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The Bestselling Cars To Start 2021

Andrew Lisa
·10 min read
©Shutterstock.com / Shutterstock.com
©Shutterstock.com / Shutterstock.com

The auto industry stayed afloat in 2020, survived without bailouts and avoided a repeat of the disaster of 2008. Not dying and thriving, however, are two very different things.

Read More: 30 Biggest Do’s and Don’ts When Buying a Car

With only a handful of exceptions, the 25 bestselling cars, trucks and SUVs in America, as ranked by Car and Driver, saw their sales numbers decline last year. Here’s a look at cars that are always top contenders for America’s annual auto popularity contest, how they fared in 2020 and what trends are steering them into the future.

Last updated: Feb. 23, 2021

2020 Toyota 4Runner
2020 Toyota 4Runner

2021 Toyota 4Runner

  • Models sold during 2020: 129,052

  • Change in sales from 2019: -2%

  • Starting MSRP: $36,590

A big and capable full-size SUV, the 4Runner is known for its durability, off-road prowess and sheer size.

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*Pictured 2020 Toyota 4Runner

Valley of Fire, Nevada - August 29, 2018: a 15-seat Ford Transit XLT Passenger Wagon with 3.5L EcoBoost V6 engine, 2018 model
Valley of Fire, Nevada - August 29, 2018: a 15-seat Ford Transit XLT Passenger Wagon with 3.5L EcoBoost V6 engine, 2018 model

2020 Ford Transit

  • Models sold during 2020: 131,556

  • Change in sales from 2019: -15%

  • Starting MSRP: $34,510

The Transit is the go-to American-made commercial van for businesses and contractors of all kinds. The full-size workhorse is known for its versatility as a cargo van, passenger van and crew van.

Read More: The Most Expensive Cars Coming Out This Year From Around the World

2021 Jeep Cherokee

  • Models sold during 2020: 135,855

  • Change in sales from 2019: -29%

  • Starting MSRP: $26,555

The Cherokee nameplate has a history dating back to 1974 and has evolved into its current iteration as a compact crossover. It remains one of the most influential and often-awarded SUVs of all time, despite a jarring drop in sales last year of nearly 30%.

Find Out: Why 2021 Is a Perfect Year To Buy a New Car

*Pictured 2020 Jeep Cherokee

2020 Nissan Altima
2020 Nissan Altima

2021 Nissan Altima

  • Models sold during 2020: 137,988

  • Change in sales from 2019: -34%

  • Starting MSRP: $24,300

A reliable and attractive commuter sedan, the Altima is Nissan’s bridge between the entry-level Versa and the higher-end Maxima. Although the coronavirus certainly contributed to the Altima’s stark 34% drop in sales, the truth is that the era of the family sedan is in its twilight.

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*Pictured 2020 Nissan Altima

2021 Mazda CX-5

  • Models sold during 2020: 146,420

  • Change in sales from 2019: -5.30%

  • Starting MSRP: $25,270

Both critics and owners fawn over the sleek and stylish compact crossover that is the Mazda CX-5. It’s a beautiful vehicle that drives well and offers impressive luxury for the price.

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*Pictured 2020 Mazda CX-5

2020 Subaru Outback
2020 Subaru Outback

2021 Subaru Outback

  • Models sold during 2020: 153,294

  • Change in sales from 2019: -15%

  • Starting MSRP: $26,795

The flagship vehicle of the Subaru lineup, the Outback is responsible more than any other vehicle for Subaru’s reputation for safety and dependability both on the road and off.

Read More: Maintenance Costs To Consider If Your Car Has Been Sitting in the Garage

*Pictured 2020 Subaru Outback

2020 Subaru Forester
2020 Subaru Forester

2021 Subaru Forester

  • Models sold during 2020: 176,996

  • Change in sales from 2019: -2%

  • Starting MSRP: $24,795

Despite the fact that it competes in the compact SUV segment, the Subaru Outback is still a wagon. The true compact crossover of the family is the Forester, which delivers the same Subaru reliability and peace of mind.

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*Pictured 2020 Subaru Forester

Completely redesigned new 2020 Escape best offers four new propulsion choices – including two all-new hybrids; standard hybrid targets best-in-class EPA-estimated range of more than 550 miles; plug-in hybrid targets a best-in-class EPA-estimated pure-electric range of 30+ miles.
Completely redesigned new 2020 Escape best offers four new propulsion choices – including two all-new hybrids; standard hybrid targets best-in-class EPA-estimated range of more than 550 miles; plug-in hybrid targets a best-in-class EPA-estimated pure-electric range of 30+ miles.

2020 Ford Escape

  • Models sold during 2020: 178,496

  • Change in sales from 2019: -26%

  • Starting MSRP: $24,885

It’s getting harder and harder for the Escape to compete in the crowded and competitive compact SUV segment, particularly when vehicles like the Mazda CX-5 offer more luxurious features for the same price. It’s one of only two 2020 model-year vehicles on this list.

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*Picture 2020 Ford Escape

2019 Honda Accord Sport 2.0T
2019 Honda Accord Sport 2.0T

2021 Honda Accord

  • Models sold during 2020: 199,458

  • Change in sales from 2019: -26%

  • Starting MSRP: $24,970

Like the Ford Escape, the Honda Accord also suffered a bruising sales decline of more than one-quarter last year. Also like the Escape, however, the Accord remains a fan favorite with a loyal following.

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*Pictured 2020 Honda Accord Touring 2.0T

2020 Jeep Wrangler High Altitude in Black.
2020 Jeep Wrangler High Altitude in Black.

2021 Jeep Wrangler

  • Models sold during 2020: 201,311

  • Change in sales from 2019: -12%

  • Starting MSRP: $28,315

The Jeep Wrangler continues its legacy as an off-road workhorse, but one that has been thoroughly refined for highway comfort — and you can still take off the roof. And the doors.

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*Pictured 2020 Jeep Wrangler

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee

  • Models sold during 2020: 209,786

  • Change in sales from 2019: -14%

  • Starting MSRP: $34,220

Although it’s still the bestselling Jeep, even the mighty Grand Cherokee’s sales numbers dropped by 14% in 2020. To be fair, however, Jeep sales were down across the board.

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*Pictured 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee

2020 Toyota Highlander
2020 Toyota Highlander

2021 Toyota Highlander

  • Models sold during 2020: 212,276

  • Change in sales from 2019: -11%

  • Starting MSRP: $34,810

Interestingly shaped with a dramatic front grille, the Toyota Highlander stands out among full-size SUVs. It’s one of the longest-running three-row SUVs in history and is still one of Toyota’s top sellers.

Read More: Cost To Own a Car for a Year in Every State

*Pictured 2020 Toyota Highlander

Ford introduces its all-new 2020 Explorer – a complete redesign of America’s all-time best-selling SUV – that now features the broadest model lineup ever, more power and space, and smart new technologies to help tackle life’s adventures.
Ford introduces its all-new 2020 Explorer – a complete redesign of America’s all-time best-selling SUV – that now features the broadest model lineup ever, more power and space, and smart new technologies to help tackle life’s adventures.

2021 Ford Explorer

  • Models sold during 2020: 226,217

  • Change in sales from 2019: 21%

  • Starting MSRP: $32,225

The 2021 Explorer hangs onto its unibody construction despite moving back to a rear-wheel-drive layout, making it one of the more unique three-row midsize SUVs on the market. It also happens to be America’s top-selling three-row SUV once again after a brief hiatus from the top spot.

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*Pictured 2020 Ford Explorer Limited

2020 Nissan Rogue
2020 Nissan Rogue

2021 Nissan Rogue

  • Models sold during 2020: 227,935

  • Change in sales from 2019: -35%

  • Starting MSRP: $25,650

The Nissan Rogue got a sorely needed makeover in 2021, but even that wasn’t enough to bring it up to par with the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV. The fact is that the competition was making a better argument than the Rogue even before the pandemic.

Learn More: Car Brands That Are Making Buying a Car Worth Your While During the Pandemic

*Picture 2020 Nissan Rogue

2021 Toyota Corolla
2021 Toyota Corolla

2021 Toyota Corolla

  • Models sold during 2020: 237,178

  • Change in sales from 2019: -22%

  • Starting MSRP: $20,025

One of the bestselling cars of all time, the Corolla has long been one of the standard choices for budget-minded drivers who shop based on considerations like value, safety and low cost of ownership. Even so, sales took a beating in 2020.

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2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road
2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road

2021 Toyota Tacoma

  • Models sold during 2020: 238,806

  • Change in sales from 2019: -4%

  • Starting MSRP: $26,150

The Tacoma didn’t lose much ground at all in 2020, all things considered. It’s known as a middle-of-the-road compact pickup, but it’s far more popular than the larger Toyota Tundra.

Read More: 15 Great Cars To Own for More Than 15 Years

*Pictured 2020 Toyota Tacoma

2020 GMC Sierra AT4.
2020 GMC Sierra AT4.

2021 GMC Sierra

  • Models sold during 2020: 253,016

  • Change in sales from 2019: 9%

  • Starting MSRP: $31,695

Unlike so many on this list, the GMC Sierra actually grew its sales numbers last year. Its slightly cheaper GM cousin, the Chevy Silverado, also enjoyed a bump in sales.

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*Pictured 2020 GMC Sierra

2020 Honda Civic Sedan Touring.
2020 Honda Civic Sedan Touring.

2021 Honda Civic

  • Models sold during 2020: 261,225

  • Change in sales from 2019: -20%

  • Starting MSRP: $21,250

Loyalists have long loved the bestselling Honda Civic for the same reasons their counterparts at Toyota have always gone back to its chief competitor, the Corolla. It’s not surprising, then, that the two suffered nearly identical losses in sales in 2020.

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*Pictured 2020 Honda Civic

2020 Chevrolet Equinox.
2020 Chevrolet Equinox.

2021 Chevrolet Equinox

  • Models sold during 2020: 270,994

  • Change in sales from 2019: -22%

  • Starting MSRP: $23,800

Chevy watched the Equinox’s sales numbers plummet last year, and it’s not hard to understand why. It’s a good compact SUV that gets good reviews, but it shares a segment with vehicles like the Mazda CX-5, which is truly great in the same price range.

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*Pictured 2020 Chevrolet Equinox

2020 Toyota Camry
2020 Toyota Camry

2021 Toyota Camry

  • Models sold during 2020: 294,348

  • Change in sales from 2019: -13%

  • Starting MSRP: $24,970

The Camry remains America’s bestselling car despite a 13% year-over-year drop in sales. That’s likely because its No.1 rival, the Honda Accord, did doubly bad with a hideous 26% decline.

Read More: 8 Car Leasing Mistakes to Avoid

*Pictured 2020 Toyota Camry

automobile,car,transporter,honda,transport,automotive,drive,tran
automobile,car,transporter,honda,transport,automotive,drive,tran

2021 Honda CR-V

  • Models sold during 2020: 333,502

  • Change in sales from 2019: -13%

  • Starting MSRP: $25,350

The Honda CR-V shines in the crowded compact SUV segment. Even if it doesn’t shine quite as brightly as the Mazda CX-5, it has earned a place in the category’s top tier.

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2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2021 Toyota RAV4

  • Models sold during 2020: 430,387

  • Change in sales from 2019: -4%

  • Starting MSRP: $26,150

The Toyota RAV4 hung in there with only minimal losses, likely because it’s so good at offering something for everyone. Few SUVs have a broader spectrum from the entry-level package to the top trim level.

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*Pictured 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

DETROIT - JANUARY 15: A Dodge Ram 1500 pickup truck on display January 15th, 2015 at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan.
DETROIT - JANUARY 15: A Dodge Ram 1500 pickup truck on display January 15th, 2015 at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan.

2021 Ram Pickup

  • Models sold during 2020: 563,676

  • Change in sales from 2019: -11%

  • Starting MSRP: $32,245

As always, pandemic or not, pickups rule the roost on America’s roads and highways. The first of the top three is the Ram Pickup, which is back in its regular third-place spot after briefly reigning as No. 2.

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*Pictured 2018 Dodge Ram

2020 Chevrolet Silverado Diesel.
2020 Chevrolet Silverado Diesel.

2021 Chevrolet Silverado

  • Models sold during 2020: 586,675

  • Change in sales from 2019: Light-duty model decreased by 0.5%; heavy-duty trucks increased by 14%

  • Starting MSRP: $28,900

The Silverado reclaimed its usual place ahead of Ram but behind you-know-who. Sales were up across the board, but it was the big heavy-duty pickups that brought Chevy across the finish line in 2020.

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*Pictured 2020 Chevrolet Silverado Diesel

Available Pro Trailer Backup Assist makes backing up a trailer as easy as turning a knob; the feature continues in the all-new F-150 and is exclusive in the segment of full-size pickups under 8,500 pounds GVWR.
Available Pro Trailer Backup Assist makes backing up a trailer as easy as turning a knob; the feature continues in the all-new F-150 and is exclusive in the segment of full-size pickups under 8,500 pounds GVWR.

2021 Ford F-Series

  • Models sold during 2020: 787,422

  • Change in sales from 2019: -12%

  • Starting MSRP: $28,940

The Ford F-Series has been America’s bestselling family of vehicles since today’s middle-aged Americans were babies. A 12% drop in sales is not enough to change that — nor will it be any time soon.

More From GOBankingRates

Methodology: GOBankingRates used Car and Driver’s “25 Best-Selling Cars, Trucks, and SUVs of 2020” list to find the bestselling vehicles of that year as well as each vehicle’s (1) units sold in 2020 and (2) percent change from 2019 sales. Then, GOBankingRates consulted the manufacturers’ websites to find each vehicle’s (3) starting MSRP. All data were collected and are up to date as of Jan. 21, 2021.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: The Bestselling Cars To Start 2021