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The 10 Best-Selling Cars of 2018

By John Rosevear – Updated Dec 21, 2018 at 2:50PM

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Sedan sales have fallen considerably, but the totals are still big.

It's no secret that more and more buyers are choosing SUVs over sedans. Sales of mainstream sedans have fallen so much that some automakers have announced plans to discontinue models that were big sellers just a few years ago.

Still, while sales are down considerably, Americans are still buying a lot of compact and midsize sedans. Here are the 10 best-sellers in the U.S. in 2018 through November -- along with a surprise honorable mention. 

10th place: Chevrolet Malibu

A silver Chevrolet Malibu, a midsize sedan.

Chevrolet Malibu. Image source: General Motors.

General Motors' (GM -0.09%) midsize Chevy Malibu is a well-regarded design that was brand-new for 2016 -- just when the decline in sales of midsize sedans shifted into high gear. Automotive News estimates that U.S. Malibu sales are down about 22% through November, but it's still among America's best-selling cars.

9th place: Chevrolet Cruze

A gray Chevrolet Cruze, a compact sedan.

Chevrolet Cruze. Image source: General Motors.

Like its one-size-up sibling the Malibu, GM's Chevrolet Cruze is a solid entry in a shrinking segment. Introduced in 2016, it offered some important upgrades over its (very good) predecessor, including a nicer interior and a lighter-weight structure that improved handling and fuel economy. 

But with sales down an estimated 21% in 2018 through November, GM isn't making enough money on the Cruze to keep it around. The Ohio factory that manufactures the Cruze is one of five that GM expects to close after next year.

8th place: Ford Fusion

A white Ford Fusion Hybrid, a midsize sedan.

Ford Fusion Hybrid. Image source: Ford Motor Company.

It's hard to overstate the impact that Ford Motor Company's (F 0.79%) midsize Fusion sedan made when it was first unveiled way back in 2012. The combination of great styling, thoughtful features, and vault-like build quality was a winner, and sales surged.

Almost seven years later, the Fusion is still among America's best-sellers, but sales are no longer what they were. Through November, U.S. sales of the Fusion are down 18%.

7th place: Hyundai Elantra

A white Hyundai Elantra, a compact sedan.

Hyundai Elantra. Image source: Hyundai.

When it first arrived in the U.S., Hyundai (HYMTF 1.14%) was known mostly for cheap transportation. It's a different world today. While the current compact Elantra still offers a lot of features for the money, it has become a comfortable, solid sedan that needs no excuses. In fact, it's good enough that it's the one entry on our list that bucks the declining-sales trend: U.S. sales of the Elantra are up 4.8% this year through November.

6th place: Nissan Altima

A white Nissan Altima, a midsize sedan.

Nissan Altima. Image source: Nissan.

The current midsize Nissan (NSANY -0.27%) Altima is a mixed bag. Its roomy back seat gets high marks, but it's not as sharp or as well-rounded as its key rivals. Aggressive pricing has helped Nissan sell quite a few Altimas over the last few years, but it can't buck the larger trend. U.S. sales of the Altima are down almost 19% this year through November. A revamped 2019 model is just now arriving at dealers.

5th place: Nissan Sentra

A red Nissan Sentra, a compact sedan.

Nissan Sentra. Image source: Nissan.

Like its larger sibling the Altima, Nissan's compact Sentra offers a lot at a value price, at least on paper. That aggressive pricing has helped it stay among America's best-selling cars even as it has been eclipsed by plusher-feeling rivals. U.S. sales of the Sentra are down just 3% this year.

4th place: Honda Accord

A red Honda Accord Sport, a midsize sedan.

Honda Accord. Image source: Honda Motor Co., Ltd.

For many years, the midsize Accord was Honda's (HMC 0.23%) biggest seller in the United States and one of the biggest-selling vehicles of any kind here -- until the SUV boom changed both of those things. Honda responded with an all-new 2018 Accord that took the longtime family favorite a bit further upmarket, with plush trims, a surprisingly roomy interior, and a few endearing Honda quirks. (Among them: You can still get an Accord with a six-speed manual transmission.) 

Sales of the new Accord have been pretty good, but it has fallen well short of its old rival (the Camry) in 2018. Through November, U.S. sales of the Accord are down 12.7%.

3rd place: Toyota Corolla

A white Toyota Corolla, a compact sedan.

Toyota Corolla. Image source: Toyota.

Toyota's (TM 0.57%) compact Corolla has been a best-seller around the world for ages thanks to a simple formula: It's a dependable, comfortable, safe car at a value price. The latest Corolla sticks to that formula and adds a spacious interior, a smooth ride, and terrific fuel economy. Sales have remained strong despite the declining market for sedans. U.S. sales of the Corolla are down 10% in 2018 through November.

2nd place: Honda Civic

A silver Honda Civic, a compact sedan, on a city street.

Honda Civic. Image source: Honda Motor Co., Ltd.

If the Corolla is an apple, the Honda Civic is the orange. It's the other longtime favorite compact sedan, trading a bit of the Corolla's practicality and comfort for sharper handling and a bit more sportiness. But like the Corolla, the Civic is hard to fault as an everyday transportation choice. Which is "better" is mostly a matter of taste.

Through November, the Civic has outsold its old rival, but U.S. sales are down 13.4% from last year.

1st place: Toyota Camry

A blue Toyota Camry, a midsize sedan.

Toyota Camry. Image source: Toyota.

Advantage: Camry. Toyota has put a great deal of effort into keeping its dependable, comfortable midsize sedan atop the U.S. sales charts, and it has paid off again this year. The latest Camry, new last fall, added sharper styling and a sportier interior while keeping the overall package affordable. U.S. sales are down 8.6% through November. While declines are never good, the Camry has more than held its own in a tough market.

Honorable mention: Tesla Model 3

A red Tesla Model 3, an upscale compact sports sedan.

Tesla Model 3. Image source: Tesla, Inc.

Upstart Tesla (TSLA -0.94%) didn't quite make the list, but it came pretty close. If InsideEVs' estimate of 114,532 Model 3 sedans sold through November is accurate, then the baby Tesla sold just enough to beat Ford's Focus for 11th place in the U.S. car-sales standings. That merits an honorable mention. 

John Rosevear owns shares of Ford and General Motors. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Tesla. The Motley Fool recommends Ford. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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