You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Driving by Numbers: Canada's 10 best-selling vehicles so far in 2020

Driving.ca logo Driving.ca 2020-10-14 Timothy Cain
a car parked in front of a building: 2020 Chevrolet Silverado diesel © Provided by Driving.ca 2020 Chevrolet Silverado diesel

The phrase “best seller” in 2020 doesn’t mean what it used to. It’s sort of like saying “best prisons” or “best lineups.” Sure, there are lineups worth standing in, and sure, there are prisons that surely make better residences than others. But “best”? Best?

Research

In an auto industry that lost nearly one-quarter of its volume, year-over-year, through the first nine months of the year, “best sellers” don’t form the most illustrious group.

More common than other vehicles they most definitely are, but each and every one of Canada’s 10 best-selling vehicles is attracting fewer buyers through 2020’s first three-quarters than they did during the same period in 2019. In fact, each of Canada’s 16 best-selling vehicles are on the decline.

Yet in an industry that’s off last year’s pace by a staggering 26 per cent – a drop largely brought on by the second-quarter’s 33-per-cent decline – the five best-selling vehicles are all easily outperforming the Canadian market.

2020 nevertheless remains a tumultuous year for the Canadian auto industry. Only two of Canada’s 10 best-selling vehicles are passenger cars, sales of which dropped by a distressing 155,000 units over the last nine months. While sales of pickup trucks were actually stronger in 2020’s third quarter than during the July-September period of 2019, cars barely accounted for just one out of every five new vehicles sold.

The lingering effects of COVID-19’s shutdown and the ensuing economic pains are likely to pass before Canada’s car market stabilizes itself. For now, however, two famous car nameplates persist as members of Canada’s 10 best-selling vehicles along with four pickup trucks, three small utility vehicles, and one subcompact crossover.

10. Nissan Rogue: 18,410, down 38 percent

a car parked on the side of a road

Three years removed from its record high annual volume, the Nissan Rogue is tracking towards its worst year of Canadian sales since 2013. It’s not terribly surprising for a few reasons.

First, Nissan has fallen on hard times. Second, there’s a pandemic, haven’t you heard? And third, the new Rogue is just around the corner. That 2021 Rogue has the weight of the world on its shoulders. Its mission: restore Nissan’s North American fortunes.

9. Hyundai Kona: 19,614, down 0.2 percent

a car parked on a dirt road

Ranked 16th among top sellers in Canada at this stage of 2019, Canada’s leading subcompact crossover surged into the top 10 in 2020 thanks to a steadier-than-average performance.

First-quarter volume slipped 23 per cent, second-quarter volume tumbled 32 per cent, but the Hyundai Kona’s third-quarter recovery was striking. Sales jumped 56 per cent to more than 10,000 units. The Kona is outselling its top direct competitor, the Subaru Crosstrek, by nearly two-to-one, and has supplanted the Elantra as Hyundai’s major player.

8. Toyota Corolla: 25,879, down 31 percent

a car parked on the side of a building

Draw a Venn diagram that shows buyers who prioritize reliability to the fullest and buyers who still want a car. Where do the circles overlap? On top of the Toyota Corolla, a car that, incidentally, is now better to drive than it’s been in generations. The latest Corolla has unfortunately run directly into powerful headwinds: a pandemic that’s delivering even more strength to Canada’s anti-car fervour.

7. Honda CR-V: 32,481, down 25 percent

a car parked on a city street

Honda Canada takes very seriously the Civic’s crown as Canada’s best-selling car. In terms of the CR-V, however, competing for No. 1 among SUVs is a fight put off for another day.

Toyota Canada is launching a plug-in hybrid version of the RAV4 to go along with the regular hybrid, a competitor for which exists in Honda’s U.S. CR-V lineup. Just not here in Canada. (There are three-row CR-Vs in some markets, too.) In Q3, the RAV4 opened up a big lead on the CR-V thanks to a 20-per-cent uptick that coincided with a seven-per-cent year-over-year CR-V downturn.

6. Honda Civic: 33,028, down 33 percent

a car parked on the side of a road

In 2008, the Honda Civic was No. 1 on this list of Canada’s best-selling vehicles. The pickup takeover pushed the Civic down into the No. 2 slot in 2009 and then the No. 3 position in 2010. In fact, the Civic hung onto the bronze medal position as recently as last year.

Strong truck demand, weakening car demand, and an aging Civic (2020 was the 10th-gen Civic’s fifth model year) have conspired to push the Civic out of the top five. The Civic will still end 2020 as Canada’s best-selling car for a 23rd consecutive year.

5. Chevrolet Silverado: 38,085, down 9 percent

a truck driving down a dirt road © Provided by Driving.ca

After a relatively modest first-half slowdown, a third-quarter surge in pickup truck sales is setting the stage for a possible 400,000-plus sales year for pickup trucks in Canada. General Motors’ truck twins, the Silverado and its GMC Sierra partner, account for 27 per cent of the overall pickup market this year, up just a point from last year.

The bigger story is the Silverado’s increasing importance at a struggling Chevrolet brand. In 2019’s first nine months, 37 per cent of Bowtie sales stemmed from the Silverado — now it’s 47 per cent.

4. GMC Sierra: 39,260, down 6 percent

a car parked in front of a large rock

With one-quarter of all Canadian auto sales now taking place because of pickup trucks, demand isn’t the issue. Supply constraints are the most challenging aspect of truck-selling as automakers head into the unknown of 2020’s fourth-quarter.

The GMC Sierra was one of the segment’s biggest overperformers through the first nine months of 2020, very nearly matching the truck’s sales pace from pre-pandemic 2019. The Sierra’s average monthly decline has been just 302 units.

3. Toyota RAV4: 41,610, down 16 percent

a car parked in a parking lot

Though No. 3 overall, the Toyota RAV4 is far and away Canada’s No. 1 SUV/crossover. Thanks to a third quarter in which RAV4 volume shot up 20 per cent, the RAV4 is outselling its nearest rival by 28 per cent. (At this stage of 2019, the margin was just 14 per cent.) The RAV4 is now outselling the entire Toyota passenger car division and outsells Toyota’s five other SUVs/crossovers by more than two-to-one.

2. Ram P/U: 63,237, down 16 percent

a police car parked in a parking lot

FCA’s Ram truck line reported record annual volume of 96,763 units in 2019. Even in a conventional year, matching that performance was bound to be a remarkable challenge. COVID-19 clearly threw a wrench into Ram’s plans. Ram’s share of Canada’s full-size truck market slipped marginally to 25 per cent in 2020’s first nine months.

1. Ford F-Series: 104,891, down 10 percent

a man riding on the back of a truck

The Ford F-Series’ position atop Canada’s truck leaderboard is impressive, to say the least. The F-Series outsells 10 trucks combined: Ram, Gladiator, Ranger, Colorado, Canyon, Ridgeline, Titan, Frontier, Tacoma, and Tundra.

But the state of Canada’s overall industry may be better summed up by the way in which the F-Series (which incorporates the F-150 and Super Duty trucks, similar to how GM and Ram report truck sales) exerts control over the entire market. In 2009, when the F-Series began its streak as Canada’s best-selling vehicle line, the big Ford produced 5.6 per cent of all new vehicle sales. That figure now stands at 9.1 per cent, nearly one out of every 10 vehicles sold in Canada.

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from driving.ca

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon