Top 7 Most Popular Car Brands In Canada
Canada’s car market differs from the United State’s–and the rest of the world’s–in some important ways, but even if you live elsewhere, you’ll likely recognize most of the country’s top car brands.
Today, we’re taking a deep dive into the most popular car brands in Canada, investigating why trucks are so popular, which Toyotas get the most play and why, and the surprising American brand you might not expect to see. Plus, get our top picks for each of Canada’s most popular brands–from Toyota to Hyundai to Ram to Ford and everything in between!
How We Chose Our Ratings
Whether you’re just at the beginning of your car buying process or ready to bring your new car home this weekend, we understand how important honest and accurate car reviews are. After all, this is a major financial investment you’re making!
That’s why we’re committed to bringing an analytical, evaluative approach to the rating process for you. We’ve scoured the internet for the most up to date data, plus brought your reviews from the people you trust the most–your fellow drivers.
The Top 7 Best Car Brands In Canada
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Ford vehicles claim nearly 15% of the nation’s auto industry. Does this sound surprising? It won’t, when you consider that more than half of the twenty-something million vehicles on the road in Canada today are SUVs and trucks.
That’s right; Canadians love their trucks. Whether it’s the practicality of being able to move a lot of people and a lot of stuff or their ability to handle treacherous road conditions, Ford is one of the top truck makers in the world, and it’s not surprising that it has such a large share of the Canadian market.
Here are our favorite picks from Ford’s most recent lineups:
- The newest Ford Explorer looks sleek. Bigger and with more hauling capacity than ever before, it’s 60/40 rear seat offers huge flexibility without guzzling the gas of a bigger SUV or truck.
- We love the Ford Focus and think it will continue to excel in the Canadian market because of its affordability plus economy–the Focus’ MPG is as high as 40.
- The Ford F-150 is another fan-favorite thanks to its excellent handling and comfortable ride, plus its superb towing capability.
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Ten years ago you wouldn’t have thought “trucks” when you thought “Toyota.” That’s completely different now, however, thanks to a concerted effort by the Japanese brand to bring its reputation for reliability to the truck market.
Toyota has superior reliability and resale value ratings, though you’ll often pay more upfront for your Toyota vehicle as well as when it comes time for repairs. It’s easy to understand why Toyotas are so popular in the Canadian market, however; the automotive brand makes trucks people love and subcompacts that do super well in the north.
Both also get excellent marks for fuel efficiency, which makes Toyota desirable across the board.Here are our top picks for the Canadian market:
- The Toyota Tacoma has all the power and ability from the Ford F-series, plus all the comfort, reliability, and smart engineering you’ve come to expect from Toyota. GMC, Chevy, and Ford fans convert quickly when they get the chance to drive a Tacoma!
- The Toyota Corolla is a well-proportioned subcompact that manages to still provide cargo space and comfortable passenger seating. It also barely missed an IIHS safety award, making it one of the safest and most reliable subcompacts on the road today.
- We love the Prius AWD-e, Toyota’s electric hybrid that also comes in all-wheel-drive. If you’ll be dealing with icy conditions (and you live in Canada so that you will be), but still want to sip fuel, not guzzle it, this is an excellent choice.
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Canada isn’t just a fan of Toyota; it’s also a fan of Toyota’s closest competition, Honda. Honda is the third topmost selling auto brand in the country, sitting at just under 9% of total market share, and consistently gets top billing when it comes to safety, reliability, and fuel economy.
While it hasn’t made the inroads on the truck market that Toyota has–and no doubt, that’s why Toyota is in second place while Honda is in third–it offers a solid lineup of SUVs, sedans, and subcompacts that meet the needs of almost everyone.
Here are our top Honda picks for the Canadian market:
- The 2019 Accord is consistently a top safety pick, so if safety is high on your priority list, look no further! The Accord, of course, is a sedan, so if you’re trying to haul heavy loads it’s utterly unsuitable, but it seats five while still managing tons of cargo space. Frankly, this is a tough car to top, no matter where in North America you live!
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70% of vehicles on the road in Canada today are SUVs, trucks, and other large vehicles. Like Ford, Chevrolet has earned its spot on Canada’s most popular car brands list thanks to its trucks and SUVs. GMC has kept both the Chevy and the GMC brands, which means you can find nearly identical offerings for all of our Chevy picks. Spoiler alert: GMC also does well in Canada!
Here are our top Chevy picks for Canada:
- A redesign doesn’t always result in a better vehicle, but it does here. The Silverado manages to be bigger and lighter than last year’s model, without sacrificing torque or overall power. You’ll be able to tow or haul just about anything thanks to the spacious bed in this full-size pickup.
- We can’t talk about Chevrolet without talking about the Tahoe, and the most recent Tahoe redesign is, in our opinion, one of the most attractive when it comes to styling and tech upgrades!
- The Chevrolet Equinox, unlike the similar GMC Terrain, is still assembled at the GM plant in Ontario. Its impressive gas mileage and high ratings in most car magazines make it an exceptionally attractive option when it comes to large people-movers.
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Nissan might be the “other” Honda or Toyota, but don’t tell that to Nissan lovers, who are surprisingly loyal, or to Canadians, who love the brand so much they’ve given it the number five spot on their list of most popular car brands.
Nissan, like Toyota, has built a name for foreign reliability and hasn’t been shy about expanding its prowess into the truck and SUV market. Again, that’s likely why the company does so well here in Canada; it does what Canadians like the most, trucks, SUVs, and small cars.
Interested in a Nissan? We think that’s a wise choice, considering this great picks for the Canada market:
- The Nissan Titan rivals the Toyota Tundra regarding space, towing capacity, and rugged good looks. It still won’t get quite the resale value of its bigger cousin, but if you want something with a better reliability rating than a Ford, Chevy, or GMC, the Titan is a top pick.
- The Rogue has done extremely well for Nissan, both in the US market and in Canada. It appears lots of people love the small and rapidly growing SUV for its maneuverability combined with lots of passenger room and cargo space. Plus, the Rogue gets top safety marks.
- Is the Altima as exciting as the Honda Accord? No. But it’s also cheaper and might even be a better car, all other things being equal. If you’re in the market for a full-sized sedan, it’s one of our favorites thanks to its handling and cargo space. Nothing beats practicality in a vehicle you have to drive every day!
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Hyundai coming in at the number six spot of Canada’s most popular car brands is a bit of a head-scratcher, especially when you consider that the automaker doesn’t offer trucks! The brand, however, has managed to pivot from a cheap, junky brand to reputable brand known for inexpensive quality; i.e., a great value.
Part of the Korean company’s success in Canada is because Canada was its first point of entry into the North American market; and Canadians awarded the manufacturer richly, falling hard for the Pony, the small rear-wheel-drive car that ended production in the 90s.
An incredible ten of Hyundai’s newest models get top safety picks, so it won’t be hard to choose a Hyundai you love. Here, however, are our favorites:
- The Hyundai Accent is a brilliant choice for a subcompact, especially since it will cost less than its more expensive Honda and Toyota counterparts, but lack none of their comforts and smart engineering.
- The Kona is part of a rapidly growing market known as the compact sports utility vehicle. In a word, it’s fun! It’s fun to drive, fun to load up and go with, and fun to look at–and easily one of the most unique and eye-catching vehicles on this list.
- The Santa Fe is a midsize SUV similar to the Nissan Rogue. It’s remained popular for some time now thanks to its low price entry point into the SUV world and it’s more than generous highway fuel efficiency.
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Ram makes fantastic trucks, and the northern provinces have warmly welcomed the very American brand for this reason. It also doesn’t hurt that Ram has a history of innovating.
Back in the late 2000s, the automaker made waves by introducing a clever rear suspension that managed to provide riders with the kind of comfort they were used to in their sedans. The suspension lack none of the power and capability consumers wanted in their trucks, and Ford, Chevy, and the rest quickly followed suit–but Ram hasn’t stopped innovating.Since Ram has a limited selection, we’re highlighting our favorite pick here:
- The Ram 1500 was completely redesigned for this year, and yes, Ram has managed to do more innovating. The entire vehicle’s weight has reduced by approximately 200 pounds, a feat considering that the V-8 engine has returned for a powerful 395 horsepower. The front seats are even more comfortable now, and there’s enough tech in the new cabin to make it feel refined. Plus, it’s one of the most affordable heavy-duty trucks you’ll find on the market.
The Buyer’s Guide
1. Fuel Efficiency
When it comes to fuel efficiency, almost all of Canada’s top vehicle makers get top billing. Vehicles are more efficient than ever, and our pocketbooks are thankful.
What you’ll need to decide, instead, is how much performance or power you want in your vehicle (generally speaking more performance equals less fuel efficiency) and whether or not you want the standard engine or one of these alternatives:
Electric vehicles have gotten a lot of lip service but have yet to take off, no doubt because of the lack of infrastructure and the still insufficient battery life. However, for people willing to make the upfront investment, electric vehicles can provide huge paybacks regarding emissions reductions and energy savings.
Hybrid vehicles can be the best of both worlds, but can also be an upfront investment while diesel cars can often get better fuel efficiency.
2. Seating Capacity
Another important factor for most people when choosing a new vehicle is seating capacity. There’s a difference between an Expedition XLT that seats eight people and a Ford Focus that seats five (just barely), but there’s a lot of space in between.
Do you need seating space that’s flexible and stows away? Do you need back seats that fold down completely? Do you need room for several car seats? Keeping seating capacity at the top of your priority list is extremely helpful when it comes to choosing a car that will suit your needs and keep you comfortable for years to come.
3. Cargo Space
When you’re shopping for a new vehicle, you should also consider cargo space. Does the vehicle you’re considering have more or less cargo space than your current vehicle? If it has less, are you comfortable losing the extra space? If it has more, are you prepared to potentially pay extra in fuel costs?
How the cargo space is situated is also very important, especially if you’re considering a subcompact vehicle, as every inch matters in those situations. Think through your potential needs (and your passengers’ needs) before making your purchase.
4. Resale Value
Canada has a thriving–and growing–used car market, so in addition to making careful decisions about fuel economy, seating capacity, and cargo space, you should also think through the resale value of the vehicle you’re considering.
You can consult online used car calculators, but a good rule of thumb is that Toyota’s and Honda’s almost always have the best resale values. Ford’s, Chevy’s, and GMC’s do fairly well when it comes to keeping their value (stick with the most popular models, however, like the trucks, SUVs, and Ford’s subcompacts), but the worst offenders by far are the Kias and Hyundais.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t purchase a Kia or Hyundais, but you should understand that your lower upfront costs might not be such a boon when it comes time to upgrade your vehicle for something newer.
It’s no secret that Hondas and Toyotas have a reputation for reliability, but the truth is, when it comes to brand new vehicles, almost every new vehicle from our top list of Canadian car brands is going to be reliable. The real test is in the warranties and in how long you plan to keep your vehicle.
While Hondas and Toyotas, for example, are more reliable, repairs are also more expensive than Ford and GMC. Anything you purchase, however, no matter the brand, will likely be reliable for the first three to five years, as long as you service it regularly. So, if you plan to sell your vehicle before then, reliability doesn’t need to sit so high on your list.
Final Thoughts On Canada’s Most Popular Car Brands
The brands we’ve listed today are by no means Canada’s only popular car brands, but they are the ones who have earned the biggest market shares, thanks to combinations of practicality, reliability, and of course fuel economy.
The model you choose is up to you, but we can unequivocally verify that Canada’s made some good choices for their top car brands. Our only question for you is which brand you’ll pick for your next car?