Honda sold 71,578 Accords in the state last year, compared with sales of 71,210 for the Prius, according to IHS Automotive, an industry research firm that tallies vehicle registrations.
The Prius was the king of California car sales in 2012 and 2013.
Honda officials are crowing over the achievement.
"California is a bellwether state for the rest of the nation," said John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda. "We are proud to have the bestselling vehicle in the state."
"We're in a very strong position with core products like Accord, Civic and CR-V," Mendel said.
Prius' No. 2 rank came with an asterisk. The Prius comes in four variants: a hatchback, a station wagon, a plug-in hybrid and a small model for driving in congested city centers. When all versions are lumped together, the Prius comes in second.
But when IHS breaks those numbers apart, the bestselling version of the Prius — the hatchback — falls to sixth place with sales of 39,036. The others don't make the top-10 list.
Counting all Prius versions together, Toyota’s Camry and Corolla were fourth and fifth, respectively, followed by the Ford F-series pickup truck, the Honda CR-V, the
The rankings reflect the car-centric nature of the California auto market, said Tom Libby, an IHS analyst.
"The difference in vehicle mix varies so much between states that it is almost like they are different countries," Libby said. "At the other end of the spectrum is Texas, which skews toward big pickups and then domestic products."
Japanese brands accounted for eight of the top-10 sellers in California. There were seven sedans, two trucks and just one crossover.
Nationally, the Ford F-series truck was the best seller, accounting for 753,881 of the 16.5 million vehicles Americans purchased last year, according to Autodata Corp., an industry research firm.
The Chevrolet Silverado was a distant second with sales of 529,755. Chrysler's Ram pickup was third, followed by the Camry, Accord, Corolla, Altima, CR-V, Civic and the Ford Fusion.
Japanese brands accounted for six of the top 10 sellers in the U.S.. There were six sedans, three trucks and one crossover.