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Certain automotive brands are firmly established leaders in their segments, even if newcomers enter the fray and try to disrupt the status quo. For instance, Chrysler may be a shell of its former self. Still, its Pacifica minivan continues to be heralded by critics and buyers alike while leading its category in overall car sales. Still, two of the best-selling car brands in the U.S. are currently experiencing some of the slowest sales growth among major manufacturers.

Brands like Acura and Mazda are thriving

Among the hottest automakers for sales through the first several months of 2023 is Acura. Though a long-established brand, Acura is moving models at a hugely improved rate over this time last year, according to stats gathered from GoodCarBadCar.

Annual Acura sales through July were up 45% over 2022, and sales for July had nearly doubled year-over-year.

Acura’s sales surge has been powered by the popularity of the MDX, up 32% in year-to-date sales through July to 36,361 units. The compact RDX crossover is also enjoying a resurgence. Annual sales were up 20% through July compared to 2022.

Mazda models have also shown to be a hot commodity among buyers recently. Annual sales were up 30% through July, with monthly year-over-year figures increasing by 31%.

The best-selling CX-5 continues to lead the Mazda stable, with over 92,000 units sold through July, and the slightly larger CX-50 is thriving after making its debut last year, with 25,700 units sold already this year. Annual sales through July are up 65% for the CX-30, 103% for the MX-5, and up 13% for the Mazda 3 hatchback and sedan. The CX-90 also appears to be selling strong in its debut year, with over 8,600 models sold.

Meanwhile, Ford and Toyota car sales remain fairly stagnant

The industry at large seems to be thriving compared to a year ago, when the pandemic’s impacts are less resounding, and thus, manufacturing, distribution, and inventory are far more stable. Though Ford and Toyota have long served as two sales champions in the U.S., their growth is paltry compared to most of the automotive industry through 2023.

Through July, Ford sales were up 10.6%, a positive figure to be sure, but not near the level of Acura, Mazda, or most other major automakers. Honda, Genesis, Kia, and Volvo all had greater than 20% growth during the first seven months of the year, and that’s only among automakers that report monthly sales figures. Even Ford’s growth is offset by the decline in sales for Lincoln, as annual sales from Ford’s luxury division were down 9% through July.

Toyota sales are practically stagnant. Through July, Toyota saw the lowest amount of sales growth, 0.83%, among all major U.S. automakers reported monthly sales stats.

Still, it should be noted Ford and Toyota have hardly vacated their sports as the two top-selling brands in the U.S.

Ford sold 1.131 million models through July, beating Toyota’s 1.045 million. For comparison, Acura sold 85,704 models in the same period, and even venerable Honda, with its 27% annual sales growth, moved about half as many models as Ford through July.

As the sales leaders, it’s certainly possible the sales growth of Toyota and Ford is less impressive than other automakers simply because they sell so many more cars, trucks, and SUVs to begin with. However, it also potentially showcases plenty of buyers looking outside the Blue Oval and Toyota for their next new ride.

Which Ford and Toyota models are selling the worst and best?

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Unsurprisingly, Ford’s sales continue to be dominated by the F-150. Over 451,000 models were sold through July, a 24% increase over last year. In keeping with work-related vehicles, the Ford Transit series moved an average of about 11,000 units per month through July, up 57% annually through the month. The Ford Expedition is another sales leader for the Blue Oval, with sales surpassing over 44,000 units through July, a 48% increase annually through the first seven months of the year.

Meanwhile, Ford’s overall sales are being dragged down by the Ford Mustang Mach-E. Under 18,000 models were sold annually through July, down from over 22,000 models in 2022. Ranger sales are down 25% annually, along with a 38% decrease in Transit Connect sales, though the latter could be impacted by the model’s discontinuation.

Toyota’s sales domination is more widespread across models than Ford’s, but it’s a mixed bag of increased and decreased figures. Sales of the brand’s best-selling model, the RAV4, are up 9.45%, near the same level as the Camry. The Tacoma has also seen minimal annual growth versus 2022 sales so far, but Highlander sales are down 6%, while Corolla sales have decreased by 12% through July.

Meanwhile, the Tundra’s 28% sales growth through July is negated by a 29% drop in 4Runner models moved. It’s a similar story among other models. Corolla Cross and Sienna sales are up — the Sienna is thriving with a near-400% annual sales growth — but fewer Prius and Venza models have been sold to date over this time last year.