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Most Popular American Cars

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceBest-Sellers
In a global economy, the concept of an “American” car is not easily, clearly or irrefutably definable. Years ago, the only vehicle considered an American car was one designed and manufactured in the United States by a U.S.-based company that employed workers primarily in the USA. Now that the auto industry has become a global enterprise with manufacturing and parts sourcing from all over the world, traditional American-brand vehicles are often built outside U.S. borders, while many European and Asian-based car companies build vehicles here in America. In light of this ambiguity, let’s focus on the best-selling models wearing the badges of American brands. As a clear indicator of what U.S. shoppers prefer, only three of the models on this list are passenger cars. The following vehicles are ranked as the most popular American cars based on U.S. sales during the first half of 2020, as reported by auto manufacturers.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience25. Ford Mustang
2020 Sales: 33,786
Vs. 2019: –12.3%
This year U.S. auto sales are down in every segment, and the Mustang is not immune. The iconic pony car had a good start to the year, but sales plunged by 27 percent in the second quarter versus 2019. A few years ago the Mustang received updated styling with a lower hood, wider grille and new front splitter designed to create what Ford calls “a meaner, leaner look.” Ford added a range of powerful turbocharged 4-cylinder engines to the mix, although the Mustang GT still gets a proper V8 engine producing 460 horsepower. For those seeking ultimate performance, Ford offers the Shelby GT350 and GT500 — the latter boasting a supercharged V8 grinding out a prodigious 760 horsepower.

© FCA US24. Jeep Gladiator
2020 Sales: 34,827
Vs. 2019: 380.2%
A pickup truck has not been part of the Jeep lineup in nearly 30 years; the brand returned to this lucrative market with the all-new Gladiator. Sales had barely started this time last year, which explains the impressive growth in sales versus 2019. Much more than simply a Wrangler with a pickup truck bed, the Gladiator shares only about half its parts with the legendary off-roader. The new truck still carries the attributes and standout features of the Wrangler — including its off-road capability, open-top driving, and even the removable doors and folding windshield. But it also is a proper truck with the utility and equipment to match or exceed all other midsize trucks on the market.

© FCA US23. Chrysler Pacifica
2020 Sales: 35,594
Vs. 2019: –26.7%
The Pacifica premiered a few years back when it replaced the aging Town & Country minivan in the Chrysler lineup. Although sales are down compared to 2019, the Pacifica still accounts for the bulk of Chrysler sales. With contemporary styling and a slew of innovations, Pacifica is arguably the best minivan Chrysler has built since it created the category more than 30 years ago. Pacifica can be equipped with seating for up to eight occupants, yet it still has plenty of cargo space at the rear. A plug-in hybrid version of the Pacifica is also available, making this the first hybrid minivan ever sold in America. For 2020 Chrysler adds a Red S Edition to the Pacifica lineup, featuring a range of high-end features such as Nappa leather seats and a Harman Kardon audio system. Look for an all-new 2021 Pacifica arriving later this year.

© General Motors22. Chevrolet Tahoe
2020 Sales: 36,419
Vs. 2019: –32.3%
There aren’t many vehicles on the road that compete with the Chevrolet Tahoe, which helps Tahoe rank as the best-selling full-size SUV in America. With seating for up to nine occupants, plenty of cargo capacity, the capability to tow more than 8,500 pounds, and 9 inches of ground clearance for off-road adventures, the Tahoe is one of the most capable SUVs on the road. Available with 2WD or 4WD, Tahoe can also be equipped with a suite of safety features as well as 4G LTE connectivity with a Wi-Fi hotspot, wireless phone charging, power-folding second- and third-row seats, an 8-inch color touchscreen and multiple USB ports. Look for an all-new 2021 Tahoe coming later this year.

© General Motors21. GMC Terrain
2020 Sales: 39,231
Vs. 2019: –22.1%
One of the few models that had steady first-quarter 2020 sales compared to the same period last year, the GMC Terrain succumbed to the poor market conditions with a 44 percent drop in sales in the second quarter of 2020 versus 2019. This 5-passenger crossover features a bold grille, sculpted headlights and C-shaped rear light graphics. In addition to the top-line Denali trim, Terrain is available in SL, SLE and SLT trims with three engine choices, all with available all-wheel drive. The standard engine is a turbocharged 1.5-liter unit that produces 170 horsepower and 203 lb-ft of torque, combined with a 9-speed automatic transmission. For 2020 Terrain adds the Elevation Edition available on SLE and SLT, highlighted by 19-inch gloss black aluminum wheels, a darkened grille insert, a black grille surround, black mirror caps, roof rails and black badging.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience20. Chevrolet Colorado
2020 Sales: 41,273
Vs. 2019: –36.7%
The Colorado (and its GMC Canyon sibling) came to market about five years ago, offering the only American-brand midsize pickup truck in the category. Available as either an extended cab or 4-door crew cab, the Colorado can be optioned with rear- or four-wheel drive. Multiple engines are available, including a 308 horsepower V6 or the 2.8-liter Duramax diesel that produces 181 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque for a maximum trailering rating of 7,700 pounds. Colorado can be equipped with plenty of luxury items, or for those looking to head off-road, the ZR2 has unique styling, a lifted suspension, front and rear electronic locking differentials and large off-road tires.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience19. Chevrolet Blazer
2020 Sales: 41,870
Vs. 2019: 183.0%
The Chevrolet Blazer is one of the few models reporting a sales increase for the first half of 2020, although the new version had just arrived in showrooms in spring 2019, so a sales increase is expected even within current market conditions. The all-new Blazer marks the return of a storied SUV name from one of the original truck-based SUVs that debuted 50 years ago. Unlike the original boxy design, the new Blazer is a bold, sporty midsize crossover with a wide stance, sleek headlights, high beltline and dual exhaust outlets. The Blazer comes well equipped with an 8-inch touchscreen display, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and dual-zone climate control. The standard engine is a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder unit producing 193 horsepower and 188 lb-ft of torque. A 3.6-liter V6 is standard for RS and Premier and optional for Blazer, producing 308 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience18. Ford Ranger
2020 Sales: 45,988
Vs. 2019: 51.8%
Following an eight-year hiatus, the Ford Ranger returned to the U.S. market last year. Although the market remains down for most vehicles, Ranger is bucking the system with strong sales so far in 2020. The midsize pickup truck is available in a number of configurations with all variants getting a 2.3-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine that produces 270 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. Inside, the Ford Ranger offers seating for up to five, a center stack with an 8-inch touchscreen for the available SYNC 3 system, and dual LCD screens in the instrument cluster to display vehicle, navigation and audio information. Ford has been selling Ranger pickups in other areas of the world, so when the company brought the midsize model back to the U.S. it reengineered the new truck specifically for the North American market.

© General Motors17. Chevrolet Malibu
2020 Sales: 47,944
Vs. 2019: –26.4%
A familiar name in the Chevrolet lineup off and on for more than 50 years, the Malibu received fresh styling and upgraded features for the 2019 model year. Malibu sales are not as high as they once were, since passenger car buyers now tend to opt for crossovers, although Malibu is still the best-selling passenger car in the General Motors portfolio. Last year Chevrolet added some spice to the Malibu lineup with the all-new Malibu RS. The RS stands out with a black sport grille, black bowtie emblems, a rear spoiler, dual exhaust and 18-inch machined wheels. Malibu is available with two fuel-efficient turbocharged engines, including the 2.0-liter turbo that puts out 250 horsepower.

© FCA US16. Jeep Compass
2020 Sales: 48,221
Vs. 2019: –36.1%
Jeep Compass sales cooled in 2019 compared to 2018, and that downward trend has continued for 2020. Sales in the second quarter were down more than 50 percent vs. a year earlier. Built on FCA’s small-wide 4X4 architecture, Compass comes in four trim levels: Sport, Latitude, Limited and Trailhawk. Compass gets powered by a 2.4-liter Tigershark engine producing 180 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque, combined with a 6-speed manual transmission or a 9-speed manual transmission for 4X4 models and a 6-speed automatic for 4X2 versions. The Altitude Appearance Package is offered for the Compass Latitude, which includes a black roof, black exterior trim, black 18-inch aluminum wheels and piano black interior trim. A new High Altitude Appearance Package is available for Compass Limited, which includes 19-inch Satin Gloss Granite wheels, HID headlights with an LED signature and LED taillights.

© Ford Motor Company15. Ford Edge
2020 Sales: 50,651
Vs. 2019: –21.1%
Ford’s midsize crossover received a new exterior look last year, boosting Edge sales to a modest 3.3 percent increase in 2019. That sales momentum did not survive the current market conditions with sales down 36 percent in the second quarter of 2020. Edge is offered in SE, SEL and Titanium trim levels, as well as the new Ford Edge ST — the first utility vehicle from Ford Performance. The Edge ST is motivated by a 2.7-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost engine producing 335 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque. It also has an 8-speed automatic transmission, standard all-wheel drive with selectable traction control, ST-tuned suspension and an available performance brake package. For 2020 Ford adds a new Titanium Elite Appearance Package for the Edge, which includes 20-inch bright machined aluminum wheels and a body-color rear bumper, front bumper and lower fascia.

© General Motors14. Chevrolet Trax
2020 Sales: 50,708
Vs. 2019: 9.4%
Chevrolet’s compact SUV continues to gain traction in this difficult market — one of the few models to show a gain in both the first and second quarters of 2020. The Trax is offered in three trim levels: LS, LT and Premier, with a special Redline Edition available on the LT trim. Trax draws power from an Ecotec 1.4-liter turbocharged engine making 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque, combined with a 6-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is optional on all trim levels. With split-folding rear seats that can also be folded flat, Trax offers up to eight different cargo/seating configurations.

© General Motors13. Chevrolet Traverse
2020 Sales: 52,409
Vs. 2019: –27.6 %
Chevrolet’s 3-row crossover, Traverse sales were strong in 2019, fueled by the redesigned 2018 model, but things have cooled in the first half of 2020. The Traverse features a bold style that follows Chevrolet’s larger full-size SUVs, with a focus on interior volume that incorporates seating for up to eight. For 2020 Traverse is offered in seven trim levels: L, LS, LT Cloth, LT Leather, RS, Premier and High Country. Chevrolet’s Infotainment 3 is added and an HD Rear Vision Camera is now standard. The standard powertrain is a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 310 horsepower, teamed with a 9-speed automatic transmission with either front- or all-wheel drive. Look for an all-new 2022 Traverse scheduled to arrive next year.

© Ford Motor Company12. Ford Transit
2020 Sales: 54,780
Vs. 2019: –25.1%
There aren’t many full-size vans available in America, and while numbers are down for the Transit in 2020, it still outsells all other vans by a wide margin. According to Ford, the Transit is available in almost 60 different configurations, including two wheelbases and three roof heights as well as 150, 250 and 350 variants. The Transit can seat up to 15 passengers, or as a cargo van the space is immense — the largest Transit features a space 172.2 inches long, 70.2 inches wide (54.8 inches between the wheels) and 81.5 inches high for a total of 487.3 cubic feet. With the high-roof option, a person 6 feet 5 inches can stand upright. The impressive versatility and considerable commercial use have helped keep this big van at the top of its segment.

© FCA US11. Jeep Cherokee
2020 Sales: 56,938
Vs. 2019: –41.4%
Cherokee sales were declining at the end of 2019, and the current situation has not helped turn that around — the Jeep crossover had a sales drop of more than 50 percent in the second quarter of 2020 versus a year earlier. Cherokee returned to the lineup as a 2014 model after a 12-year hiatus and, like all Jeep products, this popular SUV delivers legendary off-road capability with available features including a lifted off-road suspension with skidplates, tow hooks, Selec-Terrain traction control, Jeep Active Drive Lock with rear locker and Selec-Speed Crawl Control. Last year Cherokee received updated styling as well as an upgraded interior, increased cargo room and a new 2.0-liter turbocharged engine. For 2020 the Cherokee gets a range of new features as well as color options that include Sangria and Spitfire Orange.

© Ford Motor Company10. Ford Fusion
2020 Sales: 61,421
Vs. 2019: –36.3%
Last year Ford announced it will end production of all passenger car models, including the best-selling American passenger car — the Fusion. Despite its imminent demise, Fusion continues to remain popular with American shoppers, outselling all other American-brand passenger cars. Fusion received a refresh for the 2019 model year with subtle exterior design changes, interior improvements and standard Co-Pilot360, which includes automatic emergency braking, a blind-spot information system, lane-keeping assist and a rearview camera. Fusion is available with a variety of powertrains including hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants.

© Ford Motor Company9. Ford Escape
2020 Sales: 84,797
Vs. 2019: –36.3%
This small 5-seat crossover from Ford had been the best-selling American-brand SUV for many years, but a sales decline last year and a slow start for 2020 has dropped the Escape down this list of most popular American cars. Once overall U.S. vehicle sales begin to recover, the Escape should experience a sales bump since it is all new for the 2020 model year. Lower, wider and longer than its predecessor, the new model has looks that are quite a departure from the previous generation. The front end features an all-new grille surprisingly similar to those on the Focus and Fusion passenger cars, rather than Ford SUVs. The 2020 Escape is available with a choice of four engines; the standard unit is a 3-cylinder 1.5-liter EcoBoost producing 180 horsepower. Ford also brings back the Escape Hybrid — the 2020 model is available as a standard hybrid as well as a plug-in version.

© FCA US LLC8. Jeep Wrangler
2020 Sales: 96,131
Vs. 2019: –17.8%
Like most vehicles on this list of the most popular American cars, the iconic Jeep Wrangler has experienced a sales decline when compared with last year; however, with sales down 16 percent for the quarter versus a year earlier, that number could almost be considered a success given the current conditions. The current-generation Wrangler premiered for the 2018 model year — the first redesign of this iconic off-roader in 10 years. Jeep stayed true to the original, retaining the 7-slot grille and round headlights, although the grille is taller and wider, and the big headlights have a stylish LED halo around the outer bezel. For 2020 Jeep adds a fuel-efficient diesel powertrain to the Wrangler, as well as the new luxurious High Altitude edition.

© FCA US7. Jeep Grand Cherokee
2020 Sales: 96,409
Vs. 2019: –21.8%
The Grand Cherokee continues to lead the sales charge at Jeep with record sales last year — this trend would have likely continued if the pandemic had not affected sales. The 5-seat Grand Cherokee continues its tradition of offering impressive off-road capability in an attractive package. Available in several trim levels and 4WD systems, the Grand Cherokee line ranges from the off-road-focused Trailhawk to the luxurious Summit. Jeep also offers the high-performance Trackhawk, boasting a staggering 707 horsepower. For 2020 Jeep adds more standard equipment across the Grand Cherokee lineup, as well as the latest advanced safety features now available on all trims, including the base-level Laredo.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience6. Ford Explorer
2020 Sales: 101,149
Vs. 2016: –0.7%
The Ford Explorer continues as a fixture on this list of most popular American cars, as it has for almost 30 years; although sales were down for 2019, the arrival of the all-new 2020 Explorer helped bolster sales this year. In fact, Explorer numbers were up 12 percent in Q2 versus a year earlier. The 2020 Explorer is built on an all-new rear-wheel-drive flexible architecture designed to improve ride and handling as well as the vehicle’s overall capability. As part of the complete redesign, Ford added two new variants to the Explorer lineup — the Hybrid and the ST, with the latter boasts a 400-horseower EcoBoost engine. One of the new features for the 2020 model is a suite of safety features called Co-Pilot360. This includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping assist, post-impact braking, automatic high-beam headlights and a rearview camera with a built-in lens washer.

© General Motors5. GMC Sierra
2020 Sales: 106,833
Vs. 2019: 9.7%
The best-seller in the GMC lineup, the Sierra’s 2019 sales ended on a high note and have continued that upward trend in 2020, bucking the overall downward direction for U.S. auto sales. Like its Silverado sibling, the Sierra was completely new for the 2019 model year. Larger in practically every dimension, the new Sierra boasts a range of new comfort, convenience and safety features. One of Sierra’s standout differentiators is the MultiPro Tailgate, which offers six positions for easier loading, as well as use as a standing workstation. A range of engine / transmission options are available, including a new 2.7-liter turbo and a new turbodiesel powertrain. For 2020 GMC adds the AT4 CarbonPro Edition with a composite bed, unique grille surround and 18-inch wheels.

© General Motors4. Chevrolet Equinox
2020 Sales: 124,251
Vs. 2019: –28.7%
Chevrolet’s second-best-selling vehicle after the full-size Silverado pickup, the Equinox had record sales in 2019, marking the second year in a row for this feat. Equinox stands out in the crowded crossover segment with projector-beam headlights, LED running lights, wider horizontal taillights and LED taillights for upper trim levels. Inside, the Equinox features a down-and-away instrument panel with a low windshield base for improved outward visibility. The two engine choices for Equinox are a 170-horsepower 1.5-liter turbo or a 252-horse 2.0-liter turbo, both teamed with a 9-speed automatic transmission. For 2020 Chevrolet adds a Midnight Edition Equinox to the lineup. Look for an all-new 2022 Equinox to arrive sometime next year.

© FCA US3. Ram Truck
2020 Sales: 246,253
Vs. 2019: –17.8%
Ram introduced an all-new 1500 pickup last year and followed shortly thereafter with the Ram Heavy Duty. Even though sales are down this year, these two offerings did wonders for Ram truck sales before the pandemic — last year the brand achieved its fourth consecutive year of record sales. The new Ram features updated exterior styling, and the interior is one of the nicest on the market. Six trim levels are available, as well as a new lineup of powertrains that includes a powerful diesel and will eventually feature a hybrid system. A new Ram Heavy Duty that boasts a new diesel with 1,000 lb-ft of torque helps Ram hold onto this strong sales position.

© General Motors2. Chevrolet Silverado
2020 Sales: 267,166
Vs. 2019: 4.0%
Chevrolet introduced an all-new Silverado for the 2019 model year, and while sales were down slightly last year, the Silverado is certainly going strong for 2020 as one of the few vehicles showing positive growth year over year. The new Silverado is longer and wider than its predecessor, which means more passenger space as well as more cargo room. Through an extensive use of mixed materials, engineers were able to lighten Silverado by an impressive 450 pounds, with 88 pounds of that coming off the body. Silverado received updated styling inside and out, as well variety of powertrains ranging from a new turbocharged 4-cylinder powerplant to V8 options with dynamic fuel management.

1. Ford F-Series
2020 Sales: 367,387
Vs. 2019: –18.1%
Thanks to strong sales in 2019, the Ford F-Series extended its streak as the best-selling vehicle in America to 38 years — 43 years as best-selling truck. Sales in 2020 are down slightly from last year, but certainly high enough to keep Ford’s large truck offering safely in the No. 1 spot. The F-150 drives strong numbers with a wide range of configurations, fresh styling, and the latest safety and convenience features. Six engines are offered for the F-150, ranging from the standard 3.3-liter V6 that generates 290 horsepower to the high-output 450-horsepower EcoBoost unit. Ford also introduced a revised 2020 F-Series Super Duty that boasts a class-leading towing capacity of 37,000 pounds. Watch for an all-new F-150 with a range of innovative features — and a new hybrid powertrain — arriving later this year.

Data: Automaker sales releases

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Published on: July 10, 2020

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