The Old Tacoma Crushed The New Chevy Colorado But GM Still Won Trucks In 2015

Truck YeahThe trucks are good!

2015 was an enormous year for trucks in America. First model year of the aluminum F-150, General Motors’ return to mid-size, and of course introductions of the next Toyota Tacoma, Ford Super Duty and Nissan’s Titan XD. What were the customer favorites? Let’s see what you bought.

Ford says 2015 was the 34th consecutive year their F-Series was “America’s best selling vehicle.” That’s true if you count the light duty F-150 and heavy-duty F-250, F-350 and some F-450s as one model, but identify the mechanically identical Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra as different models.


I can hear PR guys groaning all the way from my office because this is one of my favorite things to bitch and moan about. But the fact remains that pickup truck sales reports are inherently misleading, and so we’re obligated to address that every time they’re reported.

Ford’s not the only perpetrator here, though it is particularly frustrating to hear “F-Series” referred to as “a vehicle” instead of many vehicles which would be more accurate. Some publications treat F-Series and F-150 as interchangeable terms; do not be fooled, that is not the case.

Anyway, Chevy lumps Silverado and Sierra light and heavy sales together too. Ram does the same in their lineup. In a few months it will be interesting to see if Nissan considers the Titan and Titan XD as one model or the same on their sales status report cards, but for now we’ve only got the figures from 2015 to analyze.


Full-Size Trucks


“Full-sized trucks” are now considered everything from a light-duty “half-ton” F-150, Silverado 1500, Sierra 1500, Ram 1500, Titan or Tundra up to “one-ton” F-350s, 3500s, and you get it. If you don’t get it, I’d encourage you to check out our guide to how trucks are classified!

TruckTotal Sales 2015
Ford F-Series780,354
Chevy Silverado600,544
GMC Sierra224,139
Toyota Tundra118,880
Nissan Titan12,140
Total Full-Size2,187,173

Basically, Ford looks like the breakaway winner in this category of sales, smoking every other brand on the list by a significant margin. But if you extend “Ford versus Chevy” to “Ford versus GM” which, from a business standpoint, is a more accurate measurement the combined Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra sales pass Ford’s F lineup by 44,329 units.

Last year GM wasn’t able to pull that off, selling a combined 741,588 Silverado and Sierra trucks versus Ford’s 753,851 F-Series trucks. But don’t forget; GM did have 145 Chevy Avalanche/Cadillac Escalade EXT sales that Ford didn’t have a competitor for. [Pause for laughter.]


Ram’s performance was pretty close to the same time last year.

Mid-Size Trucks


With sales of the freshly redesigned Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon in full swing throughout 2015, many of us were extremely curious to see how GM’s new mid-sized entrant would do against market mainstays Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier.

TruckTotal Sales 2015
Toyota Tacoma179,562
Chevy Colorado84,430
Nissan Frontier62,817
GMC Canyon30,077
Total Mid-Size356,886

The answer: not that great. Is the Tacoma brand that strong? Perhaps many mid-size customers decided to wait once they realized that vehicle was being revitalized as well.

There are also the well-documented issues with supply and delivery of the new Colorados that might have cut into sales numbers.


Still, the Tacoma absolutely blew everything else out of the water and you couldn’t even buy the redesigned 2016 model until halfway through the year. For now, Toyota owns mid-sized.

Meanwhile the Frontier, which everyone seems to forget about, did decent business considering Nissan hasn’t lifted a finger to update it since George W. Bush was gearing up for his second term.




So 229 lucky Americans found FJ Cruisers lurking around Toyota lots, and about twice as many(!) bought Honda Ridgelines at 520 units sold.

The Nissan Xterra sold 10,672 units in its final year of production, which is about three times as much business as Toyota did selling Land Cruisers. The most capable 4x4 nobody will see coming sold a paltry 2,687 units in America last year.


Once again we’re reminded that not many people in this country want to pay $80,000 for capability that doesn’t aggressively advertise. Still, I’m glad the 200 Series Land Cruiser is available in the U.S. even if we can’t buy a diesel version.



Jeeps are not really trucks, but the Wrangler is such a classic 4x4 we can’t run down the whole industry without addressing its massive popularity; 202,702 Wrangler sales in 2015! That’s more than double the sometimes-rival Toyota 4Runner which came out at 97,034 sales.

Fiat Chrysler better be very careful when they tinker with that upcoming Wrangler redesign, Americans just can’t stop buying these overpriced boors.


And frankly I can’t blame my countrymen because as primitive and crappy as Wranglers may be, they really are a lot of fun.


But Jeep dropped a new one on us for the 2015 model year; the Renegade. That stiff-jawed little crossover got loads of attention last year that’s frankly well deserved. It might not be extremely capable or even all that decent to drive but damn if Jeep didn’t package that thing just right.

It’s basically everything American car buyers want; rugged feeling and rugged looking, but easy to operate. And as a result the Renegade enjoyed 60,946 sales in its first full calendar year of sales. Just to prove what a difference packaging makes; the Fiat 500X which is effectively the same car in a different skin only sold 9,463.


‘All things Truck’


Let’s take a look at one last metric, one you never see compared; which automakers sold the most pickup trucks period. Not including crossovers classified as “light trucks” nor body-on-frame SUVs. Just four-wheeled vehicles with cargo beds.

Any Pickup TruckTotal Sales
All Brands2,554,659

I gave Ford a bump for the 10,080 “heavy trucks” they sold; F-650 and F-750 haulers you see moving rocks and beer trailers around. But with the help of those new mid-sized entries, it sure looks like General Motors is selling the hell out of traditional ‘Murican pickup trucks.

So is the Colorado a failed experiment since it got the crap kicked out of it in sales by a decade-old rival? Maybe. But it definitely helped GM solidify a position as the most prolific truck brand in general in 2015.


I’d also be willing to bet it brought a lot of people into dealerships who ended up leaving with Silverados, and perhaps that was its intention all along.

Did you buy a truck this year?

I’ve received quite a few e-mails from folks who bought Chevy Colorados and haven’t been able to take delivery yet. That’s a shame.


If your money is on this list somewhere, sound off and let us know if 2015 in truck sales shook out the way you thought!


Images via GM, Ford, Toyota, Honda and the author

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