Canada is bigger than the U.S.; the distances are equally vast; and there’s way more land area per person. And yet Canadians tend to buy smaller cars.
Why is this? The simple answer, at least from the south side of the border, is that Canadians are less ostentatious. They typically spend about 15 percent less on new vehicles; and while that’s definitely not because they’re worse off (the median Canadian household income, adjusted for currency, is higher than in the U.S.), it’s certain that Canadian shoppers tend to choose somewhat smaller, more modestly equipped vehicles.
In Canada, the best-selling models are also full-size pickups; yet if you look past those, the Honda Civic, Ford Escape, Dodge Grand Caravan, Hyundai Elantra, Toyota Corolla, Mazda 3, Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Chevrolet Cruze, and Volkswagen Jetta are the top-ten best-sellers.
In the U.S., those same spots are occupied by the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Toyota Corolla, Nissan Altima, Honda CR-V, Honda Civic, Ford Fusion, Ford Escape, Chevrolet Cruze, and Toyota RAV4. Several of those are a full size class larger.
Look further—into the top 20 or 25 nameplates in Canada—and the surprising thing isn’t so much the models that are there but the models that are missing: many of the larger family models that U.S. buyers choose, like the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ford Explorer.
And somewhat ‘spendier’ green cars, like the Toyota Prius, which has long been one of the best-selling nameplates in California, are surprisingly slow-sellers in Canada, relative to market and segment totals.
That’s why, for decades, automakers have supplemented their lineups with a few more models that are smaller and more affordable. With more of these models, like the Chevrolet Trax, entering the U.S. market, there are fewer exclusive models than there used to be; yet we’ve rounded up some that still remain only sold (or sold with a completely different badge) in Canada.
Click on to see four 2015-model-year vehicles you can only get north of the border.
2015 Nissan Micra [Canadian-spec]
Nissan doesn’t sell the Micra as a particularly hip, urban device in Canada; instead it’s an extremely affordable five-door hatchback in the cost-conscious small-car tradition, made in Mexico and sharing its platform with the Versa Note hatchback (albeit about a foot shorter). With the base model you’ll forgo air conditioning and things like power windows, but isn’t it a steal at a base price of around 10,000 Canadian dollars ($8,000)?
2015 Mercedes-Benz B-Class [Canadian-spec]
We in the U.S. can only get the B-Class as the B-Class Electric Drive. Yet in Canada, the B-Class comes as either the front-wheel-drive B250 or all-wheel-drive B250 4Matic, both featuring a fuel-efficient 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, making 208 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. That’s the same engine in the CLA250 and GLA250, by the way; and yes, you might notice that the GLA has a somewhat more stylish and SUV-like roofline and profile, standing just different enough from the B-Class’s more space-maximizing design.
2015 Mitsubishi RVR GT [Canadian-spec]
The Mitsubishi RVR is essentially the same vehicle as what’s sold in the U.S. as the Outlander Sport, although equipment configured in a way that better fits the region. For instance, the base RVR ES gets steel wheels while the base Outlander ES has larger alloys, and the base RVR includes heated seats while they’re not offered on the cheapest Outlander.
2015 Kia Rondo [Canadian-spec]
Kia used to sell the Rondo in the U.S., from 2007-2009, in its previous generation, and at least at that time the Rondo didn’t do very well in sales. Today we think it would do far better—as a lower, tall-wagon alternative to the Sportage and a counterpoint to the boxy Soul—yet sadly Kia has no plans to try it again. It remains one of the most compact models for sale in North America to offer third-row seating—for up to seven.