What are the 10 best selling vehicles in Canada for 2021's first quarter?
2020’s Spring collapse due to stay-at-home orders and lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, created pent-up demand, caused potential buyer's savings to accumulate, and opened up discretionary spending. Those factors came home to roost throughout much of the second half of 2020, but they were all the more evident in the first quarter of 2021.
The result: increased Q1 automobile sales figures from many of Canada’s best-selling vehicles. Setting aside the strong auto sales period of 2016 to 2019, the first quarter of 2021 was even better than what the industry achieved in 2015, which at the time was a record year.
Pickup truck sales? Growing! Compact SUVs, the biggest segment of all? Exploding. High-end luxury? Skyrocketing!
Of course, the year-over-year comparison with 2020’s first-quarter – sales rose 16 per cent to just under 385,000 units – is largely invalid. The first quarter of 2020 ended with one of the most sudden economic halts in history. The second quarter of 2021 will reveal an even more striking year-over-year shift, as it wasn’t until April that the enormity of the auto industry’s demand disappearance became evident (only 47,000 vehicles were sold last April, down nearly 140,000 sales from April 2019).
There are, however, top-selling vehicles that actually managed to produce even fewer sales in early 2021’s healthy market than in early 2020’s disastrous market. That’s right, they’re cars. Demand for passenger cars is even worse now than it was when the pandemic first took hold of the Canadian economy.
Regardless of the category, however, demand is only part of the equation. Across swathes of the Canadian market, inventory remains problematic. In certain instances, the inventory crisis is escalating due to microchip shortages and what many believe will be a forthcoming rubber shortage, as well. It’s almost enough to make you wax nostalgic for the days of prowling grocery store aisles in search of toilet paper.
Inventory constraints or not, Canada’s 10 most popular vehicles combined for more than 140,000 sales in 2021’s first-quarter. That’s better than one-third of the entire new vehicle market. It’s a group of four pickups, four crossovers, and two cars. Three are made in Canada. Seven different manufacturers are represented. All but one were present on this very same list a year ago; five maintained their position. As the Mazda CX-5, Hyundai Tucson, Hyundai Elantra, Jeep Grand Cherokee, and Jeep Wrangler stand on the outside looking in, these were Canada’s 10 best-selling vehicles in 2021’s first quarter.
Top 10 Best Selling Vehicles In Canada 2021-Q1 Summary Table
For best results, scroll table left/right on your mobile device, to view all columns.
Sales 2021 Q1
|#1||Ford F-Series||30,238 units sold||up 6%|
|#2||Ram Pickup||21,367 units sold||up 11%|
|#3||GMC Sierra||16,670 units sold||up 41%|
|#4||Toyota RAV4||15,665 units sold||up 45%|
|#5||Chevrolet Silverado||14,478 units sold||up 30%|
|#6||Honda CR-V||11,533 units sold||up 26%|
|#7||Nissan Rogue||9,218 units sold||up 67%|
|#8||Honda Civic||7,158 units sold||down 21%|
|#9||Toyota Corolla||7,116 units sold||down 9%|
|#10||Hyundai Kona||6,860 units sold||up 55%|
#10 - Hyundai Kona Sales 2021-Q1: 6, 860 units sold, up 55%
Up from 13th at this time last year, the Hyundai Kona is the only member of this best sellers group that wasn’t among the 10 leaders in the first-quarter of 2020. But Kona sales are booming — in fact, Kona sales exploded even during the deep, dark COVID challenges of 2020. Sales jumped 56 per cent last summer, for example. The Kona is now solidly entrenched as Canada’s No.1 subcompact crossover.
#9 - Toyota Corolla Sales 2021-Q1: 7,116, down 9%
Although very nearly the top-selling car in Canada in the first-quarter of 2021, the Toyota Corolla nevertheless reported a quantifiable sales decline (the Corolla actually outsold the Civic during the month of March). The Corolla’s chances of finishing 2021 ahead of the Honda remain low, however. Honda will pump out remaining 10th-gen Civics and then generate ample hype with an all-new 11th-gen Civic later this year. Yet for now, the Corolla certainly appears in with a shout, trailing the Civic by only 42 sales.
#8 - Honda Civic Sales 2021-Q1: 7,158, down 21%
Temporarily endangered by a dreadful first-quarter in which Honda Civic sales fell nearly three times faster than the passenger car market at large, Honda’s 23-time best-seller is entering a heavier incentive phase with the aim of maintaining its crown. The Civic first became Canada’s top-selling car in 1998 but was last the overall top selling vehicle in 2008. At this point in 2020, the Civic ranked seventh overall.
#7 - Nissan Rogue Sales 2021-Q1: 9,218, up 67%
Surging forward from the 10th overall position in 2020’s first quarter to seventh in 2021, the Nissan Rogue proves just how essential a generational changeover can be. From the Nissan Rogue’s peak of 43,418 sales in 2017, Canadian volume fell below 38,000 units just two years later. Only 25,998 Rogues were sold last year. The long-awaited much-needed new Rogue arrived at the tail end of 2020 and is wildly more competitive. It’s paying off.
#6 - Honda CR-V Sales 2021-Q1: 11,533, up 26%
2020 was the first year in Canada in which the CR-V became Honda’s top seller. Now, only three months into 2021, the CR-V is outselling the No.2 Honda by a whopping 1.6-to-1 margin. This is the heart of the modern automobile market. The CR-V is dominating Honda showrooms, but it’s losing ground to Canada’s top-ranked SUV. Sales of the CR-V are growing; sales of the Toyota RAV4 are booming. Both are built in Canada.
#5 - Chevrolet Silverado Sales 2021-Q1: 14,478, up 30%
Pickup trucks are a major component in a revitalized Canadian auto market. Or at least they would be if automakers could stock enough pickups to meet demand. In the first quarter of 2021, that hasn’t been as much of a challenge for General Motors as it has for Ford and Ram. As a result, Chevrolet Silverado sales are up 30 per cent in a full-size truck sector where the competition is up just 6 per cent.
#4 - Toyota RAV4 Sales 2021-Q1: 15,665, up 45%
From the fifth position a year ago, the Toyota RAV4 motored into the top four in 2021 thanks to a 45-per-cent year-over-year sales increase valued at nearly 5,000 additional sales. The RAV4’s broad model range does Toyota big favours: the hybrid and plug-in hybrid are big hits, as well, especially since there’s such a bizarre scarcity of competition for green vehicles in Canada’s most popular segment.
#3 - GMC Sierra Sales 2021-Q1: 16,670, up 41%
Combined, GMC Sierra and its Chevrolet Silverado sibling actually combined to outsell the top-ranked vehicle in the country in 2021’s first quarter. It was a narrow margin; fewer than 1,000 units. But that’s a major shift. It speaks volumes about GM’s market share in the full-size truck sector. At this point last year (2020), GM owned 31 per cent of Canada’s full-size pickup market. That figure now stands at 37 per cent.
#2 - Ram pickup: 21,367, up 11%
Stellantis’s full-size truck, the Ram 1500 and its heavy duty siblings, are locked firmly in the No.2 position, with little danger of falling off the podium and virtually no chance of ascending the top of the podium. It’s not a bad place to be, not in an era of booming pickup truck demand. Full-size trucks now produce 22 per cent of all auto sales in Canada. The Ram pickup produces one-quarter of that 22 per cent.
#1 - Ford F-Series Sales 2021-Q1: 30,238, up 6%
Restricted availability as Ford transitions into a new F-150 hasn’t stopped the F-Series from easily securing top spot in Canada’s overall vehicle sales rankings (the F-Series has been No.1 since 2009). But it has limited the big Ford’s market share in the full-size truck sector, which dropped three points from last year to 36 per cent. Yet the F-Series remains a key indicator of the overall Canadian auto market: one out of every 13 vehicles sold in Canada is a full-size Ford pickup.