2021 Auto Buying Guide: The best cars you can buy now in Canada
Researching your next vehicle? We've rounded up the best cars for 2021, no matter how you drive or where you live in Canada.
Researching your next vehicle? We've rounded up the best cars for 2021, no matter how you drive or where you live in Canada.
Whether you’re looking to freshen up your ride or invest in your very first one, you’ve got choices. Automotive showrooms are filled with several new designs for 2021: While the trend for crossovers and SUVs continues to grow, the new model year also offers up noteworthy sedans, as well as a host of new electric models and (gasp) there’s even a completely redesigned minivan.
When COVID-19 hit, many Canadians stayed home and left their vehicles sitting in their driveways. And that hit the automotive sector hard. By April 2020, new car sales were down 70% compared to the previous year. Since then, though, sales have slowly been returning to more traditional numbers. A few automakers even recorded their best-ever October on record, so it seems that Canadians are thinking about purchasing new vehicles once again.
For some, a new automobile purchase represents a mobile refuge and a means to travel while we shy away from flying for the time being. (The idea of a safe haven on wheels might make some wonder if the iconic AMC Pacer with its bubble-shaped roof was built a couple decades too soon.)
If you’re wondering what kind of car you need now, it still makes sense to start with where and how you live. That’s the framework for our roundup vehicles to consider if you live downtown and need to squeeze into a tight underground parking spot, or if you have plenty of elbow room in the burbs and beyond.
City living has plenty of advantages, but spaciousness isn’t often one of them. Vehicle ownership for those living deep within urban confines comes with a host of unique challenges like on-street parking or driving on old and narrow streets. So, it’s no surprise that many urban vehicle owners tend to prefer smaller-sized choices.
Luckily, the 2021 model year includes feature-rich rides in compact packages.
The darling of auto designers has been the sub-compact crossover. Just about every mainline automaker has an offering in this category making the space full of choices. Not to be left out, Kia has launched the all-new Seltos. Despite it being about 15 inches shorter than a Honda Civic or Kia Forte, the Seltos with its high roofline is far roomier inside than one would think. A pair of engine options, and plenty of standard safety features make it a good value proposition. And for the Gen Y and Z set, the top-level trim has a Bose sound system with mood lighting that pulses at night to make it like a nightclub on wheels.
For years Mazda pointed to the fact it was a smaller automaker compared to larger Japanese rivals as a reason why it had not launched an electric vehicle. That changes in 2021 with the launch of the MX-30. It will be a compact crossover that will resemble the CX-3, but not much else is known about range, power, and pricing just yet. In the meantime, rev up for a test drive next spring when it’s expected to hit Canadian shores.
Subcompact cars are still on trend, and while there are fewer automakers offering them, those who do are committed to packing a lot of car into a limited space. Nissan is launching its third-generation Versa in 2021 and the new design goes beyond what small, entry-level vehicles are known for. It’s a sedan that still targets younger buyers or those looking to downsize, but the more attractive design with plenty of modern tech and safety features—such as Nissan’s Safety Shield 360 suite—will attract buyers across the board.
Every so often an automaker will bring back a nameplate that they jettisoned, and in Toyota’s case that would be the Venza. With a design that comes off as a cross between a typical wagon and a crossover, the Venza was a popular family vehicle for Canadians before being shelved five years ago. For 2021, the Venza is back with updated styling including higher and sculpted lines that will attract buyers who want to own something sophisticated and geared towards modern comfort. Most notably, the new Venza is only offered with a hybrid powertrain with no gas-only option available.
Perhaps the one automaker that remains committed to making wagons more than any other is Volvo. The V60 mid-sized wagon has always been a popular seller within the brand, and for 2021 it includes Volvo’s new Advanced Air Cleaner technology and a sensor that can measure microscopic particles inside the cabin. It’s a feature currently unique to Volvo, and if you have the budget, it can help ease your COVID-era jitters.
If you live in the suburbs, you typically have a greater reliance on your vehicle to manage the demands of daily life. Outside the city limits is where growing families seek more space and where vehicle needs tend to be a bit different than for those deep in an urban jungle. Must-haves for their chariots of choice include enough passenger room for growing families as well as cargo space for the usual array of hockey bags, golf clubs and grocery bins.
The mid-sized crossover segment is typically where automakers find their best-selling models. In the case of Nissan, the Rogue represents about 30% of their entire sales, and for 2021 they have launched a third-generation model to keep sales strong. The new Rogue has a bolder look than before with many family-friendly features such as a 2nd row door that opens 85 degrees to make it easier to load a baby seat.
Sedans still have a place in suburban settings, but those that do well tend to offer roomy passenger comfort and enough trunk space for cargo. While the new Sonata design is technically a 2020 model, it’s noteworthy for the extremely eye-catching exterior design and new technology: The hybrid version of the Sonata now comes with roof solar panels to provide extra energy to the vehicle when the sun is out. And for suburban drivers not used to parking in tight city spaces, their smart-park autonomous parking technology is a true blessing to enjoy.
The automaker that brought us the Leaf is ready to introduce its 2nd all-electric model with the Ariya Crossover. Sized similarly to the Rogue, the Ariya is said to have a driving range of close to 500 KMs (and up to 375 km with a 30-minute Fast Charge) and a lush lounge-like interior. Look out for complete details in the spring.
Despite rumours to the contrary, minivans still exist. And for larger families who need more than 5 seats and plenty of cargo space to match, there’s nothing that beats a minivan. The lament for minivan lovers is that the pickings today are slim, but there is room to rejoice as Toyota is launching a new version of their Sienna for the first time in a decade. The biggest change among many is that it comes standard as a hybrid, which means larger families can have the space they need and also save more at the pumps.
Over the years, the Cadillac Escalade has been seen in parking lots of many a hockey arena or suburban shopping mall. The behemoth 3-row SUV has always appealed to those looking for a big ride with a big price tag, and for 2021 an all new Escalade has arrived. The new model features a massive 38-inch OLED curved display screen and an available 36 speaker AKG sound system. This is a truly tricked out ride.
2021 will also see several new models fit for any driveway. And while we’re not trying to put the spotlight solely on Ford here, the reality is that Canada’s top selling automaker has three highly anticipated new releases coming in 2021.
Perhaps no battery electric vehicle has garnered as much buzz and even controversy as the Mustang Mach-e. Many Mustang purists have frowned at the idea of putting the legendary muscle-car brand into a new electric crossover, but Ford believes they have created something that will appeal to both environmentalists and performance car lovers alike, and we wait with huge anticipation to see whether that’s true or not.
Canadians love their trucks, and no truck sells more in Canada than the F-150. For 2021, it heralds the 14th generation of the ubiquitous half-tonne, and the new design is like an office on wheels to meet the needs of professionals who need the space and flexibility to work out of their truck. Another big change for the F-150 is the first ever available hybrid powertrain with an all-electric model coming in 2022.
After a 25-year hiatus, Ford is reviving an iconic nameplate and in doing so, it has put the Jeep Wrangler clearly in its crosshairs. There will be three new versions of the Bronco that finally shake-off it’s bad boy image. The Bronco Sport will be your typical family-hauling and mid-sized SUV. It arrives towards the end of 2020, followed by 2- and 4-door 4×4 versions in the spring with the flexibility to remove the doors and the roof so you can head out for free-wheeling and off-road adventures.
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What a bunch of crap! These are by no means the “best” cars in Canada…they are mostly a few of the ubiquitous SUVs (Stupid Ugly Vehicles) available. I ask you what is the point of a sub-compact SUV if you choose a car for “more space”? The biggest SUVs are foisted on Canadians by Americans who always want the biggest of anything.
The small SUV sardine cans are world cars needed by Europeans who have little space for cars. Check out the beautiful, stylish, roomy station wagons in Europe that are not available in North America. What a shame!
Readers should consult with Consumer Reports to see the most reliable and safe cars.
Why are hybrid and electric vehicles not featured here? Have we already solved climate Change?
That is non sensical garbage
I agree with others . How is the author of this article qualified to rate the best vehicles in Canada ? Big misses . No mention of Honda Accord , top 10 last 10 years , nor Toyota Camry nor any Audi, Genesis or Porsche models . This article has zero credibility with car buyers .
You only had inexpensive cars I own a Porsche 911–the best driving car period. Look at any review. You also left out the first electric Porsche. It is truly amazing . H. Noble
Terrible list of of vehicles…not a mention of a Honda!
I always buy German and/or Japanese; very reliable, thoughtful interior design and good looking.
Consult with Consumer Reports, and test drive ALL vehicles. In other words, look around, and do your homework.
Why waste money when you can buy used, especially now with all of the proprietary electronics in cars that cost a fortune to repair (most of which will make for even poorer and less attentive drivers in future). Was a North American brand loyalist for decades, wouldn’t touch them now when Japanese quality is so far ahead. Watch some car review videos to learn good models from bad and shop around, if you are not mechanically inclined find an honest independent mechanic, they do exist (word of mouth is usually a good way to find one).
What a disappointing article.
This feels more like an advertisement than a Money Sense article. Did you get collect advertisement fees for this by any chance?
Best vehicles? Hardly. This article is, as Dave Kent suggested, “a bunch of crap”. Who would ever consider an F150, a Mustang or a Ford Bronco a reliable or efficient vehicle? Vehicles from Ford, GM or Chrysler are traditionally of poor quality and require high levels of maintenance. Any list of the best vehicles (ie. performance, reliability, fuel efficiency, etc.) would be dominated by Japanese and Korean products.
I am looking for a car to replace my 2014 Chrysler 300 AWD. Unfortunately although they still make the Chrysler 300 it has to be special ordered and dealers don’t encourage you to do so. I can find no new replacement car that meets my requirements. I have driven many rental cars and when I return home it is always refreshing to get behind the wheel of my Chrysler 300.
This is my 10th Chrysler. This car only has two short comings, a black interior and blind spot warning sensors that fail and are expensive to replace.
One that would be on the top of my list is a Mazda CX-5, and thats from someone who has owned Honda’s for years. I was considering a Honda CRV but their seems to be an issue with the 1.5L Turbo Earthworks motors in regards to a Cold-Weather Oil-Dilution Problem. Based on the Honda’s response and action I would now after many years of being a Honda fan switch to a different brand so Mazda is on my list currently. Ford Bronco is ugly.
Surprised not to see the Honda CR-V on this list.