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Toyota RAV4 has been a sales juggernaut, but the Tesla Model Y is hot on its heels this year. leading all SUVs in the U.S. and all vehicles period worldwide. But new sales estimates for the start of 2023 suggest the Tesla Model Y might be coming for the RAV4’s throne.  So far, the EV is the best-selling SUV of 2023.

Tesla Model Y sold more units than Toyota RAV4 through the beginning of 2023

A red Tesla Model Y with mountains in the background.
Tesla Model Y | Tesla

According to Car and Driver, the 2023 Tesla Model Y crossover overtook the Toyota RAV4 as the best-selling SUV of 2023’s first quarter. 

The latest reports show that the RAV4 sold about 84,704 units through the year’s first three months. But Automotive News estimates that the Model Y sold more than 85,000, barely edging out its Toyota rival. That places the Model Y’s sales numbers behind only the big three American pickup trucks. 

It’s important to note that specific sales numbers are not available for the Model Y. Tesla does not disclose that information. Car and Driver ranks Tesla models in its sales lists according to sales estimates. While estimates say the Model Y has outsold the RAV4 so far, it’s also possible that the RAV4 has kept the lead. Regardless, the Tesla crossover has undoubtedly gained ground since last year.  

Why is the Tesla Model Y gaining popularity?

A white Tesla Model Y with a red paddleboard on its roof in front of a river and mountains.
Tesla Model Y | Tesla

One of the primary reasons for the Model Y’s surging popularity might be due to Tesla’s 2023 price cuts.  

After a long absence, the Tesla Model Y base model has returned at a price just below $50,000. Add in the available federal EV tax credit, and the net cost of a new Model Y drops close to $40,000 – which happens to be the average price of a new car in 2023. 

The Model Y is suddenly affordable for a much larger swath of the car-buying population. And shoppers are taking advantage of the situation. 

Toyota RAV4 led SUV sales in 2022, well ahead of Tesla Model Y

The Toyota RAV4 wasn’t just the best-selling SUV in the U.S. for 2022 – it was the best-selling car in the world. According to Car and Driver, Toyota sold nearly 400,000 RAV4s in the U.S. alone last year. Meanwhile, the Tesla Model Y was further back. Its estimated 231,400 units sold cracked the top 10 in the U.S. but fell well short of the RAV4. 

Will the Toyota RAV4 regain its position as America’s best-selling SUV?

The Toyota RAV4 will likely end the year as the best-selling SUV of 2023. Estimates show that the Model Y has the lead, but the race is still neck and neck.  

The RAV4 has more than a fair shot to overtake the EV in the next eight months. The Model Y may be benefitting from a price drop. Still, the RAV4 has its reputation and the robust U.S. Toyota dealer network on its side. We’ll have to check the standings in a few months to see whether Toyota’s perennial sales leader has been dethroned. 


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