Things were going well for GM in the early 1980s, but Ford had a surprise hit with the 1982 Ford Escort. The compact car just did everything right, and it offered the right features for the price. Early Escort models were fairly reliable and seemingly roomy if you got the wagon, which consumers appreciated.
Ford offered quite a few trim packages on the Escort and the price wouldn’t go too high. There was also a Mercury-branded version of the Escort that was known as the Lynx. For the most part, the Escort will go down as a fairly well-appointed car that offered the right blend of features for the price.
27. 1983: Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme – 331,179 units sold
Although the Ford Escort beat it in sales numbers the year prior, consumers were still interested in more from Oldsmobile. The release of the Cutlass Ciera bolstered the sales numbers to a record high and the car was the best-selling vehicle of 1983. The classic-style Cutlass was also still amazingly popular with consumers.
Personal luxury coupes were still very much in style and GM was making a killing by offering these. Across the pond at Ford the company wasn’t having the same type of luck with the Thunderbird, but when it came to the Cutlass, consumers loved it. The Cutlass Supreme isn’t a muscle car but it could hang with the best of them from this time period.
When 1984 rolled around, GM had a hit on their hands once again. This time it was the compact Chevy Cavalier. The car offered a great deal value for the price and was decent on gas. The Cavalier also had quite a few different body styles to choose from including a convertible model and a wagon.
Due to the versatility of the product line, the Cavalier was a hit with consumers. Ford would eventually counter with a revised version of the Escort, but the Cavalier maintained a staple of the GM portfolio for decades.
For the second year in a row, GM hit it out of the park with the Cavalier. The 1985 model year introduced some changes to the car, including the introduction of the Z24 model. The Cavalier was not your average compact car and that’s what Chevy was aiming for as Japanese competition gained traction.
There were a lot of great cars in 1985, but there was no doubt you’d see a lot of Cavaliers on the road. Thanks to an innovative design and a wide range of models to choose from, the Cavalier was able to maintain its dominance a second year in the row.
24. 1986: Chevrolet Celebrity – 408,946 units sold
To the surprise of the executives at GM, the Cavalier was outpaced in 1986 by its own stablemate, the Celebrity. The 1986 Chevy Celebrity had a few unique features to it, and the larger-than-a-compact feeling was a hit with consumers. The performance of the Celebrity wasn’t anything to sneeze at either, which is partly why the sales were so good.
Like the Cavalier, there were quite a few body types to choose from with the Celebrity. The wagon model was exceptionally well-designed, with a roomy interior and enough standard features to make it stand out. GM had a few successes with compact cars and the Celebrity is one of them.
There were a lot of changes for the Escort when 1987 rolled around. The Mercury-badged Lynx was phased out for 1987 and replaced with the Tracer. The Escort GT was a fun sports version of the standard Escort and the Wagon was still a great seller with families. Overall, the Ford Escort was doing quite well in a crowded automotive market.
The Escort was also affordable, often credited as being one of the most cost-effective cars of this era. Its reliability and durability made it a great daily commuter for people who needed solid transportation without breaking the budget.
There’s no denying that Ford was on a roll with the Escort and the 1988 model year was proof of that. Not only was it the best-selling car in America once again, but it also introduced a refined interior and exterior. Mid-cycle refreshes are always important when it comes to the automotive industry and the ’88 Escort was better than ever.
The “pony” trim was also the cheapest car in America with a sticker price of $6632. Most used cars nowadays will set you back twice that amount, which just goes to show how far the price of cars have come. No matter what trim you got the original Escort in, the car had a unique personality.
1989 was the final year of the third-generation Accord and it was also the best-selling. The Accord had come a long way from being a lowly economy car. Available in three trim models, the coupe, sedan, and hatchback Accord were resonating with consumers. There were also a lot of year-end sales going on with this model, which helped sales as well.
Honda would continue this streakm and as the years went on, the Accord became more of a hit. The 1989 model year for the Accord will undoubtedly go down as one of the best for the brand. This was also one of the most reliable Accord models as you still see them on the roads today.
When the 1990 Honda Accord rolled out, it had a full redesign for the brand. The new car was more modern and refined than ever before, and the engine was also better. With all these changes, the Accord was also propelled to being the best-selling car in America for the second year in a row.
With a whopping 417,179 units sold, the car was better than ever, offering a steady blend of style and performance. Honda came a long way with the 1990 Accord and it was only the tip of the iceberg for the brand. This was the start of a long successful run for the Honda Accord as a mainstream family car contender.
1991 was another checker year for Honda as the Accord was once again the best-selling passenger car in the United States. The car did amazingly well in terms of sales volume and attracting new buyers to the brand. Honda was already a well-known entity in the automotive world and the Accord added a number of new features to it.
Automatic seatbelts were standard and there was also the addition of the wagon model, which offered more interior space. Another unique feature for the Accord from this year were rounded headlights and tailights. This generation of the Honda Accord is often credited as one of the most popular and you can still find these on the road today.
Surprisingly, Ford was back on top of things for the 1992 model year. The 1992 Taurus was a redesigned model that offered a great amount of style and substance for the price. The SHO was also gaining traction as a sport sedan alternative that surprised consumers with excellent performance.
Aside from the special-edition Taurus models, there was also a wagon model that was a great seller with families. Ford did everything right with this generation of the Taurus, and it’s sad that the model lost its way in its later years. The Ford Taurus was a constant in the Ford lineup and the automotive industry for quite some time.
Things kept going great for Ford in 1993 as the Taurus maintained its dominance at the top of the market. A passenger airbag was added for 1993 which added to the already impressive list of safety features that the car came with. The audio system in the Taurus was also one of the best of any family sedan around this time.
Ford wanted to keep buyers comfortable and attracted to the Taurus nameplate, so its new luxury features were a nice touch. The SHO also continued to be a hot seller, offering the right blend of performance and handling for the price. This was definately a defining decade for the Taurus and the popularity of the brand.
By 1994, success continued for the Taurus lineup but the car was quickly becoming aged. A new Honda Accord was on the market yet the Taurus still managed to maintain its spot as the top-selling passenger car. The SHO was still available and the new AX4N transaxle was standard in all models with the 3.0L.
Ford would continue to do subtle tweaks to this generation of the Taurus until the model was redesigned in 1996. As far as comfort and value go, this is by far one of the most popular generations of the Taurus with consumers. 1994 was another important year for the Taurus and the brand as a whole.
For 1995 the Ford Taurus was once again the best-selling passenger car in America. One reason for this sales success was the fact that 1995 was the last year of this body style. The Taurus would get a full redesign for the next year. Perhaps one of the most unique things about the 1995 Taurus was that it still offered a manual transmission as an option.
Aside from that, the 1995 model year remained largely unchanged but the SHO model was prominently featured as Tim Allen’s ride in the Disney movie “The Santa Clause.” Just goes to show that even a Hollywood man can appreciate the stellar SHO model. This would be the final year of the popular SHO until it was released in the next generation of Taurus cars.
In what was perhaps one of the most radical redesigns in history, the 1996 Ford Taurus made a big splash. The oval styling was universally panned by critics in the automotive press, but consumers seemed to take to the new Taurus well. As with most of the new cars that came out in 1996 automakers were continuing to move away from the boxy designs of the 1980s.
The 1996 Taurus model was available in a wagon and a sedan, and the wagon was vastly improved over the previous model. Sadly, the manual transmission was gone and the Taurus wouldn’t get another manual option in the future. Few car releases have been as critically panned and documented as the 1996 Ford Taurus was.
The 1997 Toyota Camry was more comfortable than ever, offering a newly designed exterior and plenty of options. Gone was the 2-door from the lineup, which would eventually become the Camry Solara. The wagon model was also gone and the Camry was firmly planted as America’s top new choice for a family sedan.
From a design standpoint, the reliability of this generation of the Camry cannot be denied. The car did far better than you’d expect considering the stiff competition that was available this year. The 1997 Camry was also one of the most reliable models on the road as you still see them today.
When 1998 rolled around, the Toyota Camry was largely unchanged, but it offered a decent amount of value for the price. There were still two transmission options available and the spacious interior was a hit with consumers. Few cars have been able to rival the success of this Camry generation and there is good reason for that.
If you were lucky enough to get the LE, then you had an abundance of luxury options to choose from. Leather seating, wood trim, and even a sedate exterior made this generation of the Camry one of the most popular family sedans of all time.
The Toyota Camry retained its crown as the top-selling passenger car for 1999. The 3.0L V6 was still the most highly sought-after engine in the lineup, although the four-cylinder offered a reasonable amount of power and reliability for the price. 1999 brought a lot of new changes in paint color and trim choices, but the car was largely unchanged from the previous edition.
Toyota would inject new advertising campaigns into the brand and try to pivot consumer interest toward the value-oriented models. Whichever model you went for, the Camry was among the best deals in the passenger car market. A big change for this year was the arrival of the Solara convertible model.
For the year 2000, the Toyota Camry was once again the best-selling passenger car in the country. Toyota did an exterior refresh on the car that included new headlights and taillights as well as a more rounded front fascia. From a performance standpoint, the Camry wasn’t going to win any races but the sturdy build quality was an important aspect.
Toyota has done a great job of not making the redesigns of the Camry too radical, and the 2000 model is an example of that. The new exterior design of the car looked a lot better and still kept to the traditional styling that has made the Camry such a popular choice over the past few years.
The Honda Accord had spent quite a few years as the runner-up to the Camry, but in 2001 the tides had turned. 2001 was a great year for Honda and there were a lot of memorable models including the Integra Type R. The 2001 Honda Accord was a comfortable and modern family car that offered all of the safety and security that you’d expect out of Honda.
On top of that, the car is notoriously reliable which has helped to keep the resale value up. Few cars have managed to keep the notoriety that the 2001 Honda Accord has. Consumers just seemed to have gravitated toward this generation of the Accord in a way that they didn’t with other generations.
When 2002 rolled around, the Camry was once again redesigned, and this time it incorporated a ton of unique features. The new styling of the 2002 Camry ushered in a new generation of style for the Toyota sedan, the dimensions were also a lot larger. The Camry had lost that “cheap” aesthetic to it.
Now the Camry was a thoroughly modern family sedan that offered a comprehensive bargain. The fierce rivalry between the Camry and the Accord would go on well into the future, and the Camry ended up being the best-selling car for the next three years in a row. Rather then bore you with repeated entries on the list, we’re just going to include the sales numbers for the next three model years.
For the 2006 model year, the redesign of the Camry proved to be a very powerful one for Toyota. The car was completely redesigned from the ground up with a hybrid model in the mix as well. Aside from that, the Camry is also a much more powerful sedan than it was before with a lot of new driving characteristics.
The Hybrid model was a step in the right direction as gas prices were beginning to soar. Toyota kept the design minuscule but continued to build on the popularity of the newly redesigned Camry model. The hybrid model proved to be a very popular addition to the Camry lineup and one that many drivers don’t regret.
The Camry was once again the best-selling passenger car in the country in 2007, but this time it had some stiff competition on its heels. The Honda Accord was also selling like hotcakes and the Corolla/Matrix twins were also selling well. The 2007 model continued to build on the popularity of the brand with the LE model being the height of the product line.
While you’d never think that the Toyota Camry is a youthful product, Toyota did do a great job of advertising the car as such. For what it offered the Camry continued to be the perennial sales leader of the automotive industry, and to this day still remains a powerful brand name drivers equate with quality and refinement.
Believe it or not, the F-Series truck actually bested the Toyota Camry for the 2008 model year in the middle of a recession. The Ford F-Series was the best-selling passenger vehicle in the United States for the 2008 model year, with a staggering 515,513 units sold.
When you put that number into perspective it’s easy to see why you still see the 2008 F-150 on the roadways. There were a lot of these darn trucks that were sold, and the value is up there among the best. Ford had a product that people gravitate toward, and it makes a difference because the product continues to sell very well to this day.
Once again for the 2009 model year, the Ford F-Series has been crowned the champion of the sales world. Topping in at 413-625 units, an all-time best for the brand. The meteoric rise of the F-150 was part of a larger transition to full-sized trucks and SUVs instead of passenger cars. 2009 was a special model for a number of reasons, the first of which was the fact that it was the precursor to the SVT Raptor.
As we know the Ford Raptor has quickly become one of the best-selling pickup trucks of all time. But the 2009 model was also instrumental in adding a lot of unique luxury features to the F-150 that were firsts for the time period. Pickup trucks were becoming more of a luxury-based vehicle and the interest in these trucks continued to grow.
2010 was a big year for the F-150 as Ford continued to inject new life into the tried-and-true brand. The SVT Raptor hit the roads and the truck became a smash hit with the 6.2L V8 engine and a number of unique features. Ford was reinvigorating the brand and one of the ways that the company did that is with the Raptor brand.
Another interesting feature for this year was the unique Trailer Brake assist, all of which could be done at the touch of a button. Seeing the momentum of the F-150 was instrumental to the rest of the industry following the shift back toward pickup trucks and SUVs.
For the 2011 model year, the Camry was once again at the top of the automotive industry’s food chain. The redesign was instrumental in picking the steam back up for the Toyota-based family sedan. Toyota overhauled the styling to match a new set of buyers who were looking for a youthful sedan with great features and looks.
The 2011 model year introduced a sportier appearance with ground effects and a revised grille. From the outside looking in, this was one of the best looking Camry models in the brand’s history. No family sedan is going to be a champion on the race track, but it was nice to have a sportier appearance anyhow.
2012 brought a number of changes to the vehicle industry, and the Ford F-Series became the best-selling vehicle in the United States once again. For 2012 the Platinum package was unveiled, to replace the Lincoln Mark LT’s slot in the pickup truck market. The Platinum ended up being one of the most popular trim packages for the F-150 of all time.
Customers were looking for a more luxurious pickup truck and Ford was continuing to innovate with the F-150. The Platinum is still one of the most popular trim packages on the F-150 to this day, the combination of versatility and luxury was enough to resonate with car buyers.