Top 10 Best-Selling Cars: May 2009


It seems that low gas prices are fueling truck sales, as the two best-selling vehicles are once again full-size pickups. However, the Dodge Ram, usually a staple of this top 10 list, has fallen off, just barely beaten out by the Ford Escape. Ford had three of the top 10 best-sellers, including a sales record for the Fusion; the redesigned sedan seems to be attracting shoppers.

While sales for nearly every brand were down, GM, Ford and Hyundai stayed competitive, seeing sales losses of 29%, 25.5% and 20% from last May, respectively. That’s competitive when you compare them to Chrysler, Toyota and Honda, which saw mind-boggling falls of 47%, 39.7% and 38%. Of course, Honda and Toyota were setting sales records at this time last year, so their negatives are a bit higher than you'd expect.  

Check out the full top 10 below:

  • Ford F-Series: 33,381
  • Chevy Silverado: 31,463
  • Toyota Camry: 31,325
  • Toyota Corolla: 23,576
  • Honda Accord: 22,597
  • Honda Civic: 20,723
  • Ford Fusion: 19,786
  • Chevy Impala: 18,709
  • Nissan Altima: 18,408
  • Ford Escape: 16,391
By David Thomas | June 2, 2009 | Comments (29)


Original sheth

Nice qualification for the sale declines of Toyota and Honda. I believe HOnda had a record month last year, not Toyota. Toyota was already feeling the pinch of high gas prices last spring and their truck sales were declining. Honda and Toyota are not being aggressive with incentives and it shows. MAybe they will realize they need to step up- maybe not. I guess they are willing to lose share and sales to preserve resale values.

Tom R. shows very aggressive cash-back offers and subsidized finance and lease rates for Honda and Acura products for my zip code in NW Indiana:

I guess the Toyota and Lexus incentive info hasn't come in yet.


I don't understand why the old model ford escape sales is good.

Idaho Guy

I don't understand how the sales of the entire F series of Ford pickups can be compared to one particular model from another manufacturer.

Does the "F series" include all F150's, F250's, F350's, and F450's? If so then the comparison is unfair because many of those vehicles are commercial vehicles, not passenger vehicles.


The Escape was just revised for the '08 and once again (more subtly) for the '09 model year, so I don't know what you mean by old model (unless you're talking about the platform - which 99.9% of consumers honestly don't care/know about).

Original sheth

Its interesting that the Escape has eclipsed the CR-V and RAV4. The CRv was the best seller in this segment last year and perhaps the year before. I guess people prefer the powertrain choices you get with the Escape.

Also, the fact that Honda had record sales in May 2008 doesn't explain Toyota or Nissan results from yesterday. The bottom line is all three of the Japanese brands are hurting right now even though they have none of the negative baggage dragging down GM and Chrysler. In addition, they are still leasing while GM and Ford have all but abandoned leasing.


Sheth: The Japanese companies got whopped by a huge drop in sales of compacts. Both Corolla and Civic dropped about 53%. Sentra was down almost 60%. All of those models represent a good chunk of their sales so they showed that big drop in total unit sales.

Ford suffered a similar drop in Focus sales; about 52%.

That's probably due to the runup in gas prices last year, vastly increasing demand for more efficient cars then and the consequent drop off this year.

Max has it right on the head. Corolla/Camry sales were down by huge amounts this month compared to last year. Those are the biggest volume sellers.

Original sheth


I was around last year so I know what happened with gas prices. That doesn't mean 40% declines are something to brag about. ALL automakers had higher sales of compacts and efficient vehicles last year, not just the Japanese. Conversely, there has been some rebound in SUV and pickup sales this year due to lower gas prices. Toyota's May 2008 sales were DOWN from 2007 so I don't buy this theory that Toyota's results from 2008 were so stellar that they are making yesterday's numbers look artificially bad. Toyota outsold Ford by a large margin last year and this year Ford surpassed them in May. If Toyota and Honda can only be expected to excel when gas is $4/gallon I guess they are going to be struggling for a while.

Original sheth


Sentra is not a major seller for Nissan. The Altima is their volume car and its sales were down big time. While has prices were a factor you can bet that the Malibu and Fusion are also a factor. Malibu sales were only down 10% vs 46% for the Altima so I don't think we can say the Altima is struggling primarily because it was so hot in 2008 due to high gas prices. Fusion outsold the Altima again and the Malibu was about 4k units behind.


Why is it that Toyota feels the need to quote corolla and matrix sales together? I think that is bogus.

They and you should qualify this.


sheth: Just about every car maker is down from 07 sales.

However, the gas price spike of last year drove sales of ALL smaller cars. Both Focus and Cobalt suffered about the same percentage loss - just over 50% - that Corolla and Civic did. Toyota and Honda are far more dependent on those cars as a PERCENTAGE of total unit sales than GM and Ford are for their compacts. For Corolla alone you're looking at a DROP of 31,000 units for May.

The huge drop in compacts is what contributed to the large percentage drops of companies dependent on them for a percentage of sales. And yes, Sentra does not have as high a % of Nissan sales, but it's still their #2 seller.

Unless gas jumps again, and/or there is a sudden rebound in the economy, you can probably look forward to those same percentage drops for comapacts in June, July and August sales results.

Original sheth


I agree that compacts comprise a larger % of sales for Toyota and Honda than for GM and Ford. Still, Toyota's lineup experienced large drops across the board so that is only part of the story. Honda is much smaller than Toyota and thus the Civic is far more important to Honda than the Corolla is to Toyota. The Camry and Accord are the best selling models for their respective companies and both experienced significant declines compared to May 2008 in spite of the fact that neither is a compact and the Accord doesn't even have a hybrid model.

The corolla/matrix sales issue is just one way Toyota plays with numbers. The name "corolla" does not appear anywhere on Matrix and yet they don't qualify the Matrix as a separate model. The two cars look nothing alike and have totally different interiors. How can they be tallied as the same car? Same goes for Solara and Camry. The Solara is not called a camry and is based on the 2002 Camry, not the 2007 model. In spite of that Toyota lumps the sales together to make the Camry look better.

Good showing by the American automakers. Too bad the Malibu couldn't make it on the list.


Escape: 0% finance, and first 3 payments covered.
CR-V: Special lease.
RAV4: 2.9% finance.

hm...Powertrain options?

they did announce that the best selling car by numbers was Honda Civic. I was not sure if it was for the year or last month



Incentives don't hurt but the fact remains that the CR-V lacks a V6 and hybrid model. The escape is the most complete compact crossover on the market. It offers more features and more powertrains than RAV4 or CR-V. The CR-V is also the oldest of the trio and is dated in many ways. If Honda doesn't want to offer competitive deals than I guess they are OK allowing the Escape to take the #1 sales position.


I love the way some of your guys try to make it look like incentives are the only thing that sells American cars- if that were true- this would be a VERY different list. The escape is on this list because it finally deserves to be. Ford has been improving it every year.



I love even more the fact that Sheth is once again showing his/her sourness towards Honda.

CR-V is the oldest of the trio?
Last time I checked, the RAV4's newest redesign was for model year 2006.
CR-V on the other hand was 2007.
I did not know that 2007 was older than 2006.


If Honda and toyota didnt price them selves out of the market like they have they would be sitting pretty. They picked the absulote wrong time to mark up vehicals. For people confused where it says F-series and saying its not fair the F150 is the number one selling vehical in the country not the F-series. Ford seem's to be doing fairly good compared to GM and Chyrsler. WIth the fusion being a cheap fuel efficant car i could see them out selling Toyota and Honda come next year.

The ford F-series means all the F-series trucks not just the F150. Just like the Silverado means all the Silverado's! And the only reason the America CAR'S are on the list is because they fleet there vehicles (like rentals cars). Its not because people are buying them. At least not new, cause if someone wants a peice of junk they can just get one 6 moonths old with 30,000 miles for half the price of a new one(rental car).

I agree that Sentra is not a major seller for Nissan.

Why is it that Toyota feels the need to quote corolla and matrix sales together? I think that is bogus.They and you should qualify this

they did announce that the best selling car by numbers was Honda Civic. I was not sure if it was for the year or last month

Neden eski model Ford Escape satış anlamıyorum iyi

they did announce that the best selling car by numbers was Honda Civic. I was not sure if it was for the year or last month

I am really you and sharing. I like your website

i love this car. Nobility and power

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