The 15 Best Cars to Buy in Canada

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    When researching the best cars to buy in Canada, remember that the purchase price is just the beginning. You need to consider car insurance costs, fuel efficiency, and maintenance when planning your budget. By choosing a car that aligns with your financial goals, your vehicle becomes a reliable tool rather than a financial burden. But finding the perfect car is no small feat. So we’ve listed the best cars to buy in Canada with a keen eye on how they impact your wallet.

    Note that this doesn’t list the cheapest cars in Canada or vehicles in a particular class, i.e., sedan, coupe, or SUV. Instead, this list provides the best all-around new vehicles currently in the market. For variety’s sake, we’ve included gas and electric vehicles, as well as more spacious options like SUVs and minivans. The price indicated is the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP). The actual price may vary depending on your dealership.

    1. Hyundai Elantra – $21,999

    Best Car to Buy in Canada for daily commuting in city traffic
    • Fuel Efficiency: 6.5 L/100 km
    • Best For: Daily commuting in heavy traffic
    • Financial Perks: Low fuel consumption saves money in the long run, while the car’s reliability ensures lower maintenance costs.

    With a slew of safety features and a combined fuel consumption of 6.5 L/100 km, the Elantra is ideal for the start-stop, unpredictable conditions of congested city traffic. The standard 2.0L engine has 147 horsepower – quite sufficient for regular commuting. If you wish, the model also comes with engine upgrades, including the turbocharged 1.6L GDI (201 horsepower) and a hybrid variant (104 horsepower combined).

    Everything about Hyundai Elantra is built for convenience. The driver’s seat is highly adjustable and offers considerable lumbar support. Assistance technologies include blind-spot, lane departure, and driver attention warnings, to name a few.

    2. Kia Forte LX – $21,095

    Best Car to Buy in Canada for those seeking a sporty drive without breaking the bank
    • Fuel Efficiency: Up to 8.9 L/100 km
    • Best For: Those seeking a sporty drive without breaking the bank
    • Financial Perks: Affordable with a responsive engine, ensuring you enjoy the ride without high fuel costs.

    Even the basic model of the Forte LX is sportier than you would presume, thanks to its 2.0L, 147 horsepower, four-cylinder engine. Additionally, this car has a front-wheel drive and intelligent variable transmission. The exterior may not scream “sports car,” but the Forte LX will be as responsive and lively as if it was built for the tracks.

    To make the ride as enjoyable as possible, Kia Forte LX includes various tech features. Inside, there’s the infotainment system with a massive display, six speakers and audio controls on the steering wheel. In terms of safety, this model has electronic stability and hill assist control.

    3. Nissan Sentra – $22,548

    Best Car to Buy in Canada for families on a budget
    • Fuel Efficiency: 6.0 L/100 km hwy
    • Best For: Families looking for safety and reliability
    • Financial Perks: Reasonably priced with excellent safety features, potentially lowering insurance costs.

    With reliable performance, excellent safety features and great affordability, the Sentra might be the very best car to buy in Canada for families. However, that doesn’t mean this car lacks the power. After all, it has a 2.0L four-cylinder engine with 149 horsepower, channelled to its front-wheel drive via a six-speed manual transmission box.

    The car has plenty of room for everyday family use, including a cargo capacity of 405 litres when the rear seats are folded down. It also comes with modern safety features, making every ride that much more secure. Some of the features included are anti-collision, lane departure, hill holder, blind spot warning, low tire pressure, and rear alert.

    4. Mazda 3 GX – $24,200

    Best Car to Buy in Canada for tight-budget dependability
    • Fuel Efficiency: 6.4 L/100 km in the city
    • Best For: Those on a tight budget seeking a dependable vehicle
    • Financial Perks: Low starting price with reliable performance, ensuring long-term savings.

    If you’re looking for a dependable vehicle at a relatively low price, the Mazda 3 GX makes an excellent choice. The 2.0L, four-cylinder engine can put out 155 horsepower, giving the car plenty to work with on open roads and in city driving.

    Despite FWD cars having supposedly lower fuel consumption, this model doesn’t excel at fuel economy, spending up to 6.4L/100 km in the city and about 10.1L on open roads. Yet, its low starting price may make up for this relatively mild shortcoming.

    5. Volkswagen Jetta Trendline – $23,595

    • Fuel Efficiency: 7.0 L/100 km combined
    • Best For: Drivers seeking versatility and modern features
    • Financial Perks: A balanced option offering modern tech without a hefty price tag, ensuring a smart investment.

    The Jetta Trendline boasts a 1.5L turbocharged TSI engine with 158 horsepower, making it a considerable, yet not overpowering, force on the road. The car has a manual transmission gearbox with six speeds. This may sound a bit old-fashioned compared to the automatic and CVT systems in many modern vehicles.

    However, the equipment in the car is cutting-edge. The Jetta Trendline comes with a digital cockpit featuring an eight-inch display. Further, drivers enjoy heated front seats and steering wheel, front assist, and numerous other tech improvements. You can choose between different driving modes, including Normal, Eco, Sport, and Custom.

    6. Toyota Corolla – $23,490

    Best Car to Buy in Canada for students and young professionals looking for safety, comfort, and efficiency on a tight budget

    Fuel Efficiency: 6.5 L/100 km (combined)
    Best For: Students and young professionals looking for safety, comfort, and efficiency
    Financial Perks: The Corolla’s competitive pricing paired with Toyota’s reputation for reliability translates to lower maintenance costs over time. Safety features also contribute to potentially lower insurance rates.

    With this compact car, the manufacturer focused on overall comfort as well as performance and safety. The latest iteration of the Corolla has a multimedia system with six speakers and numerous connectivity options. Meanwhile, under the hood, the Corolla comes with a 2.0L engine with four cylinders and 169 horsepower.

    That combination of style and performance is what makes this model one of the favourite cars for students. Meanwhile, the expansive safety systems in the Corolla include vehicle stability, traction control, smart stop, brake assist and brake force distribution. Additionally, the car has automatic high beams, cruise control, and lane departure warning to add to the robust package.

    7. Honda Civic LX-B – $26,790

    Best Car to Buy in Canada for performance and affordability

    Fuel Efficiency: 7.7 L/100 km (city), 6.0 L/100 km (highway)
    Best For: Drivers seeking a blend of performance and affordability
    Financial Perks: The Civic’s fuel efficiency and Honda’s reputation for longevity contribute to long-term savings, making it a cost-effective choice over time.

    The Civic LX-B represents an affordable solution if you’re shopping for a reliable car with power at a reasonable price. With a 2.0L four-cylinder engine and 158 horsepower, it has plenty of power to get you wherever you want to go quickly and efficiently.

    Adding to its budget-friendly nature, this model is relatively fuel-efficient. It will consume an estimated 7.7L (city) or 6.0L (highway) per 100 km, respectively. Equipped with a front-wheel drive, continuously variable transmission, stabilizer bars, and power-assisted brakes, the Civic LX-B offers a pleasant and safe driving experience.

    8. Ford Maverick XL – $35,295

    Best Car to Buy in Canada for those needing to transport loads regularly but need need a big, expensive truck

    Fuel Efficiency: Up to 11.9 L/100 km
    Best For: Those needing to transport heavy loads regularly
    Financial Perks: The Maverick’s hauling capabilities can potentially save money on rental fees for transport equipment, while its competitive pricing provides a budget-friendly truck option.

    Able to carry just 680 kg, Ford Maverick XL is perfect if you regularly need to move heavy payloads. Yet, this truck is more than your standard four-wheel workhorse. It’s equipped with an eight-inch multimedia touchscreen centre, adjustable seats and steering wheel, cruise control and other quality-of-life improvements.

    The standard variant of the truck comes with a hybrid engine of 2.5L capacity. It’s got a continuously variable transmission type, transferring the engine’s 191 horsepower to the front-wheel drive system for a respectable performance even when fully loaded. That’s why we included it among the best cars to buy in Canada, even though it doesn’t quite fit the mold.

    9. Subaru Forester – $31,995

    Best Car to Buy in Canada for families and adventure seekers

    Fuel Efficiency: Up to 7.4L/100 km
    Best For: Families and adventure seekers
    Financial Perks: The Forester’s spacious interior and safety features make it an ideal family car, potentially saving on rental costs for larger vehicles during trips and contributing to lower insurance premiums.

    As a relatively affordable SUV, the Forester is spacious, powerful and ready for long family journeys. The car features a 2.5L Subaru Boxer engine, producing 182 horsepower. The continuously variable transmission system doesn’t make it fit for particularly challenging terrains.

    On the inside, the Forester has plenty of room for the entire family, baggage and additional bits and pieces. The SUV is also equipped with amenities like an infotainment system, heated seats, and driver assistance tech. All this makes it ideal for family vacations.

    10. Honda Accord Sedan EX – $37,500

    Fuel Efficiency: 7.3 L/100 km combined
    Best For: Drivers seeking reliability with a touch of luxury
    Financial Perks: The Accord’s fuel efficiency and Honda’s stellar reliability record contribute to ongoing savings, while its advanced features offer a premium driving experience without the luxury price tag.

    Even before its current redesign, Honda Accord was considered one of the most reliable cars, both worldwide and in Canada. Today, it regularly finds its place on the list of the most respected vehicles in its price range.

    Its 1.5L four-cylinder engine can produce 192 horsepower, which is more than enough for reliable and impressive performance. At the same time, its fuel efficiency ensures economical driving, with the car getting 7.3L (city/highway combined) every 100 km. Finally, the Accord Sedan EX comes with three driving modes: Individual, Sport, and Normal.

    11. Toyota Prius XLE – $39,610

    Best Car to Buy in Canada for eco-conscious city commuters

    Fuel Efficiency: Up to 4.8 L/100 km
    Best For: Eco-conscious city commuters
    Financial Perks: The Prius’s hybrid system delivers outstanding fuel efficiency, resulting in significant fuel cost savings, and its reliable nature ensures lower maintenance costs over time.

    The 2024 Prius XLE arises from a respectable tradition of more than 20 years. This fifth generation of Toyota’s model shows how much progress the manufacturer has made with hybrid vehicles. The all-wheel drive, automatic transmission hatchback has a four-cylinder 2.0L engine and an output of 196 horsepower.

    As a hybrid, the Prius is, of course, very economical with fuel. In addition, the car handles exceptionally well, owing to pinpoint steering and satisfying, if not top-notch, braking. All these traits combine into a vehicle best fitted for everyday city driving.

    12. Hyundai Santa Fe – $37,999

    Fuel Efficiency: 10 L/100 km combined
    Best For: Families and off-road enthusiasts
    Financial Perks: The Santa Fe’s spaciousness eliminates the need for larger, more expensive vehicles for family trips, while Hyundai’s warranty provides added financial security.

    If you need a vehicle that will take care of your everyday needs and still be completely capable of taking you off the regular roads, Hyundai Santa Fe is ideal. The car has a 2.5L engine that can dish out 191 horsepower, rising to any challenge. On the other hand, that power does come at the expense of fuel efficiency, as the Santa Fe has a combined consumption of 10 L/100 km.

    This model has an expansive cargo area of more than 2,000 litres, so you can pack it for long journeys with the whole family. Speaking of which, the Santa Fe is very family-friendly due to its safety features. The car has everything from blind spot detection through driver attention and cruise control to lane, high beam and parking assist.

    13. Nissan Leaf SV – $41,748

    Best Car to Buy in Canada for young drivers and eco-conscious commuters

    Fuel Efficiency: 100% electric, 240 km range per charge
    Best For: Young drivers and eco-conscious commuters
    Financial Perks: The Leaf’s electric nature means no fuel costs and lower maintenance expenses, while its modern features appeal to younger drivers.

    Nissan Leaf SV is a reliable electric car with respectable performance, but one that doesn’t go overboard. The latest, refreshed iteration of the hatchback comes with a stock 40 kWh battery with a 240 km range and charges in 40 minutes.  The Leaf is driven by a front-wheel drive automatic transmission.

    The Leaf SV’s interior features make it an excellent choice for younger drivers. An eight-inch multi-touch colour display highlights the dashboard and lets drivers control the six-speaker audio system. Additionally, this model is equipped with regular safety features to boost security on the road.

    14. Tesla Model 3 – $53,990

    Fuel Efficiency: 100% electric, over 530 km range per charge
    Best For: Tech-savvy drivers and electric vehicle enthusiasts
    Financial Perks: The Model 3’s impressive range and low charging costs make it an economical choice for long distances, while its performance capabilities offer a premium driving experience.

    Although we’ve included several electric cars in this list, Tesla Model 3 is still one of the best cars to buy in Canada in this category. After all, Tesla is a dedicated manufacturer of high-end EVs and, as such, displays the greatest understanding of the technology.

    In fact, everything about the Model 3 is made to display the capabilities of electric cars. Its estimated battery range is slightly more than 530 km and it can reach 100 km/h in only 4.4 seconds. Furthermore, Tesla Model 3 can develop an impressive top speed of 233 km/h. These performance figures are indeed more fitting for a sports car than what you’d expect from an EV. Remember, Canada offers $5,000 rebates for long-range zero-emission vehicle purchases.

    15. BMW M3 CS – $148,000

    Fuel Efficiency: 10.0 L/100 km combined
    Best For: Enthusiasts seeking top-tier performance
    Financial Perks: While the M3 CS comes with a premium price tag, its unparalleled performance and luxury features offer an exceptional driving experience, making it a worthy long-term investment for high-end car enthusiasts.

    We just couldn’t leave off a high-end powerhouse like the M3 CS from this list, even though this model stands out in terms of price. With a six-cylinder TwinPower Turbo engine, this BMW delivers a breathtaking performance like few models in the market. The astounding 543 horsepower makes the M3 CS a beast, reaching 100 km/h in only 3.4 seconds.

    Inside, the car is the picture of sport elegance. It has carbon-fibre bucket seats and an eye-catching centre console made to behave as it looks: flawless. The automatic transmission box has eight speeds and is powered by the Steptronic Sport system.

    What to Consider When Buying a Car: A Financial Perspective

    Before you dive into the car models, it’s crucial to understand the financial aspects of buying a car in Canada. Consider the vehicle’s purpose, safety features, fuel efficiency, and how these tie into your budget. The best car to buy in Canada for YOU should meet your needs and respect your wallet with low ownership costs over the long term. Here’s what to consider:

    Purpose & Budget

    Identify the main purpose of your car. Is it for family trips, daily commuting, or off-road adventures? Your choice will significantly affect your financial planning. A family car may have higher upfront costs but can save you money in the long run with durability and reliability. On the other hand, a commuting car should be fuel-efficient to reduce daily expenses.

    Safety & Insurance Costs

    Safety is paramount. Advanced safety features might come at a higher price but can reduce your car insurance premiums. Cars equipped with passenger airbags, lane departure warnings, and other safety features are often preferred by insurance companies in Canada, potentially lowering your insurance costs.

    Certain makes and models of cars are cheaper to insure than others. Make sure you shop around and compare quotes from multiple insurance providers to find the lowest premiums.

    Fuel Efficiency: A Key to Long-Term Savings

    With rising gas prices, a fuel-efficient car is a wise choice for Canadian drivers. It directly impacts your daily expenses and is an essential factor in long-term financial planning. Coupled with the best credit card for gas, you’ll not only save on lower fuel costs but you’ll earn additional money-saving rewards like cash, points, miles, or special discounts.

    Finding the Best Car to Buy in Canada

    If you’ve set out to find the best car to buy in Canada, we hope this list helps. We’ve presented various options, from very affordable everyday vehicles to SUVs and even luxury, high-performance cars.

    If you’ve got a clear idea of how you’ll primarily use your car, you’ll likely have an easy time picking a favourite from our list. In conclusion, keep in mind that more high-tech cars will probably have specific maintenance needs. Also, keep in mind that particularly powerful vehicles may come with higher car insurance costs, something else to consider before you make a final decision.

    FAQs About the Best Cars to Buy in Canada

    Which car is the best to buy in Canada?

    The choice of the best car to buy in Canada will depend on your needs. However, if we had to go with only one model from our list, we would likely pick the Hyundai Santa Fe for its exceptional power and performance in its price range. Second, we would recommend the Honda Accord for reliability.

    What are the best used cars to buy in Canada?

    Toyota and Hyundai have recently topped the lists of best used cars for sale in Canada. Toyota Corolla and Prius are often mentioned in the passenger category, while Hyundai’s Palisade and Venue are notable among used SUVs. We should mention Honda Accord here, too, as the car is famous for its reliability and safety.

    What is the best electric car to buy in Canada?

    The Tesla Model 3 is the most common answer to the question of the best electric car in Canada. However, the famed EV manufacturer is far from the only player in the electric car field today. Other notable battery-powered cars today include Nissan Leaf, Kia EV6 and Hyundai Ioniq EV. If you’re looking for higher-budget options, the list expands to heavy hitters like Tesla Model S, MBW i3, Mercedes EQC and Jaguar I-Pace.

    What is the best small car to buy in Canada?

    Start with the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic and Hyundai Elantra. Scour the internet for lists of the best compact cars in Canada, and these three names will pop up constantly. It’s worth mentioning that the same vehicles are often listed as the most reliable vehicles in the lower to mid-price range.

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    Heidi Unrau is a senior finance journalist at Hardbacon. She studied Economics at the University of Winnipeg, where she fell in love with all-things-finance. At 25, she kicked-off her financial career in retail banking as a teller. She quickly progressed to become a Credit Analyst and then Private Lender. This hands-on industry experience uniquely positions her to provide expert insight on loans, credit scores, credit cards, debt, and banking services. She has been featured in publications such as WealthRocket, Scary Mommy, Credello, and Plooto. When she's not chasing after her two little boys, you'll find her hiding in the car listening to the Freakonomics podcast, or binge-watching financial crime documentaries with a bowl of ice cream. Fun Fact: Heidi has lived in five different provinces across Canada and her blood type is coffee.