Top 10 Best-Selling Cars: December 2011

Ford F-150

The holidays sent car shoppers back to family cars, SUVs and pickup trucks as most major automakers outpaced analysts' expectations to finish the year. The top 10 sellers for the month include five pickups and SUVs and five cars, which is a similar mix to December 2010.

Top 10 Best-Selling Cars of 2011

The Ford F-Series, Chevrolet Silverado and Chrysler's Ram pickups closed 2011 strong; Ford said the F-Series had its best December since sales-heady 2006. SUVs, meanwhile, remained popular: The discount-laden Ford Escape sold more than in any December since the small SUV arrived more than a decade ago, and Jeep cranked out more than 17,000 Grand Cherokee sales, marking the SUV's best December since 2005. The Grand Cherokee nearly made the top 10 list, which would have been its first placement since we began tallying the monthly top 10 in January 2009. The Ford Explorer and Jeep Wrangler — both up more than 35% — saw outsized gains, and even aging models like the Nissan Rogue (up 18.6%) did well. The misfires? The Chevrolet Equinox, down versus a strong December 2010, as well as the aging Toyota RAV4. The Honda CR-V's fourth generation hit dealers in mid-December, but sales remain down, too.

Despite gas costing 22 cents a gallon more than a year ago, fuel-efficient small cars are all over the map. The Ford Focus and Chevy Cruze saw double-digit increases, but the Hyundai Elantra and Toyota Corolla stagnated and the Honda Civic fell 27%. Honda's doldrums extended to the Accord, down 40%. It didn't make the top 10 for the second month running.

The Accord and Ford Fusion were exceptions among family cars, which did well on the whole. The redesigned Toyota Camry remains America's best-selling car, staving off Nissan's suddenly popular Altima. Its popularity is peculiar because the current car is as old as January eggnog, and Nissan isn't piling on dramatically more discounts than it did a year ago. Other successes ranged from the red-hot Kia Optima (up 245%) to the aging Chevy Malibu (up 13.1%).

Of the seven major automakers, five posted huge gains, and even Toyota — widely expected to post a December sales loss — remained flat. With sales up 4.5%, GM remained America's best-selling automaker in December. Touting the first three-point market share gain over three consecutive years since 1970, Ford sales rose 10% for December, securing a strong second place. Toyota kept pace for third, while an 83% increase in the Chrysler brand and 41% gain in Jeep drove Chrysler to fourth. Flagging Honda, down 18.8%, stayed barely ahead of Nissan and Hyundai/Kia, which round out the top seven.

By Kelsey Mays | January 4, 2012 | Comments (8)
Tags: Best Sellers



About the altima, Yes. It is peculiar. What could be the most possible reason?


fusion and escape have done really well this year.


Nice to see the Camry showing sales gains. If they reach better inventory levels sales should improve more.


The 308k camry sales are not of the redesigned model- that model didnt start showing up at dealers until Sept or October. So the overwhelming majority of those camry sales were the 2011 model which had nice discounts and incentives in 2011. 308k sales is great, but camry sales are way down from levels of mid decade- it has steadily lost share to competitors like Sonata and Fusion. Now the Passat is even starting to rack up decent monthly sales- over 8k last month. VW said they want to sell 100k a year and it looks like that will happen in 2012.

Altima has benefitted from the perception that Nissan had more inventory. That is why Altima has done far better than Accord/Camry this year. I wouldnt expect it to continue into 2012.


I assume sales of the Altima has more to with the way it drives (sportier/more repsonsive)and looks better than the current/old Camry and Honda Accord.


They were not showing gains until now. Now they have a redesigned car so if they reach optimal inventory levels sales should continue to rise. Sales were struggling due to natural disasters causing low inventory.


Too bad Americans are still buy those defective Camrys. I had to laugh when they call it redesigned. Its the cheapest looking Toyota so far. Going Down ?


Sorry to inform you Cheese but the Camry is the most "American" car made. It is not cheap. It has a much improved interior and exterior. It has great quality. Sales are up by the way.

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