Unpopular: sales are up across the board in 2017, but Canada’s 30 least favourite new vehicles just can't catch a break
#30: Lincoln Navigator
— 2017 Q1 Sales: -6% to 108 — Lincoln Navigator sales will rebound, if not in the latter stages of 2017 then certainly next year. After an 11-year model run, the third-generation Lincoln Navigator’s replacement finally appeared at April’s New York International Auto Show. Full-size luxury SUV sales are booming, and now Lincoln is poised to take advantage of a market that’s currently favouring the Mercedes-Benz GLS, Cadillac Escalade, and Infiniti QX80.
#29: Jaguar XJ
— 2017 Q1 Sales: +42% to 105 — Between 2005 and 2012, Jaguar Canada averaged fewer than 180 Jaguar XJ sales per year. Over the last four years, Jaguar has averaged nearly 340 annual XJ sales. In 2017, Jaguar is on pace for more than 450. The XJ isn’t common, but it’s enjoying the benefits of positive Jaguar attention produced by the much more affordable XE sedan and F-Pace SUV.
#28: Lexus CT
— 2017 Q1 Sales: -7% to 100 — Though a much more successful entry-level luxury hybrid than the Lexus HS250h, Lexus CT200h demand has diminished greatly in old age. Lexus sold 1,640 CTs in 2012, not a big number by any stretch, but a big leap from the 1,431 HS sedans that were sold over the course of four years. The CT200h is on track for only 508 sales in 2017.
#27: Toyota Avalon
— 2017 Q1 Sales: -8% to 98 — Not unlike its large sedan competitors, the Toyota Avalon is facing a tidal wave of pro-SUV fervour that’s slowing midsize car sales and shredding large car demand. More than 1,200 Avalons were sold in 2013, but Toyota Canada is on track for barely more than 500 in 2017.
#26: MINI Countryman
— 2017 Q1 Sales: -39% to 94 — The MINI Countryman is unlikely to be a member of this list by the end of the second quarter of 2017. Recently launched in second-generation form, the transition was a slow one. Only seven Countrymans were sold in the first one-sixth of 2017.
#25: smart fortwo
— 2017 Q1 Sales: -81% to 93 — Soon to enter an even narrower niche of pure electric cars, the smart fortwo will lose its internal combustion engine with a look to the future. In the meantime, sales of the fortwo are crumbling in Canada after 2016 perked up from an all-time low in 2015. Mercedes-Benz sold more than 4,000 smarts in Canada in 2005 and more than 3,700 in 2008, but the fortwo is on track for fewer than 400 sales in 2017.
#24: Infiniti QX70
— 2017 Q1 Sales: -39% to 88 — Once the audacious and eye-catching Infiniti FX, the Infiniti QX70 is now a forgotten member of a broad Infiniti SUV lineup. There are five members, none as unpopular as the QX70, which is now in the ninth model year of its second generation.
#23: Jaguar F-Type
— 2017 Q1 Sales: -41% to 87— Almost immediately upon arriving in Canada’s upper-tier sports car market, the Jaguar F-Type was a hugely important part of the Jaguar brand’s lineup. In 2015, this two-seat sports car accounted for more than one-third of Jaguar’s sales. With a new entry-level sedan and Jaguar’s first SUV, the F-Type isn’t as essential to Jaguar. And now in its fourth model year, it’s not as in-demand with consumers, either.
#22: Audi TT
— 2017 Q1 Sales: -43% to 78 — The third-generation Audi TT was all new last year, and matching the torrid sales pace achieved in 2016 has proven impossible in early 2017. Canadian Audi TT sales rose to an eight-year high last year, but sales are down 43 percent through the first-quarter of 2017.
#21: Lexus RC
— 2017 Q1 Sales: -7% to 76 — Not unpredictably, the controversially styled, moderately sporty Lexus RC got off to a decently hot start but has slowed dramatically ever since. In the RC’s first full year, 792 coupes were sold. That figure fell by a third last year and will be, at the current pace, 38 percent below 2015’s pace in 2017.
#20: Cadillac CT6
— 2017 Q1 Sales: 72 — Cadillac’s new flagship sedan arrived nearly one year ago and has produced 322 sales so far. Confusingly named — Cadillac has a slightly smaller sedan called the CTS — the CT6 is also positioned uniquely. Almost sized to go up against full-size luxury flagships like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7-Series, the CT6 competes in a much lower price bracket.
#19: Volvo S90
— 2017 Q1 Sales: 71 — Launched in late 2016, the Volvo S90 is Volvo’s all-new, long-awaited, replacement for the chronically unpopular S80. From the get-go, there was little expectation that the S90 would be an outright hit. The market is moving away from cars, and Volvo didn’t have a strong history to fall back on in this segment. That said, the 71 S90s sold in the first-quarter of 2017 compares with an S80 that hadn’t generated that much sales activity in a full calendar year since 2012.
#18: BMW 6-Series
— 2017 Q1 Sales: -44% to 65 — Priced alongside the BMW 7-Series luxury limo, the BMW 6-Series is available as a coupe, convertible, and a sedan. But BMW is on track to sell fewer than 260 copies of the 6-Series in 2017 after five consecutive years above the 400-unit mark.
#17: Maserati Ghibli
— 2017 Q1 Sales: +8% to 56 — Let’s not kid ourselves: you don’t expect a Maserati, even the most mainstream of Maseratis, to be a common car. Yet the Maserati Ghibli was a catalyst for driving Maserati closer to the fringes of the luxury mainstream. And with the foundation laid by the Ghibli, Maserati’s first SUV, the Levante, has helped propel Maserati to a 342-percent year-over-year improvement through 2017’s first-quarter.
#16: Porsche 718 Cayman
— 2017 Q1 Sales: -15% to 51 — A partner of the Porsche 718 Boxster, the new four-cylinder-only Porsche 718 Cayman has seen its volume slide in early 2017 following a record annual result in 2016. Cayman sales have increased in each of the last four years.
#15: Audi A8
— 2017 Q1 Sales: +22% to 45 — In a segment ruled entirely by the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the BMW 7-Series is the closest challenger. Big sedans such as the Jaguar XJ and Lexus LS, along with this Audi A8, play largely insignificant roles. Sales of the A8 fell to a five-year low in 2016 but are on track to rise to a three-year high in 2017.
#14: Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class
— 2017 Q1 Sales: -48% to 44 — Previously the Mercedes-Benz SLK, a compact roadster that helped to launch a modern wave of retractable hardtop convertibles, this car is now the Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class. Through the first three months of 2017, sales are down by half compared to the same period in 2016.
#13: Porsche Panamera
— 2017 Q1 Sales: -20% to 33 — Launched in all-new second-gen form just in the early part of this year, Porsche Panamera sales are likely to rebound significantly over the course of 2017’s remaining three-quarters. Indeed, March 2017’s 25-percent rise to 25 sales was the first year-over-year Panamera improvement since November.
#12: Genesis G80
— 2017 Q1 Sales: 32 — Ever so slightly more common than its Genesis G90 big brother, the Genesis G80’s figures are nevertheless far lower than what Hyundai used to achieve with this car when it was known as the Hyundai Genesis. The Genesis brand, however, is operating with an all-new strategy, a strategy that currently involves no traditional dealers. It’s an experiment, and it will take time to produce fruit.
#11: Genesis G90
— 2017 Q1 Sales: 29 — Hyundai’s replacement for the Hyundai Equus involved the kickstart of a whole new luxury brand: Genesis. The Equus is now the G90, sitting above the former Hyundai Genesis (now the Genesis G80) in Genesis’ still small portfolio. Expect a handful of SUVs, a smaller sedan, and a coupe in the next couple of years.
#10: Infiniti Q70
— 2017 Q1 Sales: -65% to 26 — Infiniti was once able to sell bigger sedans in measurable quantities, though it’s safe to say the Infiniti Q70’s M predecessor wasn’t a very popular car. 1,111 M sedans were sold in 2005. Infiniti will struggle to sell 111 Q70s in 2017.
#9: Lincoln MKT
— 2017 Q1 Sales: -17% to 25 — Nearing the end of its term, the Lincoln MKT is Lincoln’s upmarket alternative to its donor car, the Ford Flex. Like the more affordable and more common Flex, Canadian consumers have never truly taken a liking to the MKT, which is now in its eighth model year. Only 3,053 MKTs have found Canadian homes since its 2009 launch.
#8: Fiat 500L
— 2017 Q1 Sales: -76% to 22 — Largely ignored before the Fiat 500X arrived, the Fiat 500L is now rejected even more soundly. Fiat reported nearly 2,500 500L sales in Canada in 2014 but is on pace for fewer than 100 in 2017.
#7: Porsche 718 Boxster
— 2017 Q1 Sales: -53% to 21 — Essentially the convertible version of the slightly more popular Porsche Cayman — or perhaps it’s the other way around — the Porsche Boxster is now known as the 718 Boxster, and it’s a four-cylinder car. Sales have been chopped in half so far this year. Keep in mind, competitors combine sales of hardtops and convertibles. In that manner, the Boxster and Cayman combined for 72 sales in 2017’s first-quarter.
T5: Mitsubishi i MiEV
— 2017 Q1 Sales: -14% to 19 — In an age where somewhat affordable all-electric cars can produce more than 300 kilometres of range, the Mitsubishi i MiEV is a butter knife at an M16 gun battle. 100 kilometres of range in an odd-looking, overpriced electric car is far outside the Canadian mainstream.
T5: Kia Cadenza
— 2017 Q1 Sales: -56% to 19 — The Kia Cadenza enjoyed a refresh for the 2017 model year, but it’s unlikely to alter the way in which Canadians view big, volume brand sedans, especially those cars they’ve never heard of. Kia’s next strategy in the entry-luxury spectrum is entirely different. The Kia Stinger is a rear-wheel drive sports sedan aimed at the BMW 3-Series.
#4: Lexus LS
— 2017 Q1 Sales: -42% to 18 — Toyota Canada has historically struggled to sell its flagship luxury sedan, the Lexus LS, but perhaps that’s about to change. The fifth-generation 2018 Lexus LS is lower and leaner and more athletic, and if Lexus could combine the LS’s peerless reputation for reliability and comfort with greater driver’s appeal, perhaps the LS could finally challenge the BMW 7-Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class in Canada.
#3: Acura RLX
— 2017 Q1 Sales: -52% to 16 — Honda’s upmarket brand recently unveiled a restyled Acura TLX at the New York International Auto Show. But Acura’s flagship sedan continues as is, almost entirely ignored by the Canadian car-buying populace. Acura is on pace for only 52 RLX sales in 2017.
#2: Alfa Romeo 4C
— 2017 Q1 Sales: -75% to 5 — Alfa Romeo finally has a car that can create some, at least some, Canadian volume. But it’s not the Alfa Romeo 4C. Finally, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Canadian outpost has the Alfa Romeo Giulia to sell, and more Giulias were sold in its first full months (22) than there’ve been 4Cs sold in the last seven months.
#1: Kia K900
— 2017 Q1 Sales: -50% to 3 — The Korean luxury game has moved to another playing field. Hyundai’s former K900 partner, the Hyundai Equus, now operates in a new luxury brand, Genesis, as the G90. But the Kia K900 continues as a largely unknown entity from a budget brand, generating a statistically meaningless number of Canadian sales. Only 88 K900s have been sold in the last three years.
Canadian sales of new vehicles are higher than ever before. After a record calendar year in 2016, the first quarter of 2017 is 5 percent ahead of last year’s pace.
But only 30 vehicles account for the overwhelming majority of new vehicles sold. And at the opposite end of the ledger are the 30 least popular new vehicles in Canada.
Sometimes poor demand limits a vehicle’s popularity. A lack of incentives, limited production, the transition to a re-engineered model: all of this can play a factor. Some vehicles are intended to be uncommon—it’s part of their appeal.
Regardless of the reasons, these were the 30 lowest-volume new vehicles in Canada through 2017’s first three months.
Excluded are vehicles from Ferrari, Rolls-Royce, and Lamborghini, among others, which don’t report new vehicle sales by model. We also exclude formally discontinued models and vehicles with base prices above $100,000, which have no chance to be common vehicles in Canada. Finally, only vehicles which were on sale by the beginning of the year are eligible.