In a year that saw gas prices soar to unprecedented highs, an economic collapse force Americans to rethink every purchase, and automotive industry leaders grilled by Congress over their failure to build small, fuel-efficient cars, the best-selling vehicles in the United States were...full-size pickup trucks.
The Ford F-150 was the best seller for the 27th consecutive year, and the only model to sell more than half a million units. CNN Money explains, "Trucks, and the F-series in particular, have an advantage over cars in this race. First, trucks are bought for personal use and in large numbers for fleet and business use. Second, there are simply fewer large truck models for buyers to choose from. And third, each model is available in a mind-boggling array of sizes, body styles and engine types." In fact, GM would have won the honor if it hadn't sold its large truck under two different names. If you were to combine sales figures for the second-place Chevy Silverado and its GMC Sierra sibling, which are nearly identical, you'd find that GM's large truck outsold Ford's by almost 160,000 units.
The small, fuel-thrifty cars that members of Congress took the automakers to task for overlooking? Nearly absent from the roster of best-sellers. Kicking Tires reports, "Besides the long-running economy car picks of the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, there weren't any tiny, fuel-sipping cars on the list."
The best-selling car in America, and third fastest seller overall, was our Best Midsize Car for the Money award winner - the Toyota Camry. When releasing sales figures, Toyota considers the Camry, the Camry hybrid and the discontinued Camry Solara Coupe to be one vehicle.
Motor Trend notes, however, that "each of 2008's best-selling vehicles showed a decline in sales performance relative to 2007, with the lone exception being the Honda Civic (+2.1%). Trucks took a big hit year-on-year, and the F-Series and Silverado, despite topping in overall sales, showed some of the largest declines in performance of the top ten, with drops of 25.4% and 24.8%, respectively. The largest drop in the top ten was suffered by the third truck on the list, the Dodge Ram (-31%)."
The automakers didn't make much money on each truck sale in 2008, either, with heavy incentives used to move many of the vehicles - and cut profit.
Autoblog comments, "It was a rough year to be selling anything, and car sales took multiple shots from seemingly every direction - from high gas prices over the summer months to the credit crunch that brought the year to a close."
The top ten best-selling vehicles of 2008 were:
3. Toyota Camry
4. Honda Accord
6. Honda Civic
9. Dodge Ram
10. Honda CR-V