By on April 12, 2017

2017 Honda Civic hatchback - Image: Honda

Canadian passenger car sales are falling, not unpredictably, as SUVs and crossovers continue to earn an increasingly large chunk of market share.

And yet at the top of the passenger car leaderboard, Canada’s two best-selling cars are selling at a record pace, with no small amount of help from new hatchback body styles.

Bucking the Canadian, North American, and global anti-car trend most distinctly is the Honda Civic, Canada’s best-selling car in each of the last 19 years.

Indeed, so strong have Civic sales been through the first-quarter of 2017, we’re ready to make a projection. Make it a confirmation. We’ll say it with certainty. Honda Canada’s Civic streak will reach a full two decades, twenty years, as the Civic becomes Canada’s best-selling car in 2017.

The Civic’s lead is already insurmountable.

Bolstered by surging industry-wide new vehicle demand in a record first-quarter of 2017, Honda Civic sales have jumped 23 percent, year-over-year, even as passenger car volume slid nearly 3 percent. Honda’s overall March performance, 17,392 sales, was a record monthly result for the division. 47 percent of that volume was Civic-derived.

The mostly Canadian-built Civic lineup isn’t just important to the Honda brand and its dealers. Canada’s passenger car market as a whole relied on the Civic for 12 percent of its volume in 2017 Q1, 13 percent in March.

So the Civic is strong, sure, but it’s still only mid-April. How can we know that the Civic has already locked up the best seller’s crown for a 20th consecutive year? How do we know that Honda will continue a streak that began in 1998, when Wayne Gretzky was still playing hockey?

We don’t. Technically, we don’t.

An unforeseen stop-sale order because of a faulty left phalange could send Civic volume spiralling. A maple syrup shortage could incite huge Jeep Wrangler demand as everyone heads for the forest in search of the last few drops. A joint Justin Bieber/Céline Dion concert in Winnipeg could have all Canadians piling into new Dodge Grand Caravans for the cross-country journey. Canadians could spend all their money on Frontier tuques, leaving no leftover spare change for a 60-month Civic DX lease.

But that’s unlikely.

2017 Toyota Corolla iM - Image: Toyota

The Honda Civic has already built up a 4,622-unit lead over the similarly surging Toyota Corolla, which has earned 10 percent of its volume from the former Scion iM that’s now a Toyota Corolla iM. (Corolla sedan volume is rising, as well.)

A 4,622-unit lead in the small Canadian market is not the same as a 4,622-unit lead for, say, the Toyota Camry over the Nissan Altima south of the border. This is a 43-percent margin.

To undo that gap, the Corolla will need to outsell the Civic by a 10-percent margin in each of 2017’s remaining nine months. That’s quite an ask given that in the most recent month the Civic outsold the Corolla by a 70-percent margin.

Even if Civic sales growth stalls and volume over the course of 2017’s remaining three-quarters is flat, the Corolla would need to grow its volume 52 percent, year-over-year, during the rest of 2017.

Corolla sales are up 29 percent so far this year.

Naturally, the chances for other rivals are even slimmer. The Hyundai Elantra has been the Civic’s closest challenger in each of the last six years, but Elantra volume is down 30 percent this year. While the Civic and Corolla are on track for best-ever years, the Elantra is on track for an eight-year low. The Mazda 3? Sales of the 3 are on the rise compared with a disastrous 2016, but the Civic is currently outselling the Mazda by more than 2.5-to-1. The Civic is outselling the Chevrolet Cruze, Volkswagen Golf, and Nissan Sentra combined; the seven best-selling midsize cars combined.

We’ve only seen three months’ worth of sales results, but the fat lady is done warming up her vocal chords.

She’s walking on stage.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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20 Comments on “There Are Nine Months Left In 2017, But We Already Know the Honda Civic Will Be Canada’s Best-Selling Car This Year...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I guess ugly is only skin deep.

    I should know, having owned both an xB1 and a Leaf, but I really can’t stomach this car.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      I keep seeing them on the road — and they still look droopy to me, with massive taillights. Nothing like the taut, tidy ’89 Civic Si that I liked so much.

      Oh well, it seems that lots of other people do like this one.

      • 0 avatar
        Superdessucke

        I’m one of those who do. I like the lines and low stance. I think it’ll look even better in Si guise with wider tires and lower ride height.

        And they are so, so, so refreshing in this era of tall, stubby, and boxy CUVs and slab sided sedans which look like they were designed by the B-team on a shoestring budget.

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    These new Civics are ugly as sin, but somehow the white ones with a trunk can look semi-decent from a rear 3/4 view. Still though, I can’t believe how popular they are around my area, boomerang taillights and all…

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Somebody please explain to me this new design trend of fake “grilles” on the outer ends of front and rear bumpers. They look horrible and stupid, and since they’re not smooth, they just HAVE to be bad for aerodynamics. So what’s the point?

  • avatar
    sutherland555

    When I had my 99 Civic, I used to play a stupid game on my (20km) commute: how many generations of Civics will I see? The winner stood at a 3rd gen shuttle wagon to the 9th gen. That’s 25 years or so of Civics right there.

    That’s how popular these things are here. If you threw a rock in any random parking lot here in a random direction, there’s a pretty decent chance you’d hit a Civic.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Took a ride in a coworker’s ’17 Sedan, was incredibly impressed how well it totally smothered a horrendous patch of pavement. Never experienced that in a Civic before. I really didn’t care for the high console or the typical unpleasant fabric that pervades modern cars. All I can think of when I touch this stuff is “highly fire retardant” and nothing like “soft, pleasant to touch.” Dash materials/fit were also somewhat unimpressive IMO, then again that might just be the ‘style’ of it.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      This. The Civic is a very nice blend of refinement and capability.

      As long as you can stomach the styling (which I have no problem with), I’d recommend it wholeheartedly.

  • avatar
    mikey

    With gas hovering around $3.05 U.S.D per U.S gallon, (rough math) ..I’m not shocked that the Civic is doing so well. What is shocking is that the F 150 and Dodge Ram are number one, and two. Throw in the combined Sierra and Silverado they would have to be number three.

    With the average house price in the GTA…flirting with the Million dollar mark, I would suspect the bulk of Civic sales is in the GTA. If I was carrying a 700 K Mortgage, I’d have a Civic in my garage.

  • avatar
    CaddyDaddy

    Again, I will comment on the cartoonish character of Japanese car styling. The goofy overdone front ends are horrid that will not age or maintain well. This civic looks like someone had to do an emergency brake maneuver and the whole car slid forward.

    • 0 avatar
      OldManPants

      “someone had to do an emergency brake maneuver and the whole car slid forward”

      Exactly what I thought of the previous gen CR-V except it slid backward.

  • avatar
    whitworth

    I guess I’m in the minority here, but I actually really like the styling. It looks like a far more premium vehicle than the previous Civic.

    And the ride quality is excellent, it feels like a small luxury car.

    They seem to have no problem selling them, so the exterior styling must be resonating with the right people.

  • avatar
    jjster6

    What idiot would spend 195 loonies on a tuque? My mom can knit you one for 2 bucks, eh!

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    I wonder why Civic outsells Corolla by a pretty good chunk in Canada when they’re neck-and-neck in the US.

    • 0 avatar
      stuntmonkey

      There are many reasons, but this one sums it up for me:

      Where I’m from a lot of independent driving schools…. not necessarily the better ones and sometimes one-man operations … tend to use Corollas as fleet vehicles. The good drivers tend to learn from a big-name defensive driving school and the people who want to scrape by on the least amount of effort use the no-names, and for some reason gravitate towards the car that they learned on. I’m just saying, if you are ever here on the west coast, by wary following champagne-coloured Corollas… the driving can be ..err… unpredictable

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    I’ve only owned one Civic, a 76 and it was fantastic, but rusted through structurally. I am actually shocked by how many 2017s I’ve seen in the last week, even saw one at every corner of an intersection, an I live in Truck-berta. No surprise it’s no.1 in Canada, it’s a great car, gets good mileage on our pricy gas.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Civic Wool from the sheeple. Kanada, a vast empty land full of empty heads.

  • avatar
    googly

    The new gen Civic has the most uncomfortable seats I have ever sat in. Gave me a backache in a 15 minute test drive. The curve of the seat back is unusual for my back atleast and cannot be adjusted. Not even a manual lumbar support adjustment.

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