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The evolution of cars in the U.S. has seen some exciting fads over the years. However, once Japanese vehicles entered the U.S. market, the best-selling cars in the auto industry were forever changed. The 1990s saw various new options, but only three cars took the top spot over ten years.

The best selling car in 1990 was the Honda Accord

One of the Best Selling Cars in America was the Honda Accord
One of the Best Selling Cars in America was the 1990 Honda Accord | Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

The 1990s were not known for style; ask anyone who lived through it. However, the Honda Accord would beg to differ. For 1990 and 1991, the stylish Honda Accord was the best-selling car on the market, according to Visual Capitalist. In 1990, the Honda Accord sold 417,179 units alone. By the time 1991 rolled around, that number dropped a bit to 399,297 units. Overall, that’s 816,476 Accords sold in the U.S. over two years.

The Accord was also the most popular vehicle in 1989, selling 362,707 units during the year. 1989 was the first year that a Honda vehicle was the best-selling brand in the country. Previously, American brands like Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, and Ford took the lead. The Oldsmobile Cutless was the best-selling car from 1978 through 1981, and again in 1983.

In 2001, the Honda Accord was the most popular car, again selling 414,718 vehicles in one year.

The best selling car from ’93 to ’96 was the Ford Taurus

According to Visual Capitalist, automakers sold over 348 million cars between 1978 and 2020. That’s an average of about 8.1 million vehicles per year.

“From 1978 to 1988, two of the “Big Three” Detroit-based auto manufacturers had the best-selling cars in the country. GM had two models of the Oldsmobile Cutlass and two different Chevrolets in the top spot, while Ford was able to compete with the compact Ford Escort.”

Visual Capitalist

After that, Japanese cars took the lead for the reliability and affordability these brands offered. In 1992, the Ford Taurus sold 409,751 units, which went down to 360,448 in 1993. By 1994, the Taurus sold 397,037 units, 366,266 in ’95, and 401,049 in ’96. That’s 1,934,551 Ford Taurus vehicles sold over five years. Besides the Toyota Camry, the Taurus had the longest best-selling car streak of five years.

The Toyota Camry took the crown from ’97 through ’99


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Once the Toyota Camry drove onto the scene, it was over for the other vehicles. In 1997, the Toyota Camry bumped the Taurus from the top spot. It sold 397,156 cars the first year, followed by 429,575 in 1998. That number increased to 448,162 in 1999 and continued through 2001 when the Honda Accord made an appearance.

From 2002 until 2020, the Toyota Camry was the best-selling car. It had a four-year streak from 1997 to 2000, and then a 19-year streak through last year. That is 9,177,081 Camry’s sold over 19 years in the top spot.

Toyota has yet to relinquish its hold on the U.S. market. Toyota has remained the world’s largest automaker for most of the previous 30 years. Additionally, the Toyota Corolla is the best-selling car of all time. Toyota makes reliable and affordable vehicles that buyers can’t seem to ignore. Plus, these vehicles tend to resell pretty well. What more could buyers want?