While trucks, crossovers, and SUVs dominate the Canadian auto market, cars are still a popular choice among many consumers. After all, cars are often among the most affordable and most fuel-efficient vehicles on the road. Plus, they’re usually easier to drive than something bigger, like a truck or SUV.
From annual repeats on this list like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla to relative newcomers like the electric Tesla Model 3, Canadians have continued buying new cars in recent years. Even with the economic fallout of the pandemic that many people are still facing, cars are an everyday necessity .
So although the Ford F-150 is still by far the best-selling vehicle overall, in this article we’re going to focus on only the most popular cars. Let’s dive in.
10. Volkswagen Golf
Total sales in 2021: 8,589 units. A drop of 34.5 percent from 2020
The Volkswagen Golf is one of those cars that made the top ten list last year, but it seems to be on its way out the door (or off the list in this case). After suffering a staggering 34.5% decrease in sales compared to last year — the biggest such drop seen here — the Golf barely squeaked onto the list at #10.
That said, being one of the ten best-selling cars in Canada is nothing to scoff at. The Golf is a popular car that draws people in with its recognizable styling, fuel-efficient motors, 5-passenger seating, FWD or AWD options, and responsive handling.
Heading into 2022, the current Golf is being replaced with a brand new generation. For the 8th iteration of the Golf, the standard models are being discontinued and only the more performance-oriented GTI and R models are going to be built. Even though the Volkswagen Golf as we know it is on its way out, we’re excited to see what the new generation has in store.
9. Nissan Sentra
Total sales in 2021: 10,017 units. An increase of 47.2 percent from 2020
While it might be a bit surprising, the car on this list with the biggest YOY increase in sales is none other than the Nissan Sentra. Although it might be considered as a little brother to the Altima and Maxima, the Sentra outsells both year after year.
With the stylish and modernized look of the current generation Sentra, the most affordable 5-passenger compact sedan built by Nissan is a great car for the price. And while drivers seem to be heading more and more in the direction of trucks and SUVs, there will always be a place for high-quality compact sedans like the Sentra.
With its 149-hp 4-cylinder engine, the Sentra can rack up a respectable 29 mpg in the city and a whopping 39 mpg on the highway. Fuel efficient, spacious, stylish, and comfortable, the Sentra is a popular choice among Canadians and Nissan hopes it can repeat its YOY sales increase heading into next year.
Total sales in 2021: 11,804 units. A drop of 7.6 percent from 2020
Next up at number 8 on this list is another car that’s suffered a decrease in sales compared to 2020 — the Mazda3. Compared to most of the other cars on this list, the Mazda is arguably the most stylish if you’re looking for something a bit more sporty. While it’s not quite as performance-oriented as its close cousin, the now discontinued MazdaSpeed3, the standard Mazda3 is nothing to scoff at.
The 2021 model year came with two engine options — a 2.0L 4-cylinder and a more powerful turbocharged 2.5L 4-cylinder. Depending on which model you go with, this peppy little car puts out between 155 and 227 hp. In combination with its 35+ mpg gas mileage on the highway, the Mazda3 is a responsive car that has been popular in Canada for years.
For drivers that opt for the turbocharged model, it also comes standard with AWD and a capable 6-speed automatic transmission. Even for the base model, the standard FWD configuration can hold its own and the sales numbers year after year show that customers love the Mazda just as much as ever.
7. Toyota Camry
Total sales in 2021: 11,896 units. An increase of 16.9 percent from 2020
When you clicked on this article, I’m willing to bet you had a sneaking suspicion in the back of your mind that you’d see at least one Toyota on the list. And the first entry is the popular Toyota Camry as the 7th best-selling car in Canada in 2021.
The most unique thing about the Camry, when compared to the other cars on this list, is that it’s technically not a compact sedan. The Camry is actually a mid-size sedan, meaning it’s a bit bigger and a bit more spacious than most of the other cars on this list.
2021 was a big year for the Camry, with the well-known Toyota receiving its first ever Toyota Racing Development (TRD) variant. This powerful 301-hp family car is a huge step for the automaker, and the improvement was incredibly well received. Additionally, the Camry now comes with AWD standard and also received an upgraded entertainment system.
No wonder Camry sales were up year over year!
6. Volkswagen Jetta
Total sales in 2021: 12,585 units. An increase of 19.3 percent from 2020
While the increase in sales for some cars was in part due to big changes compared to its 2020 model year — like the Camry — others remain largely unchanged and still did well. Case in point, the Volkswagen Jetta, coming in at #6 on this list.
This isn’t a knock on the Jetta. The car went through a fresh new redesign in 2019, so all of the changes from that overhaul are still fresh and still garner plenty of attention from car buyers. As the old adage goes, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. And not only was the Jetta not broken, but it’s wildly popular throughout the country.
This compact 5-passenger sedan is affordable, refined, and incredibly fuel-efficient. It’s one of the few cars to make this top ten list that is capable of more than 40 mpg on the highway. And let’s not forget about the GLI trim, which is even more sporty and responsive than the base model!
5. Tesla Model 3
Total sales in 2021: 12,800 units (estimate). An increase of 14.3 percent from 2020
Even though the Tesla Model 3 is by far the most popular all-electric car in the country, you might be surprised to see it so high on this list. But electric cars are coming sooner than we think, and Tesla is leading the way in terms of innovation, features, and tech inside this next generation of transportation.
Ever since the Model 3 was released, it’s been popular for its futuristic styling that is instantly recognizable any time you see one on the roads. That, in conjunction with its 272 – 358 mile range (437 – 576 km), makes the Tesla a popular option. Especially with gas prices going through the roof recently!
As electric cars garner more and more attention , I expect sales to increase for the foreseeable future. So don’t be surprised next year if the Model 3 is even higher on the list!
4. Kia Forte
Total sales in 2021: 14,428 units. An increase of 0.4 percent from 2020
Coming in as the 4th best-selling car in Canada in 2021 we have the Kia Forte. Boasting a modest 0.4% increase in sales compared to 2020, the Forte is the one on this list with the smallest boost in sales. But any increase is better than a decrease in an automaker’s eyes!
Kia has focused heavily on exterior redesigns to provide more stylish, sporty, and modern looks to their cars across the lineup. And the Forte is no exception. In fact, the Forte’s new style closely resembles that of the Kia Stinger, which is the company’s flagship performance-oriented option.
The 5-passenger compact Forte is not only stylish, but it’s also capable of producing just over 40 mph on the highway. And with engine options giving you more than 200 horsepower, the Forte is a blast to drive.
3. Hyundai Elantra.
Total sales in 2021: 26,312 units. An increase of 19.6 percent from 2020
For anyone that didn’t know, Hyundai is actually the parent company of Kia, meaning that the same company takes not only the #4 spot with the Forte, but also the #3 spot on our list with the ever-popular Hyundai Elantra.
The Elantra has been one of the best-selling cars in Canada for as long as I can remember, and it doesn’t look like that’s changing any time soon with a 19.6% YOY increase in sales. This could be in large part to Kia’s aforementioned focus on the redesign, which led to the Elantra being lowered, widened, and lengthened to totally change its look.
In addition, the 5-passenger compact sedan lineup also received a new gas-electric version known as the Hyundai Hybrid and the new Hyundai N-Line for those looking for more performance.
Bottom line: the Elantra is here to stay.
2. Toyota Corolla
Total sales in 2021: 40,019 units. An increase of 20.6 percent from 2020
I’m personally a huge fan of #2 on this list, especially following its redesign just a couple of years ago. The Toyota Corolla is not just your basic old compact sedan anymore. With its surprisingly sporty and stylish new exterior, the Corolla has become something beyond what it used to be. And with its reputation in tow, it’s tough to pass up on this great car.
With the most recent iteration of the Corolla, drivers are able to get either the popular 5-passenger sedan we’ve all come to love or the refreshed hatchback version of the car. If you would’ve told me a decade ago that I’d be able to get my hands on a sporty Toyota Corolla hatchback that feels almost like a Lexus and is packed full of tech, I would’ve said you’re crazy.
But here we are.
1. Honda Civic.
Total sales in 2021: 43,556 units. An increase of 1.3 percent from 2020
The moment you’ve been waiting for. The best-selling car in Canada in 2021 was the Honda Civic. For anyone that’s been paying attention to sales in this country for many years, this is no surprise as the Civic has dominated the Canadian market for decades.
Even though Honda was met with criticism for doing away with the 2-door Civic, the 5-passenger compact sedan has maintained its popularity, especially with the hatchback option remaining. And with the Civic Type R being one of the best vehicles on the road period, Civic fans have plenty of options to choose from.
Even though there was only a 1.3% sales increase compared to 2020, the sheer number of units sold cannot be argued. And with a brand new redesign coming this year with the 2022 models, I’d be willing to bet the Civic will maintain its position at #1 for years to come.
While it’s been a roller coaster of a ride across all aspects of life the last couple of years, it seems that car sales in Canada are starting to get back to normal. With eight out of the ten cars on this list having YOY sales increases, things are looking up for the industry.
But no matter what happens, we’ll be here at Car Digest to guide you along the way and give you the most helpful automotive content that you’ll find on the web. Come back next year to check out our ten best-selling cars of 2022 and see if the Civic was able to stay on top of the mountain after all!