Not too many Americans make it to South America in their travels. We take a lot of holidays in the Caribbean, but anything south of the Gulf of
Mexicois left for the odd Machu Picchu hiker or Rio de Janeiro tourist wanting to experience Carnaval.
How do South Americans get around? Some answers might confirm your suspicions and others might surprise you. We took a closer look with the help of Donut Media’s James Pumphrey to discover the
top sellersin each country of the continent.
The world’s top car brand is South America’s top car brand
South America’s relationship with
Japanis bigger than you think. The little Pacific nation’s culture can be seen everywhere, from its anime entertainment to its martial arts. But its strongest influence might be in transportation.
Toyota, the biggest car company in the world, tops the list of at least five of the continent’s 16 countries and territories.
Its Hilux pickup truck, though
not available in the U.S., is the most popular model in Argentina and Peru. In Venezuela, the SUV version of the Hilux, called the Toyota Fortuner, has the most owners.
Other Toyota models top the charts in Guyana and Suriname. Suzuki, another Japanese brand, makes the top selling models in Chile.
Other popular car brands in South America
The only brand competing strongly with Toyota south of Panama is one Americans know well. General Motors’
Chevroletis a favorite across the continent, with models topping the charts in five countries.
The most popular model in South America is actually a Chevy we don’t have in the U.S. The Onix is a four-door subcompact car that looks very much like the Chevy Sonic you can buy here. It tops the list in
Brazil, Columbia, Paraguay, and Uruguay.
But not every popular car brand in South America is a familiar sight on U.S. roads. French carmaker Renault does very well in Columbia and sells the most popular car in French Guiana.
Volkswagen, while not at the top of the list of models sold in any South American nation, is very popular in Argentina and Uruguay, according to
What’s the common thread of South America’s most popular cars?
South America is not known by Americans as a automaking region. The few brands that originate there—Brazil’s Chaminox and Obvio!, Uruguay's Effa Motors—are not sold in the U.S. and don’t do as well as industry giants like Toyota and GM in their home countries.
But looking at the cars they produce and comparing them to the most popular models coming in from outside the continent shows you what sells in South America—small, affordable cars and trucks that can be easily repaired.
Our automotive trends might look different from those south of the equator, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take notes. Buying the types of cars that are popular in South America can save you a lot of money on ownership expenses like fuel and
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