Best of

Top 10 worst new cars to drive across Canada

If you had your choice of any new 2010 model for your driving adventure?

Not that Canadians need the confirmation, but our country is big. Especially if you decide to drive across it.

From the easternmost point in Cape Spear, Nfld., to the westernmost at the Yukon-Alaska border, it’s roughly 5,514 km.

But what if you had your choice of any new 2010 model for your driving adventure?

Sure, there are some obvious picks. But there are some bad ones as well. So, as a service to Wheels readers, here’s a list of 10 new cars you definitely do not want to be driving from sea to shining sea:

Toyota Avalon

Don’t feel bad if you forgot Toyota Canada still sells the Avalon. A favourite of the blue rinse set, most of its customers are of an age where remembering what day it is can be a challenge.

A stretched version of a Camry, driving the Avalon is like eating vanilla ice cream, without the vanilla flavour. The biggest fear in setting out for the west coast from Cape Spear is falling asleep at the wheel before your first Tim Horton’s pit stop.

Ferrari 430 Scuderia Spyder

Fast? Definitely. Racecar handling? Si, si. But don’t event think of driving one across Canada. You’ll need the ghost of Enzo Ferrari himself riding shotgun to make it across the bombed-out roads of La Belle Province without shredding all four tires or bending all four rims. Not very bellisimo.

Smart ForTwo

Take it from personal experience: you do not want to venture too far from the urban jungle in the Smart (see photo above). Built for the tight confines of Medieval European cities, the $14,990 ForTwo has some obvious strikes against it as cross-Canada transportation.

Obvious debits are its lack of power, clunky transmission, dearth of cargo space, excessive road noise and susceptibility to cross winds.

But the biggest problem is the Smart’s tiny fuel tank. It only holds a little over 30 litres. I had college buddies with bigger bladders.

Not good when you’re looking for a gas station. In the middle of Saskatchewan. In January. In a snowstorm.

Toyota Yaris 3-door CE

Granted, the Smart makes the Yaris look like an Escalade (see below). And at $13,620, a base model Yaris CE three-door will save you a few bucks — and it sips fuel almost as parsimoniously as the Smart (and it has a frat boy-like 42-litre fuel tank.)

But that doesn’t mean you should drive one across Canada.

After a few hours behind the wheel, here’s what you’ll sorely be missing: four-speakers for your tunes; a rear window wiper/washer to keep the transport truck spray off; anti-lock brakes to save you when said trucker cuts you off; air conditioning when the Axe wears thin; and cruise control when your calves start to cramp.

So, a base model Yaris? Or an intercity bus? Hmmm…

Tesla Roadster

Not that I’ve seen any on the road, but apparently the $109,000 US Tesla Roadster went on sale in Canada last March.

You know the Tesla. Attempting to prove that electric cars are quicker than molasses in Timmins in February, it’s a hand-built electric car based on a Lotus Elise two-seat roadster chassis.

Powered by over 6000 lithium-ion batteries, zero-to-sixty comes up in nanoseconds. And it plugs into your wall socket at home.

Cool eh? Expect for that last “plug-in” part. If you’re planning on driving your Tesla from sea to shining sea, better bring a few books, plenty of quarters, and lots of dirty laundry.

Tesla says you should be able to get about 390 km before the batteries run dry. At that point, you just whip out its handy-dandy $1,500 Universal Mobile Connector.

“Perfect for road trips,” the UMC plugs into large industrial appliance outlets, like clothes dryers. In Laundromats.

You can then fully recharge your Tesla in “six hours or less.” Which should be plenty of time to do the whites.

Jeep Wrangler

I’ll give you this: If you decide to drive across Canada, and never touch pavement, go ahead: pick a new Wrangler. The two-door Sport model soft-top only starts at $20,595 and there are few vehicles for off-the-beaten track.

But for staying on tarmac, it’s one of the worst vehicles you can drive.

The cloth roof drums at speeds over 80 km/h. It’s as slow as a Prairie sunset. It handles like a bag of beagles in the corners. And fuel economy? Let’s just say, the only friends you’ll make will have Alberta addresses.

Cadillac Escalade EXT

While Americans have a view of us up here as dog-sledding, toothless, igloo inhabitants, we can be equally stereotypical in seeing folks south of the border as arrogant, loudmouth show-offs.

So how do you tell Canadians from Newfoundland to British Columbia that you’re not one of them? By driving the $79,575 Escalade EXT — the Cadillac of pickups.

My advice: For maximum effect, schedule your cross-Canada drive to arrive in Ottawa on Canada Day, just for fun.

Hummer H2

Much of the Escalade’s “yee-haw!!” attitude can also be found in another American icon: the quasi-military Hummer H2.

Driving the $65,250 Chevy pickup-in-drag for long shifts behind the wheel is akin to military boot camp.

Its brick shape creates a tonne of wind noise. It’s slow. You’ll need KY Jelly navigating drive-thrus. And it drinks like high school grads on prom night.

Maybach 57

From a cross-country driver’s perspective, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the über-luxurious Maybach 57.

It’s powerful, serene, and has better accommodations than most of the hotels I’ve stayed in.

But Mercedes-Benz’s first attempt to sell into the ultra-luxury domain of Bentley and Rolls Royce has met with mixed success — to say the least.

So here’s the problem: It’ll take you three extra days to get across Canada due to time having to explain why you didn’t just get a Phantom.

Honda Insight

It’s a Smart. But with more room.

Follow on
Instagram #wheelsca
Show Comments