By on April 10, 2013

The end of Q1 2013 in the United States saw numerous competitors in the mid-size sedan segment duking it out for the Number 1 spot. North of the border, the situation followed a familiar pattern as well; the race for the sales crown was dominated by compact sedans, rather than mid-sizers.

While the Hyundai Elantra hung on to its year-to-date lead, the second place Honda Civic was the top seller in March, narrowing the Elantra’s lead to a mere 50 units year-to-date. The two compacts are way out in front, selling over 11,000 units each in the first quarter. The third place Mazda3 trails with 8851 units sold through March. Rounding out the top 5 are the Canadian-built Toyota Corolla and the Volkswagen Jetta, which managed to edge out the Chevrolet Cruze for 5th place.

Canada’s top sellers are much more heavily weighted to smaller, more frugal cars, given the various econmic factors at play. But that hasn’t stopped cars like the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and BMW 3-Series from cracking the top 20 either. BMW has long offered a 320i or 323i value model in Canada, priced in line with a well-equipped Honda Accord, to entice Canadian buyers into making the jump to a premium car. Only now will Americans be entitled to such a model, thanks to shifting economic and demographic factors.

On the truck side, the Ford F-Series still has a commanding lead, with 25,870 units sold, though the Ram 1500 is making a strong showing in second place with 18,189 units sold. The big losers on the truck side are the Dodge Grand Caravan, with sales down 16.6 percent year-to-date, and the Honda CR-V, which saw a nearly 35 percent decline.

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34 Comments on “Hyundai Elantra, Honda Civic Locked In Race For Canada’s Best-Selling Car...”

  • avatar

    “Canada’s top sellers are much more heavily weighted to smaller, more frugal cars, given the various economic factors at play.”

    In case non-Canadians are wondering, the translation is that cars are priced ~20% higher and most provinces have a 13% sales tax. The truly annoying thing is that Ontario is one of the biggest auto producers and the cars made here are still priced way above the units exported to the US. Ontario produces a lot of big sellers like the Rav4, Corolla, Grand Caravan and Civic:

    • 0 avatar

      Both of your points have flaws.
      1) Re price. The article your quoted only compare MSRP, not actual transaction price. That makes it junk science. My local Acura dealers, for the past 3 years, offers $8k~$10k discounts on MDX, so the actual price would be more like $45k~46k~ish. I really doubt a US dealer would sell the same SUV for $35k USD.

      Typically, the price disparity for high-end cars are larger. Also larger if you trace back a few years. But as of 2013, for most of the economy models, the disparity is lower than 10%.

      2) Only parts of Canada pays 13% sales tax. For instance, I paid 5% for my new car. You know where I am. You can move here too. But if you prefer to stay in the 13% country, it’s your choice too.

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t see how comparing the MSRP of two identical makes, models and years is “junk science.” You’re cherry picking one model you’re familiar with, saying it has incentives, and then saying “but I’m sure they don’t have similar incentives in the US.”

        The article also points out that the incidental costs are way higher in Canada, e.g. freight costs being 60+% more even though the vehicle is made locally.

        Re: 13% HST it applies to the majority of the country. It certainly affects my decisions when it comes to car purchasing if the tax bill on a non-luxury family sedan is going to be $5k+.

        • 0 avatar

          Also, costs are higher for countries with a smaller population base (esp. those with their own emissions and safety standards).

          That’s why Aussies also complain about the high prices for their automobiles.

    • 0 avatar

      This is a common trap people fall into when thinking of a Canadian dollar as “equal” to a US dollar. I go to Canada for work and I can tell you that EVERYTHING is more expensive in Canada compared to US pricing. I’m talking groceries, restaurants, hotels etc. I nearly had a coronary when I got the bill at a Chili’s restaurant in Calgary. The fact is that both countries have their own currency and thinking of them as basically equal in purchasing power is just dumb. I’m ignoring the effect of exchange rates which obviously fluctuate over time.

  • avatar

    I don’t understand the allure of the Elantra. Tinny, unstable at high speed, under engineered chassis notwithstanding, I guess it sells on warranty and styling alone.

    • 0 avatar

      I can’t see how it sells on styling. When I look at the “cheap and cheerful” Hyundai’s I always get the overwhelming impression that it’s the sort of thing one would be sick of looking at in 6 months.

    • 0 avatar

      The allure of the Elantra:

      1 – no one drives Elantras at HIGH SPEED.
      2 – the chassis is “good enough”
      3- this is a race to see who can out-finance the next man. Kia, Hyundai, LG and Samsung are nothing more than slush funds to transfer American wealth to South Korea for the upcoming war with North Korea. Hyundai will make a deal with ANYBODY. Hyundais financing system is better than Honda and Hyundai will win this.

      • 0 avatar

        1. high speed = >65 MPH
        2. Chassis is not good enough. It feels flimsy and unsafe, particularly when compared with the Cruze and Focus.
        3. Hyundai/Kia may “win,” but it won’t be because of their cars.

        • 0 avatar

          While the Elantra is indeed, tinny and noisy compared to the likes of the Cruze and the Focus, I’d argue “unsafe”. I’ve driven the Elantra at speed on both the road and the race track, and it tracks decently at up to triple digit (in mph, mind) speeds. The Elantra has a stiff chassis and agile responses. It’s nowhere near horrible to drive.

          The main problem with the Elantra is that the dampers lack that last edge of firmness that the Cruze and Focus have, making it a bit bobbly over very way tarmac, but the Elantra is better to drive at speed than the wallowy Civic (haven’t driven the facelift, though) or the Corolla, so I’m not seeing it being significantly inferior to the pack.

        • 0 avatar

          The Elantra feels “tinny” b/c it uses more high tensile steel than the Cruze – which uses more traditional steel and has more sound deadening materials – which is why it is heavy for a compact sedan.

    • 0 avatar

      Carry 1911
      Did you ever drive this car ???? All reviews have been positive.
      I have driven this car as a rental and I was very impressed with over all performance…. It was not tinny or unstable
      I carry a LC9 :=)

    • 0 avatar

      The Elantra is no worse the Corolla, Sentra (or for that matter, the Versa), etc. (in fact is better) in those respects and the Corolla is the best selling compact in the US and the Versa, the best selling subcompact (albeit it is more of a compact when it comes to interior space).

      All those are fine at 70-80 mph (much better than the Cobalts and Neons of the not so distant past).

      And if you want a compact Hyundai that is more suited for Autobahn type speeds, just get the Euro-market i30 hatch (aka the Elantra GT).

      • 0 avatar

        The Elantra GT we get in Canada is made in Korea, and is certainly not the i30 in the suspension department. Read review.

        As for the regular Elantra, on my favorite piece of broken concrete/patched asphalt “road” with three really good whoop-de-doo undulations as well, it failed the 60 kph test, with clanking rear suspension and what felt like floorpan twisting, along with give-up damping. Almost as bad as an eighties Monte Carlo.

        Commercial St in Halifax, NS is the location. Current best car, to my initial chagrin, is the BRZ. Solid doesn’t begin to describe it.

  • avatar

    I can tell you why Canadians buy compacts, gasoline prices. Not sure what it is right now per liter but last time I was in Quebec it was over $5.00/gal US. When I’ve been in Alberta they are a little cheaper but still more than most of the US. Still doesn’t keep them off the roads. I’ve encountered traffic in Toronto that is worse than Chicago, NYC or LA – go figure.

    • 0 avatar

      200k-min.. Right…1.25 a litre this morning. Works out to 4.66 USD,per U.S. gallon To put that into perpective. My Cobalt took $46 Canadian to fill,and it wasn’t empty.

      • 0 avatar

        Wow, a whole $.80 more a gallon. Bankruptcy beckons. Get back to me when fuel is at European price levels, it is still way too cheap on this continent. Which is well shown by the number of F150s being sold.

        • 0 avatar

          How could gas possibly be “too cheap”

          Regardless of Europeans love of taking it from behind at the gas pump, it doesn’t mean the rest of the world is the same way.

          All countries have artificially increased fuel prices but just because one country can demand more taxes doesn’t mean they all should.

          • 0 avatar

            People of moderate means are able to make choices that should be reserved for the elite! Some people hate that.

        • 0 avatar
          Athos Nobile

          “Get back to me when fuel is at European price levels, it is still way too cheap on this continent.”

          Based on what? Why everyone has to be raped at the bowser?

          Europeans tend to buy the thing with the biggest bloody motor they can afford soon after they leave that “paradise”.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s $3.25 a gallon here in NC, which compared to SC is expensive, we get taxed out the butt here in NC on gas.

    • 0 avatar

      Is hybrid popular in Canada?

      • 0 avatar

        ha ha ha… no. Canadians are cheap, not stupid.

      • 0 avatar
        Brian P

        No. Gaining share, but still very low. The average Canadian who walks into a Toyota store and wants to buy an economical car, ends up buying a Yaris (or Corolla). The Yaris is much, much more common here than in the US, where it seems to have a maligned reputation. Here, it’s just a regular car, and a rather common one, too. The price difference for the Prius – any of its variations – is too great. It doesn’t help that, rightly or wrongly, there’s a fair bit of suspicion about battery performance and longevity in cold weather.

        Diesels are more accepted, though. Around half of VW Golf/Jetta seen on the road are TDI. And if someone is going to buy a heavy-duty pickup truck, they are almost all diesel. Almost no one buys the big block or V10 gasoline engines.

  • avatar

    “Only now will Americans be entitled to such a model, thanks to shifting economic and demographic factors.”

    i.e. “broke”

  • avatar
    Rental Man

    Why is the CR-V hurting? Who is getting their share?
    Currently, in the northeast US they barely stay in stock and if you want something specific you wait.

    • 0 avatar

      Probably because the new generation is ugly as hell, and helps the claims that Honda only sells on the backs of the brand name.

    • 0 avatar

      Because Honda (in Canada at least, and in spite of the fact that they still build decent vehicles) continues to have an elevated sense of what their vehicles are worth and therefore price accordingly. They got away with this for years. The competition from Toyota with the RAV4 was bad enough, but then Hyundai rained on their parade by building Tucsons that people actually liked and for way less money.

      As for why Canadians buy more small economy cars per capita than Americans do, the short answer is net spendable cash flow. Or lack thereof.

      After higher income taxes, a 13% sales tax, draconian property tax rates, higher fuel taxes and higher prices on just about everything— without corresponding higher incomes per capita vs. Americans— it’s easy to see why a larger percentage of Canadians than Americans choose vehicles that cost only(!)$55 to fill from empty every 500 kms (300 miles) rather than ones that cost over $100 to cover the same length of asphalt.

  • avatar

    “The big losers on the truck side are the Dodge Grand Caravan, with sales down 16.6 percent year-to-date, and the Honda CR-V, which saw a nearly 35 percent decline.”

    You mean the car side? Neither are truck based

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