“Import” doesn’t mean what it used to, but these are still Canada’s 25 most popular autos built outside North America in 2017
#25: Toyota Yaris Hatchback
– July 2017 YTD Sales: -10% to 3,624 – Imported from France, the Toyota Yaris Hatchback isn’t the only Yaris operating in Canada. Based on the newer Mazda 2 (not the 2 that was sold in Canada), the Toyota Yaris sedan comes from Mexico. But the hatched Yaris accounts for 93 percent of the nameplate’s year-to-date volume in Canada.
#24: Mitsubishi Lancer
– July 2017 YTD Sales: -14% to 3,626 – Set to end its course next year, the Mitsubishi Lancer will leave the fight for passenger car sales to the lone Mirage, a three-cylinder, Thai-built city car with limited appeal. Mitsubishi will then become an SUV-centric brand, a far cry from the days when the Diamante, Galant, and Eclipse joined the Lancer in building the Mitsubishi brand in Canada.
#23: Hyundai Santa Fe XL
– July 2017 YTD Sales: -31% to 3,742 – Part of a Santa Fe lineup that generates more than one-in-five Hyundai Canada sales, the three-row, V6-engined, Korean-built Hyundai Santa Fe XL will soon be replaced by a new generation. Though sales are sliding this year, the five-year run of the first-gen Santa Fe XL, a successor to the Veracruz, has been a huge success for Hyundai Canada. 26,388 Santa Fe XLs have been sold to date. 9,427 Veracruzes were sold between 2007 and 2013.
#22: Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
– July 2017 YTD Sales: +9% to 3,811 – Take away the RAV4 Hybrid and the Toyota RAV4, Canada’s top-selling utility vehicle in 2016, would not be Canada’s best-selling utility vehicle in 2017’s first seven months of 2017. But with the RAV4 Hybrid contributing 13 percent of total RAV4 volume, the RAV4 family is on track to end 2017 as Canada’s best-selling utility vehicle for a second consecutive year.
#21: Mitsubishi RVR
– July 2017 YTD Sales: +126% to 4,085 – While total sales of the Mitsubishi RVR are up 18 percent so far this year, sales of imported RVRs are up 126 percent as Mitsubishi ended U.S. production of its vehicles last year. With imports doing all the work, the RVR just misses out on being Mitsubishi Canada’s best-selling model, claiming 58 fewer sales than the Outlander in 2017’s first seven months.
#20: Lexus NX
– July 2017 YTD Sales: +23% to 4,089 – An instant success from the time it arrived for the 2015 model year, the Lexus NX now accounts for nearly three out of every ten Lexus sales in Canada, outselling the entire Lexus passenger car division. Only the RX, Lexus’ bigger and more costly crossover, outsells the NX in Lexus’ lineup.
#19: Mitsubishi Outlander
– July 2017 YTD Sales: +19% to 4,143 – With every sale of every Mitsubishi now coming from an imported model – North American production ceased last year – the best-selling imported Mitsubishi is the best-selling Mitsubishi overall. That title currently belongs to the Mitsubishi Outlander, sales of which rose 19 percent so far this year.
#18: Audi A4
– July 2017 YTD Sales: +38% to 4,414 – The Audi A4 is Canada’s third-ranked premium brand car and the second-most-popular Audi in Canada. Sales of the A4 are surging despite the general trend away from traditional sedans. In fact, its two more popular rivals, the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, are also on the rise, though the C-Class is built inside the NAFTA zone at Mercedes-Benz’s Alabama assembly plant.
#17: BMW 3 Series
– July 2017 YTD Sales: +15% to 4,457 – Thanks to a 15-percent year-over-year sales improvement after plunging volume in 2017, the BMW 3 Series has reasserted its position as Canada’s favourite BMW. The 3 Series now accounts for 20 percent of BMW Canada’s volume, up from 18 percent at this time a year ago.
#16: Toyota 4Runner
– July 2017 YTD Sales: +17% to 4,475 – A decade ago, Toyota sold 725 copies of the 4Runner in Canada. In the entire 2008 calendar year. Toyota now sells nearly that many copies of the 4Runner every month, and sales are still rising. 2017 is projected to be the 4Runner’s sixth consecutive year of growth.
#15: Subaru Crosstrek
– July 2017 YTD Sales: -13% to 4,646 – Launching in the second-half of 2017 in new, second-gen, 2018 form, the Subaru Crosstrek will almost undoubtedly undo 2017’s early slide with dramatically improved demand. Subaru sold more than 6,000 Crosstreks in its first full year of 2013, which was considered a proper success. Subaru will likely sell more than 10,000 Crosstreks in Canada in 2018.
#14: Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class
– July 2017 YTD Sales: +105% to 4,713 – The successor to the Mercedes-Benz GLK, the Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class is quickly turning into a big hit for Mercedes-Benz Canada. Mercedes-Benz never sold more than 6,000 GLKs in a single year, but the GLC is on track for more than 8,000 sales in 2017. It’s now Mercedes-Benz’s best-selling SUV/crossover, ahead of the U.S.-built GLE.
#13: Buick Encore
– July 2017 YTD Sales: +64% to 4,960 – Gussy up a Chevrolet Trax and charge a modest amount of extra coin. Then sit back and watch the buyers appear. It’s not surprising in this era that the result, the Buick Encore, has been a hit, but the degree to which it’s been a success has been startling. The Encore is also outselling the Trax by 1,335 sales so far this year. The Encore is built in South Korea; the Trax is assembled in Mexico.
#12: Volkswagen Tiguan
– July 2017 YTD Sales: -21% to 5,358 – Replaced late this summer by an all-new, second-generation Volkswagen Tiguan, the first-generation Tiguan will hang around in “Limited” trim at a cut-rate price. As the transition neared, Tiguan sales dropped sharply, but the larger Volkswagen Atlas’s ability to quickly take hold in the Canadian market bodes well for the newly enlarged Tiguan.
#11: Audi Q5
– July 2017 YTD Sales: +24% to 5,668 – Challenged most closely by the Canadian-built Lexus RX, the new Audi Q5 stands as Canada’s top-selling premium brand utility vehicle. 2017 is projected to be the Q5’s eighth consecutive year of growth.
#10: Mazda CX-3
– July 2017 YTD Sales: +4% to 5,800 – Canada’s second-best-selling subcompact crossover, the increasingly popular Mazda CX-3 is nevertheless a far cry from the significantly more popular Honda HR-V. But the CX-3 is successfully filling the void left by the departed Mazda 2, which at its peak generated 9,020 Canadian sales but averaged fewer than 4,000 in the three years following. Mazda is on track to sell nearly 10,000 CX-3s in 2017.
#9: Honda Civic Hatchback
– July 2017 YTD Sales: 6,184 – When the overarching Honda Civic lineup ends 2017 as Canada’s best-selling car for a 20th consecutive year, it will do so with no small amount of assistance from the British-built Civic Hatchback. The hatch now accounts for 14 percent of Canadian Civic sales, the sedan and coupe bring in the remaining 86 percent of buyers.
#8: Kia Soul
– July 2017 YTD Sales: -7% to 6,489 – After peaking at 13,335 Canadian sales in 2015, Canadian sales of the Kia Soul dipped somewhat in 2016 and are sliding further in 2017. By no means an unpopular car – the Soul generates 15 percent of Kia’s Canadian volume – the Soul is losing some of its sway in the market, perhaps because numerous similar-sized, similarly-priced competitors offer all-wheel-drive. The Soul does not.
#7: Kia Sportage
– July 2017 YTD Sales: +28% to 8,104 – For too long a second-class citizen in a Kia crossover lineup that favoured the Sorento, the Kia Sportage now has room to move because of the Sorento’s size and price. Kia is on track to sell nearly 15,000 in 2017, more than double the total from just two years ago.
#6: Subaru Forester
– July 2017 YTD Sales: +10% to 8,350 – Subaru Canada now generates the bulk of its Impreza sales with U.S.-built models. The Outback and Legacy are U.S.-built Subarus, as well. But the best-selling member of the brand in Canada, the Subaru Forester, still hails from Japan. 2017 is on track to be the Forester’s best year ever. Volume has more than doubled since 2012.
#5: Hyundai Accent
– July 2017 YTD Sales: -32% to 8,407 – Canada’s top-selling subcompact is entering a replacement phase that should see the Hyundai Accent easily continue its reign as Canada’s favourite subcompact car. But Accent sales are plunging along with its segment, where demand is shrinking with more refined, similarly efficient, similarly costly compacts such as Hyundai’s own Elantra generally being viewed as superior value propositions.
#4: Mazda 3
– July 2017 YTD Sales: +493% to 11,176 – No longer sourcing the bulk of its Canadian volume from Mexico, the Japan-sourced Mazda 3 is Canada’s fourth-ranked import car and the fifth-best-selling car in Canada. Total Mazda 3 sales are up 3 percent to 16,941 units in 2017.
#3: Mazda CX-5
– July 2017 YTD Sales: +3% to 14,139 – Consistent Mazda CX-5 sales growth will result in 2017 ending as the model’s fifth consecutive year of growth. Thoroughly revamped for the 2017 model year, the CX-5’s skin nevertheless looks too similar. Dangerously so? It doesn’t appear to be, with CX-5 growth resulting in a July with 2,072 sales, the fourth consecutive month above 2,000 units.
#2: Hyundai Tucson
– July 2017 YTD Sales: +15% to 18,292 – Hyundai Canada is on track to sell more than 27,000 copies of the Hyundai Tucson in 2017, a massive leap from the 13,000-unit average the Tucson achieved between 2010 and 2014. If the Tucson’s Korean assembly plant could only build more Tucsons, Hyundai would likely be selling more, both in the U.S. and Canada.
#1: Hyundai Elantra
– July 2017 YTD Sales: +8% to 22,321 – Canada’s second-best-selling car for six years, the Hyundai Elantra has fallen into third place as total Elantra volume declines and the new No. 2, Toyota’s Corolla, climbs. While imported Elantra volume is up 8 percent this year, total sales of the Elantra are down 9 percent to 28,298 units, 4,229 sales back of the Toyota.
Long gone is the time when an “import” automobile was any vehicle that wasn’t a General Motors, Ford, or Chrysler product. Many GM, FCA, and Ford Motor Company vehicles are now built outside the North American Free Trade zone. Moreover, many European-badged and Asian-badged vehicles are built in North America, including a number of vehicles built right here in Canada.
In total, according to the Automotive News Data Center, 24 percent of the new vehicles sold in Canada in the first seven months of 2017 were built outside the NAFTA zone. Their sales are rising faster than North American-built vehicles, as well, with total import auto sales rising 9 percent to nearly 290,000 units so far this year.
These are the 25 top sellers, but keep in mind, in many cases they do not represent the entire nameplate’s volume. For example, most Honda Civics sold in Canada are sedans and coupes built in Canada, rather than hatchbacks imported from England.