J.D. Power’s Vehicle Dependability Study compiles “owner-reported problems during the past 12 months by original owners of three-year-old vehicles.” J.D. Power then ranks brands while also releasing a winner in 19 different vehicle categories, covered here in this gallery. Are these the vehicles Canadians buy? Of course, they all generate a measure of sales activity, but most are not sales leaders in their respective classes in Canada.
J.D. Power’s most reliable vehicles aren’t always top picks for Canadian consumers
Buick Encore – Small SUV
Buick LaCrosse - Large Car
Buick Verano – Compact Car
Chevrolet Camaro - Midsize Sporty Car
Chevrolet Equinox – Compact SUV
Chevrolet Malibu - Midsize Car
Chevrolet Silverado HD – Large Heavy-Duty Pickup
Fiat 500 – City Car
GMC Yukon - Large SUV
Honda Fit – Small Car
Lexus ES – Compact Premium Car
Lexus GS – Midsize Premium Car
Lexus GX – Midsize Premium SUV
Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class – Compact Premium SUV
MINI Cooper Coupe/Roadster – Compact Sporty Car
Nissan Murano – Midsize SUV
Toyota Prius V – Compact Multi-Purpose Vehicle
Toyota Sienna - Minivan
Toyota Tundra – Large Light-Duty Pickup
Lexus - #1 Brand
Porsche - #2 Brand
Buick - #3 Brand
Toyota - #4 Brand
GMC - #5 Brand
- Buick Encore –...
- Buick LaCrosse -...
- Buick Verano –...
- Chevrolet Camaro...
- Chevrolet Equinox...
- Chevrolet Malibu...
- Fiat 500 – City Car
- GMC Yukon - Large...
- Honda Fit – Small...
- Lexus ES –...
- Lexus GS –...
- Lexus GX –...
- MINI Cooper...
- Nissan Murano –...
- Toyota Prius V –...
- Toyota Sienna -...
- Toyota Tundra –...
- Lexus - #1 Brand
- Porsche - #2 Brand
- Buick - #3 Brand
- Toyota - #4 Brand
- GMC - #5 Brand
In the booming Canadian subcompact crossover market, sales of the Buick Encore tumbled 14% to 4,915 units in 2015 as new competitors arrived in large numbers. The Honda HR-V, Subaru Crosstrek, Mazda CX-3, Mitsubishi RVR, and the Encore’s own Chevrolet Trax twin were all more popular. As Buick prepares a refreshed Encore for model year 2017, sales of the Encore are down 21% through 2016’s first two months.
In 2015, Canadian sales of the Buick LaCrosse and its volume brand flagship sedan cohorts increased by a modest 1%. But the LaCrosse, nearing the end of its current generation’s lifespan, tumbled 36%, the sharpest loss in the category. Only 990 LaCrosses were sold in Canada in 2015, the seventh year of decline in the last decade.
Perched at the premium end of Canada’s mainstream compact car market, the Buick Verano is inevitably not as popular as its Chevrolet Cruze corporate cousin. Verano sales, in fact, fell 11% to 6,360 in 2015 after peaking at 7,161 units in 2014. The compact market is up 3% in Canada through 2016’s first two months. The Verano is up 23% to 571 units, well back of relatively uncommon compact cars such as the Mitsubishi Lancer and Subaru Impreza.
The sixth-generation Chevrolet Camaro is just now taking hold at dealers across Canada, ready for the prime muscle car buying season this spring. But while the fifth-generation Camaro led all sporty cars on a routine basis in America, the Canadian-built Camaro wasn’t a sales leader in Canada. In 2015, for instance, Camaro volume fell 7% to 2,668 units as Ford sold nearly 7,000 Mustangs.
As U.S. sales of the Chevrolet Equinox exploded to record levels in 2015, Canadian sales of the aging model increased only 1% to 19,766 units, down 12% from its peak in 2011. Canadian SUV/crossover sales are surging – more utilities are now being sold than cars – but the Equinox lost market share as the sector grew by more than 12% last year. Nine utility vehicles sold more often than the Equinox in Canada in 2015.
The eighth-generation Chevrolet Malibu highlighted in J.D. Power’s midsize rankings was a flop in the marketplace, so GM quickly prepared an early launch of the new ninth-generation Malibu, arriving at dealers now. In Canada, Malibu volume in 2015 improved to 9,203 units after three disastrous years – that was still just half what GM Canada managed in 2006 – and the Malibu ranked sixth in its category. Toyota led the way with more than 16,000 Camry sales.
J.D. Power breaks the pickup truck sector into two categories, and the regular “light duty” segment was won by the Toyota Tundra. Unfortunately, GM doesn’t break down sales figures for the Chevrolet Silverado by regular 1500 light duty trucks and the 2500/3500 heavy duty models. We do know, however, that the Silverado and its GMC Sierra twin own 26.3% of the Canadian full-size truck market in 2016’s first two months, down slightly from 27.2% a year ago.
Initially, the Fiat 500 was a hit. Canadians drove away from participating Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep/Ram dealers in 8,474 Fiat 500s in 2012, the model’s first full year on sale. But 500 sales cratered in 2013, falling 20%. Fewer than 3,000 were sold in 2015. In 2016’s first two months, it’s Canada’s 187th-best-selling vehicle, down from the 52nd spot in 2012.
Among the 10,587 full-size volume-brand body-on-frame SUVs sold in Canada in 2015, two-thirds were GM products. Of those 7,008 sales, 1,711 were earned by the GMC Yukon (down 15% year-over-year) while the category was led by 2,364 Chevrolet Tahoe sales. The Tahoe is an identical twin of the Yukon, though the Yukon can be outfitted with more luxury trim in the Denali series, plus GM’s 6.2L V8, unavailable in the Tahoe.
Canadian sales of subcompact cars plunged 25% in 2015 as nearly every model in the category – including the fourth-ranked Honda Fit – lost thousands of sales. Fit volume fell 23% to 9,088 units, less than half the total achieved by the Hyundai Accent, which would have ranked higher in J.D. Power’s results if not for a below-average “Body And Interior Dependability” score.
Though decidedly not compact, the Lexus ES does compete at the entry-level end of Canada’s luxury sector. Though not a hugely popular product in Canada, in the U.S. – where auto sales are nine times stronger – ES sales are 28 times stronger. Canadian volume fell 15% to 2,305 units in 2015, nearly 8,000 sales behind the top-selling luxury car, Mercedes-Benz’s C-Class.
Even with a 23% increase in Canadian sales during the first two months of 2016, the Lexus GS remains a very rare car in a segment controlled by the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. In fact, the BMW 5-Series, Hyundai Genesis, Cadillac CTS, and Audi A6 all sold at least 40% more often than the GS in January and February. Fewer than 2% of the Lexus vehicles sold in Canada in 2015 were GS sedans.
Undeniably rare, Lexus’ body-on-frame GX SUV recorded in 2015 a third consecutive year of growth and its best year of sales since 2005. Nearly every utility vehicle in Canada sold more often than the GX, however, from rare nameplates such as the BMW X4 to direct GX competitors such as the Land Rover LR4. For every GX sold in Canada in 2015, Lexus also sold 11 copies of its RX, the most popular vehicle in the company’s lineup.
Since renamed as the GLC for second-generation work, the Mercedes-Benz GLK first went on sale in 2009 and was by 2013 an established member of the small luxury SUV class. Year after year, GLK sales hovered above 5,000 units and below 6,000, strong enough volume to rank the GLK among the class leaders. Only the Audi Q5, Acura RDX, and Lexus NX outsold the GLK in 2015. GLC/GLK volume is up 4% to 521 units in early 2016, fifth in its category.
The now discontinued Mini Coupe and Roadster versions of the MINI Cooper never saw their Canadian sales figures isolated from the Cooper range overall. In 2013, they accounted for just 6% of MINI’s Cooper volume, a figure which would translate to approximately 240 Canadian sales that year. The MINI brand reported record Canadian sales in 2015 as niche models like the Coupe and Roadster made way for more mainstream hatchbacks, such as the 5-door and Clubman.
Canadian sales of the second-generation Nissan Murano – the one ranked highly by J.D. Power – plunged to only 3,384 units in 2013, the year in which vehicles in this study were new. But since then, Nissan Canada released a new Murano, and sales reached a record high of 10,128 units in 2015. Through 2016’s first two months, the Murano ranks 15th among SUVs and crossovers in Canada. Only a handful of the 14 more popular utilities are, like the Murano, not compact SUVs/CUVs.
The Toyota Prius V was the victor in J.D. Power’s “compact multi-purpose vehicle” class. The Kia Soul received high marks in the category, as well. The Prius V is a very rare car in Canada. More than 140 different nameplates generated more sales in 2016’s first two months, a period in which Prius V volume fell 40% to 243 units. The Prius V does outsell the original Prius liftback, however. In 2015, Canadian sales of the Prius V were 873 units stronger. As for the Soul – which is by no means a direct rival for the hybrid Prius V wagon – it’s five times more popular.
As Canadian minivan volume plunged 18% in the first two months of 2016, the Toyota Sienna trended in the opposite direction, surging 16% to 2,110 units, a distant second in the Canadian people carrier race. Don’t try convincing Toyota Canada that the minivan market is dying. Sienna sales in 2015 rose to an 11-year high.
Toyota builds Canada’s best-selling midsize car (Camry), as well as the third-best-selling car overall (Corolla), the top-selling utility vehicle (RAV4), the second-best-selling minivan (Sienna), and the best-selling midsize pickup truck (Tacoma). The full-size truck arena is a different thing altogether, as the Toyota Tundra has claimed just 3.5% of Canada’s full-size pickup truck sales so far this year, reliability victories from J.D. Power deemed scarcely consequential.
Among auto brands, no marque reported a better PP100 score (problems per 100 vehicles) than Lexus, making 2016 the fifth consecutive year Lexus has topped all other brands. Two Lexus sedans and one Lexus SUV also led their categories. The Lexus RX, the most popular Lexus in Canada, received an honourable mention in the class won by its GX sibling. Lexus set a Canadian sales record in 2015, rising 25% to 22,025 sales, but trailed Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Audi on the overall premium brand sales leaderboard.
With 97 PP100, Volkswagen-owned Porsche trailed Lexus by just two problems per 100 vehicles. Porsche remains a low-volume brand in Canada, but the strength of the company’s two SUVs powered Porsche to record Canadian sales in 2015, with more than double the volume Porsche managed just three years prior. In 2016’s first two months, Porsche volume is up 20% to 555 units.
The highest-ranked “domestic” brand in Canada, J.D. Power ranked Buick third overall. Three Buicks topped their respective categories, including the brand’s two-best-selling models: Verano and Encore. Together, these two most affordable Buicks produce two-thirds of Buick’s Canadian sales. In 2015, Buick volume fell 11% to 16,594, 22nd among auto brands overall, behind Mitsubishi and Acura but ahead of Cadillac and Infiniti.
Toyota’s namesake automobile brand landed three specific vehicles at the top of their categories in J.D. Power’s 2016 rankings, not to mention three different Lexus models. With 113 problems per 100 vehicles reported, Toyota ranked fourth among brands overall. Only the Ford Motor Company’s Ford brand sells more vehicles in Canada. In 2016’s first two months, Toyota sales are up 7% to 23,337 units. The RAV4 is now Toyota Canada’s best-selling product.
One of two General Motors brands in the top five, GMC’s 120 problems per 100 vehicles is well back of Lexus’ 95 PP100, but only a few points back of reputable Toyota. The Yukon, one of two full-size GMC SUVs, led its category. GMC sales are powered largely by full-size pickup trucks, however, not an unhealthy situation given the market’s trends. In 2016’s first two months, GMC ranks ninth in total Canadian sales thanks to a 16% year-over-year jump to 10,215 sales.