Full-Year 2020 Sales Report: Surprising Trends Emerge In A Topsy-Turvy Year (UPDATED)

SUVs, as ever, were king

2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
While Mazda took as big a hit to their sales figures as any automaker last year, the MX-5 Miata actually picked up its pace over 2019. (Photo: Mazda)

Quick note: The charts in this post are mostly empty as of early January 5, since we’re still waiting on numbers to come in. Check back often for more updates!

The final 2020 sales report is rolling in – Brace for impact?

As we all return to our usual (I’m using that word loosely here) routine, automakers are publishing their sales report showing what I and analysts throughout the industry have been waiting to see. How has the novel coronavirus pandemic hit sales? Back in March and April, we obviously saw car sales dive as most of us quarantined in our homes. Later in the year, though, business bounced back. Hyundai, for example, actually slightly improved its December monthly sales over 2019 (it was still down 10% in YTD sales). Stronger performance in the back half of 2020 helped cushion the blow for some.

Bear in mind, some manufacturers have yet to report as of this morning, January 5. As numbers roll in, I’ll continue to outline how each brand performed, as well as mention the most surprising models in either direction. Despite the objectively terrible year that was 2020, not every car fell behind where it performed in 2019.

Brand sales: Full-year 2020

Brand2020 sales2019 salesChange (by %)
Alfa Romeo18,58618,292+2.0%
Land Rover
*Ford, GM and Toyota brand sales figures include car and truck sales.
Tesla’s 2020 sales report showed staggering gains, which likely came down to the company’s online sales model. (Photo: Tesla)

Biggest gains and losses by model

While some brands experienced a significant drop in 2020, that’s not true for some individual models. SUVs, as you’d expect, fared significantly better than passenger cars. So far (as of early morning on January 5), the Hyundai Palisade showed a substantial gain on the 2020 sales report compared to 2019. Mind you, that SUV didn’t experience a full sales year (it went on sale around mid-2019), but that’s a huge acceleration given the circumstances.

Each entry in the biggest gains and losses here reflects on a percentage year-over-year change from 2019. The GMC Acadia still managed to shift about 73,000 units in 2020. That’s still far behind the typical pace for that model, which sold nearly 100,000 units in the previous year.

I also excluded cars that were already discontinued as of 2020. Cars like the Cadillac ATS or Buick Regal will show huge losses since they’re out of production. Others that ended in 2020, like the Cadillac CT6 or Chevy Impala, though, are fair game.

Again, this 2020 sales report chart isn’t complete as numbers are still rolling in on January 5. Check back often for more updates!

BrandBiggest gainBiggest loss
AcuraRLX: 1,055 (+3.5%)NSX: 128 (-46.2%)
Alfa RomeoGiulia: 2,560 (+10%)4C: 99 (-31%)
AudiQ3: 27,251 (+84%)A7: 2,859 (-42%)
BMWBMW X6: 7,313 (+68.6%)i8: 191 (-83.0%)
BuickEnclave: 12,338 (+21.6%)Encore: 28,497 (-77.8%)
CadillacEscalade: 9,454 (+6.4%)CT6: 3,117 (-60.8%)
Chevrolet*Blazer: 94,599 (+62.8%)Impala: 9,942 (-77.9%)
ChryslerNone (no cars gained)300: 16,653 (-43%)
DodgeNone (no cars gained)Grand Caravan: 38,767 (-68%)
FiatNone (no cars gained)500X: 1,443 (-43%)
Ford*Explorer: 226,217 (+20.9%)Fusion: 110,665 (-33.4%)
GMC*None (no cars gained)Acadia: 72,537 (-27%)
HondaPassport: 39,567 (+9.6%)Clarity: 4,215 (-63.8%)
HyundaiPalisade: 82,661 (+65.3%)Elantra: 105,475 (-39.8%)
InfinitiNone (no cars gained)QX60: 22,880 (-47.0%)
JeepNone (no cars gained;
Gladiator results on TFLtruck)
Cherokee: 135,855 (-29%)
KiaTelluride: 75,129 (+28.2%)Cadenza: 1,265 (-22.4%)
Land Rover
LexusGX: 28,519 (+9.9%)RX: 101,059 (-9.0%)
LincolnAviator: 23,080 (+177.3%)Nautilus: 22,742 (-28.3%)
MazdaMX-5 Miata: 8,807 (+13.6%)CX-3: 8,335 (-48.6%)
Mercedes-BenzGLB: 23,183 (+1,876.4%;
first full sales year)
C-Class: 26,294 (-46.5%)
MiniNone (no cars gained)Countryman: 9,394 (-35.3%)
MitsubishiNone (no cars gained)Eclipse Cross: 10,319 (-47.3%)
NissanNone (no cars gained)Sentra: 94,646 (-48.7%)
PorscheTaycan: 4,414 (33x; first full sales year)Panamera: 3,447 (-41.6%)
SubaruNone (no cars gained)Impreza: 43,628 (-34.3%)
TeslaModel 3/Y (reported together): 454,932None (no cars lost)
ToyotaSupra: 704 (+102.8%)Yaris: 6,437 (-70.8%)
VolkswagenPassat: 22,964Jetta: 82,662 (-18%)
VolvoV60: 1,311 (+52.3%)V90: 279 (-44.2%)
*Ford, GM and Toyota brand sales figures include car and truck sales.
2020 Toyota GR Supra
While trucks stemmed bigger losses, the iconic Supra was technically the only Toyota model to gain sales ground in 2020 (even though 2019 was a partial sales year).