10 cars sold in Canada that the US did not getHere in the Great White North, our selection of new vehicles sometimes differ from those on dealer lots in America. We list ten vehicles never sold south of the 49th Parallel.
As we have been recently reminded, America is quite a different place than Canada. Here in the Great White North, our selection of new vehicles sometimes differ from those on dealer lots in America. Lace up your hockey skates and wave that maple leaf proudly, we’re about to take a look at ten vehicles never sold south of the 49th Parallel.
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2015+ Nissan MicraWhile Nissan doesn't offer anything smaller than its Versa in America, it goes one size smaller here in Canada. The big-as-a-minute Micra starts at $9988, one of the cheapest ways Canadian shoppers can get new-car smell and a warranty. For that price, buyers will find a 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine, an easy shifting five-speed manual transmission, a CD stereo for their tunes, and a raft of modern safety equipment. Further up the Micra food chain, niceties such as a backup camera and power accessories make an appearance.
1983-1991 Nissan Micra
By Heep - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Wait, what? Didn’t we just talk about the Micra? Well, before Nissan foisted the current Micra upon the Canadian public in 2014, the first generation Micra plied Canadian roads in the 80s and early 90s. Sixty horsepower from a 1.2-litre engine was plenty of motivation for the pint-sized Micra, especially when paired with a five-speed manual. In an era when four-speed manual transmissions were still available, this was heady stuff. Available in three and five-door hatchback body styles, the OG Micra was a popular entrant in the Canadian small car market.
Kia RondoShoppers in the land of bald eagles and deep-fried cheese are unable to select this comfortable and family-oriented tall wagon. With an available third row and a multitude of seating configurations, the Kia Rondo is a seven seater that doesn’t have the carbon footprint of the USS Nimitz. A fuel efficient 2.0-litre, inline four-cylinder with 164 horsepower resides under the hood in all Rondo trim levels and buyers looking to retain a modicum of their youth can spec their Rondo with a manual transmission in base LX trim.
By Alofok - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,If—in the mid 80s—you sought a rear-engined, rear-wheel drive car with limited interior space, your choices were not necessarily limited to old Beetles and the Porsche 911. For a few years, the Czechoslovakian automaker sold its 120 and Rapid models of coupes and sedans to a Canadian market hungry for cheap wheels. With a side-hinged front trunk, five-speed manual transmission, and a water-cooled 1.3-litre four-cylinder engine hanging out behind the rear axle like a loaded diaper, the Skoda was a unique alternative to other compact cars of the era.
By Michael Gil from Toronto, ON, Canada - Lada Niva 4x4, CC BY 2.0,
With the Cold War still hot, the Russian purveyor of AutoVAZ machines decided to hawk their wares in Canada under the Lada banner. A sedan was on offer, but the rugged and simple Niva 4x4 hatchback is the one most Canadians remember. Cheap 4x4s always play well in snowy climes, and Canada is no exception. With easy maintenance and fix-it-with-a-hammer simplicity, the two-door Niva gained (and still enjoys) something of a cult following.
It’s a fair bet that just about every Canadian in the mid-80s either owned a Pony or knew someone who did. The five-door, rear-wheel drive hatchback was the Korean automaker’s first offering on North American soil. It quickly became a hit in a low-priced segment populated by Eastern Bloc offerings from Skoda and Lada. Priced lower than competing Escorts and Cavaliers, the nation’s fledgling Hyundai dealer network could scarcely keep up with demand. A four-cylinder engine with 70ish horsepower was decidedly low tech, with a carburetor and fussy manual choke, but buyers loved the low price and raft of features. Hyundai’s high content/low price reputation was set, and they haven’t looked back.
In the early to mid-2000s, Nissan’s X-Trail was a square-jawed crossover with a four cylinder engine and off-road intentions. Sporting a striking frontal resemblance to the Nissan Frontier of the era, it was the antithesis to Toyota’s increasingly staid RAV4. With a 2.5-litre, 165hp engine and a five-speed manual transmission as standard equipment—the X-Trail could be locked into all-wheel-drive with the flick of a switch—a feature underscoring its off-road capability and further separating it from the segment’s poseurs.
Starting in 2005 Honda’s factory in Alliston, Ontario, churned out these compact sedans exclusively for the Canadian market. Using the popular Honda Civic as its base, Acura fitted different rims and tires, upgraded the interior materials, revised the front and rear fascias, and ladled on the chrome. The CSX was actually a replacement for the EL, another Acura-ized Civic available only in the True North Strong and Free. Two years after its introduction, a hot-rod Type-S trim appeared with a 197-hp engine and suspension bits from the tasty Civic Si.
As the calendar flipped into 1993, Chevrolet dealers on both sides of the border were enjoying strong sales of their new ‘captive import’ brand, Geo. GM’s Pontiac-Buick-GMC dealer body had cried foul, claiming they were not being given the same opportunity to add volume to GM’s bottom line (and add dollars to their pockets, natch). In response, marketing mavens created the Asüna brand, hawking an odd mix of Isuzu, GM, and Daewoo badge-engineered vehicles. GM Canada changed gears a year later, folding the brand and rebadging some of the offerings under the Pontiac banner.
With Japanese, Korean, and even competing American automakers beefing up their offerings in the small car market, The General looked to its South Korean partner Daewoo for a hand in creating a compact sedan to sell alongside its existing Chevrolet Cobalt. Marketed as the Optra in Canada, this Korean built small car was offered in sedan and wagon bodystyles, powered by a lacklustre 2.2-litre four-pot eking out 145hp while managing to look like one of those badgeless anona-cars in a Canadian Tire catalogue. It was sold elsewhere in the world as the Daewoo Lacetti, Chevrolet Lacetti, Buick Excelle, and Holden Viva. It was never offered in America.