Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

Brown bear standing on grass with a red star above it and the words "California Republic" below it

Hey California Drivers. How Does YOUR Car Rank?

When last checked, there were just shy of 26.2 million drivers in the state of California. Leading Texas (its nearest competitor) to the tune of 40%, it’s easy to see the leverage and influence the state has over the automotive industry. That said, it provides an interesting geography to base most industry studies on; so what cars rank as the most popular among the beautiful people of the ‘sunshine state’? For many of us, talk of California summons visuals of the Hollywood sign. We immediately imagine the rich and famous (with or without TMZ sightings up and down of Rodeo Drive). Well, across L.A., 2017 registrations estimated just shy of 7.7 million drivers. Accounting for close to one-third of all California drivers, this is a big piece of the puzzle. But a sales study conducted through dealerships in Los Angeles would hardly provide a fair representation of the state as a whole. After all, a relatively small percentage of L.A. dwellers are visiting MacLaren, Maserati, Mercedes-Benz or Ferrari of Beverly Hills for their next set of wheels. The vast majority are shopping based on the same criteria that you and I are.

What’s interesting is a comparison of the twenty best-selling cars in the U.S. verses the top picks in California. While the vast majority are surprisingly consistent on both lists, the glaring exception comes in the poor southwest coast showing of domestic front-runner Ford. Whereas the likes of the Fusion seems to rest comfortably on the national numbers, they’re all but absent from California’s list. Aside from the universally revered F-Series or the iconic Mustang, California just doesn’t seem to have built much of a taste for Ford (except maybe for the eco-friendly Focus). Considering the automaker’s recent announcement that they’d be culling their lineup of cars for a reimagined selection of eco-friendly cars and crossovers, one can almost feel the influence of California.

But aside from that glaring difference, California isn’t much different from the rest of us. In fact, the top spots are largely indistinguishable from one another. So, here they are, the Top 5 vehicles that California seems to share with the rest of the United States.

Taking the 5th spot is the Ford F-150 which (pretty much) stands as the best-selling vehicle in the global history of the automotive industry. Here’s a look at the 2018 model F-150, courtesy of Kelley Blue Book.

Next up is the Nissan Altima. Serving as the automaker’s best-selling models (over 5.5 million to-date) the Altima represents the continual evolution of sedan styling and “how to do it right” and retain relevance. Here’s a look at the 2019 Altima, courtesy of Redline Reviews.

The stalwart Toyota Camry remains a reliable and, for the first time in a long time, recent models also feel interesting, after a long-overdue overhaul. But we’ll get back to the Camry in a second.

The Honda Civic always feels like the unsung hero, present among the top-sellers of nearly every community throughout the U.S.  Efficient and accessibly-priced, the Civic’s value proposition isn’t even worth questioning. If you even try, you’re just wasting your time.

And sitting atop the list, is the Honda Accord which (like the Toyota Camry) is enjoying the resuscitation offered by an aggressive facelift. In fact, let’s take a look at how well these two resurrected offerings measure up against one another, courtesy of The Fast Lane Car.

So, there you have it. Outsiders to California might find it a far cry from the Bentley-ridden vision of celebrity streets, but the everyday Californian knows what to expect. For those of you interested, here’s the list (in its entirety) showing the Top 20 Cars in California, as well as how they placed within the national rankings.

  1. Hyundai Elantra (20th Nationally)

  2. Lexus ES (n/a)

  3. Chevrolet Malibu (9th Nationally)

  4. Volkswagen Jetta (n/a)

  5. Mercedes-Benz C (n/a)

  6. Hyundai Sonata (13th Nationally)

  7. Toyota Tacoma (n/a Nationally)

  8. Ford Explorer (10th Nationally)

  9. Honda CR-V (n/a)

  10. Ford Mustang (18th Nationally)

  11. Ford Focus (11th Nationally)

  12. Nissan Sentra (16th Nationally)

  13. Chevrolet Silverado (8th Nationally)

  14. Ford F-150 (5th Nationally)

  15. Toyota Prius (n/a)

  16. Nissan Altima (3rd Nationally)

  17. Toyota Corolla (7th Nationally)

  18. Toyota Camry (2nd Nationally)

  19. Honda Civic (4th Nationally)

  20. Honda Accord (1st Nationally)

Is your car (or one that you’re thinking of purchasing) included in the Top 20? The Top 5? Let us know!