By on December 22, 2014

2014 Mazda 5GM Canada sold only 32 copies of its Chevrolet Orlando in November 2014, the worst month yet for the rapidly declining Mazda 5 alternative.

Although the Orlando set an impressive sales pace in its first 18 months in Canada – 2612 were sold during 2012’s fourth-quarter – it’s been in free fall ever since. Sales have declined in 19 of the last 22 months. 2013 volume was down 68%. Through eleven months, Orlando volume in 2014 is off by 43%.

Initially, the second-generation Kia Rondo appeared ready for liftoff. Rondo volume through the first half of 2014 was up 62% to 3582 units. But Kia Canada sold only 1660 in the last five months, a 58% drop.

Kia sold nearly 10,000 Rondos in Canada both in 2008 and 2009, but without a big December turnaround, they likely won’t top the 6000-unit mark in 2014, the first time in the model’s history it will fail to climb beyond the 6K barrier.

To say the Mazda 5 has improved on its 2013 Canadian output is to say that the 5 is having its second-worst Canadian sales year since the mini-minivan arrived in 2005. Mazda sold 11,944 5s in its best Canadian sales year, 2008, but they likely won’t top 4000 units in 2014.

As a trio, these MPVs are down 12% this year to 10,115 units. (November volume tumbled 47% to just 510 units.) In a market that’s favoured each of them at different moments in the recent past, their combined failure to generate as many sales as, for example, the Honda Odyssey, is notable. Canada is, after all, a market that supposedly favours affordable, efficient, smaller vehicles, and it’s a market that’s registering more new vehicles than at any time in the country’s history.

Canada minivan sales chart November 2014 YTDThe affordability quotient plays a large role in the Dodge Grand Caravan’s overwhelming domination in Canada’s minivan market. Excluding the trio of mini-MPVs from the equation, the Grand Caravan owns 61% of Canada’s minivan market in 2014. (That figure rises to 72% when the Chrysler Town & Country is thrown into the mix.) The Odyssey, Kia Sedona, Nissan Quest, Toyota Sienna, and Town & Country combined for 30,543 sales over the first 11 months of 2014; the Grand Caravan shot up 11% to 48,619. With an advertised base price below $20,000 and full Stow’n’Go pricing below $27,000, the Grand Caravan doesn’t just take the dollars and cents fight to the Sienna and Odyssey but to the Orlando, Rondo, and 5, as well.

True, November was a particularly difficult month for the smaller trio. Even non-Chrysler/Dodge vans combined to outsell the Orlando/Rondo/5 by nearly three-to-one. Small crossover volume was booming, too, with Canada’s four top-selling small utility vehicles – Escape, RAV4, CR-V, Rogue – rising 29% to 13,604 units.

But can we expect any major change in the near future? Americans have now rejected the Mazda 5 and the Kia Rondo and are not permitted to welcome the Chevrolet Orlando. Yes, in some small measure, automakers are willing to cater to the unique Canadian market, but when the products are faltering, flopping, and failing, we can’t expect them to do so for long.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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48 Comments on “Small MPVs In Rapid Canadian Sales Decline...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    In come the small crossover, out go the small MPV. No surprises here

  • avatar
    petezeiss

    Too bad about the Mazda 5. Very nice, right-sized (slightly larger Fit) and Japanese, but such crappy ride height. Can’t imagine having one in snow country.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @ petezeiss….When the gas first shot up to $5.00, lots of folks tried them out. A couple of harsh Canadian winters later. Lots of folks dumped them.

      • 0 avatar
        petezeiss

        Not surprised, Mikey. They were such ground-huggers, if the plows weren’t out yet, you’d be screwed. That’s the only reason I never seriously checked them out.

    • 0 avatar
      RetroGrouch

      My rear wheel drive E46 on snows handles everything the typical NY metro area nor’easter can throw at it. I cannot imagine how 95% of the US population (30% of Canada?) would need more ground clearance than what a Mazda 5 offered. I can certainly imagine how 95% of Americans think they need a Canyonero if it might rain next week.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      The 5 is more suited to encouraging stingrays to mate. That’s the only creature who’d find it attractive.

    • 0 avatar
      VW16v

      The Mazda 5 has the worst crash ratings of any car/van sold today. Offset tests show the steering wheel practically touching the driver seat. Very poor safety engineering.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        And yet, my wife and youngest daughter survived a rear end collision from a 1982 Chevy Silverado Dually going at 60 mph, pushing her into and under a 2008 Toyota Highlander in our 2012 Mazda 5 GT. The 5 did an admirable job of protecting them folding in at the crumple zones in the front and rear flawlessly as well as deploying the front and side air bags. The car was totalled but my wife and daughet walked away from it.

  • avatar
    mikey

    My 10 year old Grand daughters hockey bag is bigger than she is. Just try taking her and a team mate to a weekend tournament, in say North Bay. The Orlando is just not going to cut it. My daughter drives a Grand Cherokee. She finds it a little cramped…

    Drive through any middle, to upper class suburb in the GTA. Houses start at around 450 to ???. League hockey can eat up thousands from the family budget. Is it any wonder that that the Dodge van dominates that market ?

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    Isn’t the Journey also popular in Canada? I would think that it would be cheaper than these small minivans.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      They’re popular, but their prices largely parallel the minivans so far more people end up seeing the value proposition there and go for the Grand Caravan. I would too if I were in the market for a cheap people mover, if only for the powertrain. A Value Package minivan still gets the Pentastar V6 and 6 speed trans where the VP Journey gets a 4 banger and 4 speed auto.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        Oh. Well I’d take the Caravan all day then. 4 banger, 4 speed Dodge Journey? No thank you.

        I also don’t want a Journey no matter the powertrain.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Meh, I’m not much of a fan of CUVs in general, but I like the high end Journeys with the V6/AWD better than the Edges I used to tool around in. Faster, better handling, radio that works.

          • 0 avatar
            MoDo

            I rode in a Dodge Caravan and then a V6 Journey last week. The Journey rode about 10X better than the van.

            No wonder those things are everywhere, I’am willing to bet people are going into Dodge dealerships to buy vans, but test drive and then buy the Journey instead.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            The current Edge is all style or substance. I was never a fan. I especially hated the Sport version with the 22″ wheels. It clomps around like a drunken elephant. The Explorer/Flex and Esacpe are much better vehicles.

            That being said, I got a look, and short ride in the next Edge. It is a big improvement. The 2.7TT is quick.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          The Journey is such a mess.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            You mean the minivan, no SUV, no crossover, that offers… that offers… Ah, I know, a replacement for the discontinued Avenger

            Yeah, pretty much a mess

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy Cain

      Journey’s a big seller, but progressively a slower seller as it ages with few updates. But with available all-wheel-drive and a V6, it’s not as direct a competitor for the 5 as the Rondo and Orlando. http://www.goodcarbadcar.net/2011/01/dodge-journey-sales-figures.html

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I feel like the Journey was outdated when it arrived. It has never looked right to me. Whenever I see someone driving around in one, I want to ask them why.

        Unless it’s rental white, then I assume it’s a rental.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          I’ll tell you why, with all of the FCA incentives and discounts applied you can get a loaded RT 4X4 out the door for well under $30K At that price it’s suddenly not a terrible CUV

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            That’s a good point, for people who fall into the “must buy new” crowd. I never think of those people, I just keep in mind the better alternatives available at any given time in segment.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            “That’s a good point, for people who fall into the “must buy new” crowd. ”

            Nah, remember FCA is king of the sub-prime, nobody walks, drive it home TODAY auto manufacturers

  • avatar
    maestromario

    Rust has severely damaged Mazda reputation in Canada. Combine this to the fact that the current Mazda 5 is at the end of it’s life cycle and the results are not surprising. Nobody wants to be the owner of a rusted orphan vehicle. Especially not the bank, who’s leasing terms are not favourable on the model.

    The Rondo makes me scratch my head. However like the Orlando, it was never supported by a strong advertisement campaign and aggressive financial.

  • avatar
    deanst

    I bought a mazda5 a few years ago – never really considered a dodge because their reliability scares me, and the van is just too big 90% of the time. ( bring back the “regular” caravan.). But I can see the logic for most people – the initial cost is the same, fuel economy isn’t much worse, and you get a lot more room with the dodge. But I still think a used Toyota or Honda is a better deal and will last longer than a new dodge.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    1) Those that want a small MPV as shown by the figures have probably already acquired one. And as a generally ‘frugal’ lot we have probably bought rather than leased. And I would bet, tend to hold on to our vehicles for a significant amount of time. As the owner of a Rondo, with neigbours/co-workers who own Mazda 5’s and an Orlando, I must say that we are quite pleased with our vehicles and remarkably loyal to them.

    2) In Canada you can get a Grand Caravan starting at as the article stated an advertised price of $19,950. That is less than the smaller MPV’s (mini, mini-vans/micro vans). So on a dollar per cubic foot cost the Caravan cannot be beat. At that price, even with the inevitable repair/replacement costs, if you ‘flip’ it after 4 or 5 years, your annual cost of ownership is still quite low.

    3) The mini-van is just about unbeatable as a suburban hockey commuting vehicle. Just like the previous poster we tried a Grand Cherokee and while good for those out of town trips, it did not have the space for the regular home games and practices. We used Caravans and/or Montanas/Venture for hockey for over 12 years. With the Caravans we took out the middle row of seats, moved the back row into the middle. Voila, seating for 5 and room for all their equipment. With the Montanas/Venture it depended upon the year/model. The original ones had GM/s modular seating with 3 in the middle row and almost infinite re-configurations available. For hockey all but the largest SUVs do not meet all the requirements, as you need to be able to fit your sticks and most SUV’s are not wide enough for them, which means carrying them lengthwise in the passenger area or trying to fit them in width wise horizontally which can be done in a minivan but not most SUV.

    However, we always knew when the American teams were at a tournament by the number of Suburbans, Navigators and even full sized converted vans in the parking lot. Those also worked in this role but at a large fuel cost.

  • avatar
    dwford

    These mini mini vans suffer the same problem as the compact trucks did – not enough cheaper in price to justify the loss of utility. We were all complaining a couple years ago that Ford wasn’t bringing the gas CMax and Grand Cmax over and that GM wasn’t bringing the orlando. I guess they were right after all

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      As someone who would love a Grand C-Max, S-Max, Tourneo Connect, or Galaxy, I’ve done the math vs the Ford crossovers here. The MPVs wouldn’t have a chance on the Ford lot. The Explorer, Flex, Edge, and Escape would stomp all over them ith their superior horsepower, lower prices and better looks (subjective but the market has spoken). If the Flex has a hard time selling a few thousand units a month, why would the S-Max sell a few hundred?

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      The Grand Caravan tends to sell with big discounts. If one looks only at a price point, the GC is hard to beat.
      My wife and I bought one in 2002 for that reason – you can’t get much else for the same price and you’d have to sacrifice interior room to beat the price.
      The problem is you pay for it in the long run due to poor quality and durability.
      I view it as a lesson learned.
      Our second mini-van is a Sienna and it is vastly superior in quality and durability.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    The Kia Rondo and Mazda 5 are, objectively, pretty lousy cars. The main reasons to buy a smaller minivan are fuel economy and better handling. Neither the Kia or the Mazda is much more economical than a Dodge Grand Caravan, and neither handles decently. On top of that, neither has been all that reliable in Canadian conditions.

    I’m not surprised that Canadians aren’t very eager to pay more money for less van.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Heavy (sorry if my previous eaten response does show up).

      On what do you base your statement?

      Rondo was recommended by Consumer Reports. Very few if any recalls. We bought on the recommendation of a veteran, respected auto journalist who bought one for his family.

      Over 40 years of auto ownership, it is one of my favourites. Multiple drivers from 5’2″ to 6’2″ all like its seating, visibility and ease of driving and yes it handles much better than our vans (Caravans and Montanas).

      Caravan, Town & Country,Routan, Odyssey and Sedona all have less than stellar reputations. And except for cost per cubic foot (Caravan) and ability to move furniture are not as versatile.

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle

        It’s based on driving them and having a lot of close friends in the auto service industry. Kias and Hyundais just aren’t holding-up under Canadian conditions. Maybe it’s something to do with their owners, but it’s not uncommon to see a 6-9 year old Kia that’s not worth fixing.

        It’s your typical “you need a wheel bearing, but you should replace the ball joints and links at the same time, and your shocks are leaking, and you’re due for a brake job, and the exhaust is going, and the body’s starting to get weak.” All of that adds-up to more than the car is worth. It’s very similar to a Grand Am in that way (where did they all go?).

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          9+ year old models, I can see as the quality and durability were not quite there yet. But models after that seem to be holding up quite well. We are not talking Ponys, RX-V’s and first generation Sportages here.

          Many previous generation Sonatas, Elantras, Accents, Rios, Fortes, Santa Fe’s, Sportages, first generation Souls etc still going strong. As well as Rondos.

          As for driving, having now owned 2 Korean built cars, I would say that there driving dynamics are equal to those of other cars in their price range and in many instances superior.

          Korean cars seem to have made the same rapid increase in quality that the Japanese made in the early to mid 80’s.

          Funny that you should mention the Grand Am. True that there are not as many around, but I do notice a ton of Malibus, nearly all with a rust spot just under their gas tank inlet/cap. They seem to be holding up quite well.

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            Arthur,

            Not 9+ years, 6 to 9. I didn’t mention other contributing factors like interiors that are falling apart. Perhaps the current generation will do better, but I wouldn’t take it on faith.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          Except, Hyundai (whose models are basically mechanically identical to Kias) is one of the top selling brands in Canada and together, Hyundai and Kia outsell Toyota in Canada (which isn’t the case in the US) and Mazda is a lot more popular in Canada than in the US.

          The issue isn’t with the automakers but with the fact that MPVs have fallen out of favor.

          And considering that the Rondo is a Kia Euro model, Kia does well in UK/Euro reliability/satisfaction surveys.

          For Auto Express’s 2014 Driver Power rankings, Kia places 5th out of the larger brands, placin right behind Porsche and right ahead of Mazda.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Except that considering the popularity of Kia (and Hyundai) and Mazda in Canada, where H/K outsell Toyota and Mazda isn’t an afterthought, has more to do with buyers switching to CUVs from MPVs than anything else.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    Also worth noting, most mini and microvans don’t get much promotion, while Dodge puts a hefty budget into promoting the Grand Caravan – I wouldn’t be shocked if a lot of the market doesn’t entirely think about small MPVS existing, but they absolutely know about the Caravan.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    It’s too bad the Orlando never made it stateside, if only for the lulz. Can you imagine the confusion at the rental car counters in Orlando, FL?

    “Sir, here are the keys to your Orlando”
    “I don’t want the keys to the city, I just want my damn car!”

    and so on

    • 0 avatar
      Blaz

      At Orlando int. airport different rental agencies share the same car pool. My experience is that at the counter you are encouraged to pick your car from an A, B, C, etc. parking section, depends on what size/type of a vehicle you have booked. Cars are unlocked with their keys in and ready to go. You can test drive them before you make a final pick. All you need to do at the end is to stop at the exit gate for a quick check-out (rental agency already has your credit card details).

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    I guess hockeymoms have deluded themselves into thinking CUV’s look hipper than mini-minivans. They both suck.

  • avatar
    Mr24

    My wife owns a ‘5’ with the 6 speed manual. She thinks it’s terrific. It’s fine in the snow (no more than 15cm anyway) and is a breeze in tight spaces, like parking lots. The shifter is decently weighted and accurate for what it is.

    I overall find the vehicle to be coarse, with all sorts of little vibrations coming from the controls and lots of wind noise. Strong cross breezes can be rather exciting.

    At least we both agree it would be miserable on a long road trip.

    She claims she would get another… but maybe I can veer her into a sedan like the ‘6’ next time. My 2 cents…

  • avatar
    mikey

    “Some people just want a cheap utilitarian ride”…Exactly. All of us, other than the filthy rich, balance our needs, against our wants.

    The CUV, though not my choice, seems to work for a whole lot of people. As does the mini van.

  • avatar
    boozysmurf

    Lets see if this one comes through: I’ve posted a few times, but I have yet to have a post get through the SPAM filter here.

    From what I see, there’s a couple of things holding the Rondo back.

    First, since its redesign, it’s barely differentiated from the Soul. The Soul gives up some space in the back, to be sure, but looks more interesting, gets better mileage, and is cheaper. Second, the Rondo lost a lot of the functionality it had in its previous (extremely distinctive) design: it’s not tight inside by any means, but I shopped the 2012 Rondo with a friend who was having Twins, and I’ve talked with him since: he test drove a 2014 Rondo, and wouldn’t buy it now, where he adores his 2012, which has all the room for his things (he also does occcasional part-time duty as an Ottawa Senators crowd-mascot, and it carries his costume with aplomb).

    The Mazda5 … Gawd, I want to love it, and I just.. can’t quite. THe mileage is atrocious, considering its size, and it desperately needs an upgraded drivetrain. As a use-of-space example, it’s pretty much second to none, however. Also, the single biggest problem with Mazda (in Canada, at least) is that while the base prices tend to be competitive, getting ANYTHING as an option jumps the price dramatically. You can just buy a lot more feature, for a lot less.

    The Orlando, that doesn’t shock me. I test drove one with the same soon-to-be-father-of-twins, and it was cramped, badly organized, and wasn’t great to get into and out of, in comparison to either the Rondo, Soul, or 5.

  • avatar
    Joss

    I’d go Quest because nobody else is.

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