Every year, we look at the sales numbers and we see a lot of vehicles that sold a lot, as expected. We also see a lot of vehicles that we don’t particularly think very highly of that sold several thousand models. Then there are the surprises. This list is made up of cars that fit into the last two categories. A few cars on this list have a history of selling well. While we don’t particularly think that highly of them the fact is people like them. The others are interesting because they sold well despite the fact that they're outdated designs.
The Nissan Altima is one of those models that we know is well-liked. It’s a fairly attractive four-door midsize sedan with either a fuel efficient 186 hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine or a powerful 270 hp 3.5-liter V6 under the hood. The car is practical and easy to live with, but it doesn’t compare well to the competition. The Honda Accord and Mazda6 offer better driving dynamics, and cars like the Chevrolet Malibu and Hyundai Sonata have better laid out and styled cabins. Still, Nissan sold 307,380 Altimas in 2016, so the vehicle is definitely appealing to car buyers.
The Nissan Versa is built for one reason. To be America’s cheapest new car. That being said, it offers everything you need for basic transportation, and its 109 hp 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine will get you where you’re going. Just don’t expect to enjoy the drive much. This car is built only to be cheap and efficient. That’s why we’re not huge fans. Still, we get the appeal. If you want a very affordable car and don’t care about technology or how the thing drives, this car makes sense. That’s why Nissan sold 132,214
Do you really need a minivan, but can’t bring yourself to buy one? Don’t worry the Dodge Journey is here for you. It offers either a 173 hp 2.4-liter four cylinder or a 283hp 3.6-liter V6, front or all-wheel drive, three rows of seating, and a practical and easy to use interior and cargo space at an affordable, family-friendly price. All that being said, there are plenty of other three-row SUVs out there that are better vehicles, though just about all of them will come at a higher price point. Appealing to growing families’ pocketbooks seems to be working because Dodge sold 106,759 Journeys in 2016.
The Jeep Patriot won’t continue after 2017, but the model has had a heck of a run, especially recently. This ancient design by modern car standards has been raking in the sales as of late. The model is simply well-liked by everyone but automotive journalists. It’s an affordable front or all-wheel-drive Jeep that comes with either 158 hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder or a 172 hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. The Patriot is a surprise to industry experts because it’s wildly outdated, yet still sold 121,926 models in 2016.
Another aging model that’s surprised the industry is the Nissan Frontier. The model’s design is more than a decade old and the truck continues to sell well. People are choosing the affordable Frontier over the freshly designed GMC Canyon and Honda Ridgeline. This mid-size pickup comes with either an extended cab or a crew cab, a 152 hp 2.5-liter engine or a 261 hp 4.0-liter V6 engine, and not too much in terms of amenities. Compared to its competitors its ancient, but the vehicle can still tow and haul like a boss, so who’s to say it shouldn’t sell well? Nissan moved 86,926 new Frontiers off lots in 2016.