The Big Picture: U.S. Auto Sales In 2016 By Category

The lion's share of new vehicles sold in the United States of America during calendar year 2016 were SUVs and crossovers.

Just under 40% of the new vehicles sold – 6.93 million of the 17.55 million total vehicle sales – were SUVs and crossovers, a category led in 2016 for the fifth consecutive year by the Honda CR-V. Within that category, traditional body-on-frame SUVs accounted for 11% of the sales.

Passenger car volume was only slightly less numerous. Indeed, depending how you label certain cars and certain utility vehicles (Subaru Crosstrek? Honda HR-V? Volvo V60 Cross Country?), sales were essentially level from one category to the other, as our market share chart shows.

(Click the above chart for a larger view.)

The difference, however, is that car sales slid 9% while SUV/crossover sales jumped 8%, a trend continuing from 2015 when car sales dropped 2% and utility vehicle SUV/crossover volume shot up 16%.


Pickup trucks, similarly enjoyed a rapid sales expansion in 2016, though pickup truck volume isn't yet back to the levels seen prior to the recession. Americans registered 2.7 million new pickup trucks in 2016, a 6% increase compared with 2015, but still below the 3.2 million pickups sold in 2005. 

15.3% of the new vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2016 were pickups.

Minivans, like pickup trucks, don't sell at the levels they did prior to the recession. After a strong start to the year, minivan volume ended up rising 6%. (Sales declined sharply over the final five months of the year after jumping 23% through July.) 3.2% of the new vehicles sold in America in 2016, or 553,506 units, were minivans. Americans registered more than 1 million minivans as recently as 2005.

Commercial vans filled in the gaps. As you've already seen, the biggest market share increases by brand involved Ram, Jeep, Subaru, Nissan, and Honda. 

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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