Our man Derek Kreindler lives in Canada. That means his life is enriched by things we Americans can only imagine, such as Tim Hortons and the phrase “Bob’s your uncle.” Also, politeness.
In years past, the differences have been huge. Canada used to get Lada, for example. And they got a rebadged, upmarket Honda Civic sold first as the Acura EL, and then as the Acura CSX. They got the Dodge Intrepid as a Chrysler and a compact Nissan SUV called the X-Trail. And while Canada was getting all the cool stuff, what could we Americans hold over their heads? Mitsubishi, which didn’t come to Canada until 2003. So, really, it’s hard to tell who fared better.
To see if Canada still has anything to brag about, I spent four minutes looking at cars on Yahoo Canada. I now consider myself an expert on Canadian automobiles, and would be happy to answer any fuel economy questions using kilometers per liter. More importantly, I found seven automotive differences between the US and Canada, three of which are merely different names. Undoubtedly, Derek knows of at least one more, which he will e-mail me about as he politely sips a cup of coffee at Tim Hortons.
Yes, we Americans will be getting the 320i someday soon, for reasons beyond the comprehension of BMW customers, BMW dealers, and probably BMW North America. But Canada always had a base-level 3 Series – even after the famed 318ti said goodbye to our great land. Canada got an E46 320i which made 170 horsepower, then an E90 323i, which boasted all of 201 horses. The new 320i has the same 180 horses as the American version, which gives dealers a way to advertise low lease rates online.
The Chevrolet Orlando’s existence in Canada is especially annoying because they named it after an American city and deliberately didn’t sell it here, likely just to taunt us.
Fortunately, we’re not missing much. The Orlando is one of those car/van/crossover things that GM probably thought would appeal to all but actually alienates everyone equally. Van buyers don’t want it because it’s too much like an SUV; SUV buyers don’t like its van stying, and car buyers think it’s too much like both a van and an SUV.
That means it will probably go the way of the Ford Flex: annually increasing ugliness and incentive spending until they throw 400 horsepower at it just to please journalists.
In America, Chevrolet doesn’t have a compact SUV. Of course, this isn’t strictly true. Chevrolet does sell a nine-year-old Saturn Vue called the Captiva Sport, but it’s only available to fleet buyers. Interestingly, no one has complained about not being able to buy one like they have with the Caprice. That could be because there are about 900 Captiva Sports in CarMax’s inventory, each in white with a tan interior that has inexplicable burn marks in the upholstery.
Anyway, back to Canada. In Canada, Chevrolet does have a small SUV. It is, for some reason, called the Trax, and it makes 138 horsepower. It’s based on the Buick Encore; both are based on a European-market Opel called the Mokka. Yes, Mokka.
There are no plans to bring the Trax to America, which is nice for CarMax, because the last thing they need is competition for those Captiva Sports.
Ford Expedition Max
As you know, Chevrolet has two full-size SUVs: the Tahoe and the Suburban. But, surprise! That’s really just one SUV stretched to become two SUVs. It’s great marketing, really.
Ford has done the same thing, except far more subtly, which is always a wonderful strategy when your goal is maximizing sales. There’s an Expedition and a longer Expedition, called the EL. Hands up if you’re stunned to discover the Expedition still exists as a new car.
Anyway, in Canada, Acura already sold a car called the EL (the upscale Civic clone discussed above), so Ford had to think of something else. Clearly, the eventual name – Expedition Max – was the result of some long nights in Dearborn. At least it wasn’t Mokka.
To the detriment of Mercedes fans in the US, but probably to the greater detriment of Mercedes fans in Canada, our neighbors to the north get the B-Class. The decision to sell the B-Class in Canada came as part of a global Mercedes program to see if there was any market that actually liked the B-Class. Alas, Canada, like Europe, also didn’t like the B-Class – but at least they didn’t have to suffer through the two-door version. The B-Class is rumored to be headed stateside next, where it will complete its world tour of rejection.
You know it as the Outlander Sport. Canadians know it as the RVR. Owners know it as “the only new car I could get approved for.”
Yes, the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport – perhaps the swan song of the once-great “Diamond Star Motors” factory in Illinois – is sold in Canada as the RVR. Interestingly, “Outlander Sport” and “RVR” are just two of its names. The rest of the world knows this thing as the ASX, which Mitsubishi says stands for “Active Sports Crossover.” Apparently, the X is silent.
Volkswagen Golf Wagon
The Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen is sold in Canada as the Volkswagen Golf wagon. After a careful analysis that employed Google Images and lasted at least eleven seconds, I can confirm these are the exact same vehicle, except with different names. Interestingly, there’s a method to Volkswagen’s madness on this one issue, and this issue alone.
You see, Canadians are like Europeans in a lot of ways. Universal healthcare, for one. Gun control, for another. And that weird measuring system that uses numbers like 0, 10, 100 and 1000 instead of sensible integers like 12 and 5,280. But also, Canadians like hatchbacks.
Because Canadians like hatchbacks, it makes sense to call this car a “Golf” wagon instead of a “Jetta” wagon because the Golf name carries more weight in Canada. In the States, “Jetta” wagon makes more sense, because we’re familiar with the Jetta, since at least nine different girls at our high school had one.
Doug DeMuro operates PlaysWithCars.com. He’s owned an E63 AMG wagon, roadtripped across the US in a Lotus without air conditioning, and posted a six-minute laptime on the Circuit de Monaco in a rented Ford Fiesta. One year after becoming Porsche Cars North America’s youngest manager, he quit to become a writer. His parents are very disappointed.