The Most Popular Cars by State

Americans have a diverse set of preferences when it comes to favorite car models, but some are perennial crowd-pleasers.

With more used than new car sales taking place per year, America’s best-selling cars may not be the hottest new vehicles on the market (in fact, the average age of a car in the United States is nearly 12 years). But they certainly are the most beloved, appealing to a wide array of drivers across multiple states. Many of the most popular cars have a reputation for reliability going back decades. Take the Chevrolet Malibu, for instance, which has been in production for over half a century. These tried and true models have stood the test of time and are still some of the most popular cars in the country.

To determine the most popular car models in America this year, the data science team at Insurify turned to their database of over 2 million car insurance applications.

Insights 

  • For the third year in a row, Honda reigns supreme: Dependable, sturdy, and long-lived, the Honda Civic and Honda Accord remain the preferred car in seventeen out of fifty states. That said, the Nissan Altima has gained some traction in state-by-state rankings since last year and is the most popular car in fourteen states. Chevrolet, a subsidiary of General Motors, is also popular across the United States: the Chevrolet Malibu and the Chevrolet Impala are the most popular car in eight and four states, respectively.
  • Regional differences: There are quite a few regional differences when it comes to the most popular car by state. While the Nissan Altima is the most popular car in many states in the South and Southwest, Honda takes the lead in most of the coastal states. The Honda Accord dominates the rankings on the East Coast and the Honda Civic does the same in the West. Drivers in the Midwest tend to prefer Chevrolets—either Impalas or Malibus.
  • Body styles: When it comes to preferences in body style state-by-state, Americans tend to prefer sedans over SUVs. In fact, only two out of fifty states favor SUVs over sedans; Alaska and Wyoming prefer the Toyota RAV4 and the Ford Explorer, respectively.
  • Unique preferences: Some states stand apart from the others when it comes to car model preferences. Alaska, Hawaii, Vermont, and Wyoming are all states whose favorite cars are preferred by no other states. These four stand-alone states prefer the Toyota RAV4, Toyota Corolla, the Subaru Impreza, and the Ford Explorer, respectively.

 

Methodology 

The data science team at Insurify, an insurance quotes comparison website, referred to its database of 2 million insurance applications. When applying for car insurance, car owners must disclose their driving history, including the make and model of the car they drive. Data was grouped by drivers’ state of residence, in order to determine the most popular car in each state. These cars were then ranked based on the number of states in which they occupied the number one slot, in terms of popularity.

MSRP and MPG data were gathered from the manufacturers’ websites for the least expensive 2020 package, with the exception of the Ford Focus, which was discontinued in 2019. 2019 Ford Focus MSRP and MPG data were gathered from the Kelley Blue Book, as this information was no longer available on the manufacturer’s website. Vehicle safety ratings were gathered from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 5-Star Safety Ratings for the latest model year of each vehicle.

 

The 10 Most Popular Cars in America

10. Toyota RAV4

  • States where this vehicle ranks #1: Alaska
  • MSRP (2020): $25,850
  • MPG city/highway: 27/35
  • NHTSA Overall Safety Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

One of two SUVs to make the list this year, the compact crossover Toyota RAV4 is the tenth-most popular car in the United States. Popular across all states and America’s best-selling SUV in 2019, this IIHS top safety pick is especially preferred in Alaska. It’s easy to see why this car is such a crowd-pleaser in America’s most northern state, given its dependability in snow and in other adverse weather conditions. The Toyota RAV4 is also available as a hybrid model with competitive fuel efficiency, especially for an SUV, at 41/38 MPG for city and highway driving. 

TRENDING CONTENT ON INSURIFY

Use our handy car insurance comparison chart to figure out how to save big on auto insurance this year.

You can count on Insurify to provide you with car insurance quotes that don’t break the bank.

9. Subaru Impreza

  • States where this vehicle ranks #1: Vermont
  • MSRP (2020): $18,695
  • MPG city/highway: 28/36
  • NHTSA Overall Safety Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Ranking in eighth place this year is the Subaru Impreza, the favorite of Vermonters and the most affordable car on the list. This compact Subaru may be an unexciting drive at best, but it’s a capable car that delivers on reliability and safety. Unlike most other compact cars, the Impreza features an all-wheel-drive powertrain that makes it quite a capable car in snow. It’s a great choice for drivers up north, so we weren’t surprised to find this car to be a favorite of the Green Mountain State.

8. Ford Explorer

  • States where this vehicle ranks #1: Wyoming
  • MSRP (2020): $36,675
  • MPG city/highway: 27/29
  • NHTSA Overall Safety Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The Ford Explorer is the only midsize SUV to make the rankings this year and is Wyoming’s favorite car. Ford’s best selling SUV in 2019, the Explorer is also quite popular in the rest of the states. It’s the most costly vehicle on the list, with a starting price nearly twice that of the Impreza. But despite its price, the Ford Explorer remains one of the most popular vehicles on the market.

TRENDING CONTENT ON INSURIFY

International students: Use our guide to international car insurance to find the best policy for your needs and budget.

Ever wonder how to get a car insurance estimate without personal information? See our guide to getting an anonymous car insurance quote.

7 Toyota Corolla

  • States where this vehicle ranks #1: Hawaii
  • MSRP (2020): $19,600
  • MPG city/highway: 31/40
  • NHTSA Overall Safety Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The iconic Toyota Corolla is another one of the most long-lived model lines on this, having first been introduced in 1966. The latest development in this compact car is the 2020 Corolla hybrid, which boasts a fuel efficiency of 53/52 MPG for city and highway driving. With an MSRP of $23,100, the Corolla hybrid costs a bit less than a Toyota Prius. Priced competitively, reliable year after year, and exceptionally safe, the Corolla isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

6. Ford Focus

  • States where this vehicle ranks #1: Kansas, Maine, West Virginia
  • MSRP (2020): $19,863
  • MPG city/highway: 30/40
  • NHTSA Overall Safety Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Despite its discontinuation last year in 2019, the Ford Focus remains a favorite among drivers in the United States. The Focus features only 123 horsepower at the most basic trim level, so it’s certainly no Ford Mustang. But it’s not hard to see why this car remains a favorite among many Americans. One of the most affordable cars on the list, the Ford Focus is reliable, with better-than-average safety ratings and sporty steering and handling.

TRENDING CONTENT ON INSURIFY

Even if the car you’re driving isn’t yours or you’re borrowing a car for a short period of time, you still need insurance coverage. You’ll want temporary car insurance, and we’ll show you how to get it.

Millennials: Check out our guide to the best auto insurance for young adults.

5. Chevrolet Impala 

  • States where this vehicle ranks #1: Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota
  • MSRP (2020): $28,020
  • MPG city/highway: 19/28
  • NHTSA Overall Safety Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Ranking fifth this year for the most popular car in America, the Chevrolet Impala is the priciest car to make the list. Chevys are bestsellers in the Midwest, and the Impala is no exception, as the most popular car in Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, and North Dakota. This midsize family sedan is more roomy and powerful than its smaller cousin, the Chevy Malibu (ranking sixth on this list). The Chevrolet Impala line has been around longer than any other vehicle on this list—since 1958, to be exact—which is a testament to this car’s enduring popularity.

4. Honda Civic

  • States where this vehicle ranks #1: California, Idaho, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah, Washington
  • MSRP (2020): $20,650 
  • MPG city/highway: 32/42
  • NHTSA Overall Safety Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

There are many reasons to love the Honda Civic, and it’s no wonder that this beloved compact car ranks within the top five this year. Typically preferred by younger drivers and commuters who do not need the cargo space of larger sedans and SUVs, the affordable Honda Civic is fuel-efficient, reliable, and responsive. The Civic is also one of the most versatile compact cars on the market, available as a coupe, sedan, and hatchback. The Honda Civic Type R is also available for those seeking a flashier, high-performance ride. Given the degree of customization possible, we weren’t surprised that the Civic is such a crowd-pleaser.

3. Chevrolet Malibu 

  • States where this vehicle ranks #1: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wisconsin
  • MSRP (2020): $22,095
  • MPG city/highway: 29/36
  • NHTSA Overall Safety Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The second Chevy to make the list, the Chevrolet Malibu is the smaller, more affordable cousin of the Impala. Appealing to the eco-conscious, this midsize sedan also comes in a hybrid model, first introduced in 2009. Aside from the Chevrolet Impala, the Malibu is the longest-standing model line on the list, having first been introduced in 1964. Older model years of this car may be safer than the 2020 Malibu, which was awarded only 4 out of 5 stars this year by the NHTSA. 

2. Honda Accord

  • States where this vehicle ranks #1: Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia
  • MSRP (2020): $24,020
  • MPG city/highway: up to 30/38
  • NHTSA Overall Safety Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The Honda Accord is the second-most popular car in America. Like the Chevy Impala and Malibu, the Accord’s popularity is evergreen; first introduced in 1976, this beloved midsize sedan reached its tenth generation with the 2017 model. The Accord’s hybrid line was first introduced in 2005 and boasts an impressive fuel economy of nearly 50 MPG for both city and highway driving, despite its size. Unfortunately, what’s popular with drivers also tends to be popular with car thieves. Like the Honda Civic, the Honda Accord is one of the most stolen cars in America

1. Nissan Altima

  • States where this vehicle ranks #1: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas
  • MSRP (2020): $24,100
  • MPG city/highway: 28/39
  • NHTSA Overall Safety Rating: 5 out of 5 stars 

The Nissan Altima is the most popular car in America, according to Insurify’s analysis. Last year, the Altima ranked third but has since beat out the Honda Accord for first place. The Altima is yet another midsize sedan to make the top 10 list this year, but what sets it apart from most other cars on this list is the all-wheel-drive option available at some trim levels. In spite of what Consumer Reports describes as a “bland” driving experience, the Nissan Altima has high safety ratings and a spacious cabin. It’s a solid choice, as illustrated by its overwhelming popularity in 14 states this year. 

If you have questions or comments about this article, please contact insights@insurify.com.

Updated May 11, 2020

Insurify’s team of data scientists and content specialists presents Insurify Insights, a series of automotive, home, and health studies focusing on the topics that impact us all. Through expert analysis of over 2.5 million car insurance applications and an array of top data sources, the Insurify Insights team produces new data-driven articles, trend analyses, regional superlatives, and national rankings every week. See Insurify Insights as featured in Forbes, Fox News, USA Today, NPR, and more.