For the first time in 24 years, there’s a new top-selling car in Canada.
The Toyota Corolla knocked the Honda Civic from the throne on which it sat for nearly a quarter century, but it’s too soon to say whether the dethronement is the start of a long-term trend.
Toyota sold 33,096 Corollas in 2023, surpassing the Civic total of 29,722 by more than 3,000 units.
Corolla sales fell 17 per cent compared with a year ago, while Civic sales were off 31 per cent.
“We’re very humbled and gratified by how Canadians have reacted to that particular entry we have in market. It remains our sort of bread-and-butter, go-to vehicle for so many Canadians,” Cyril Dimitris, Toyota Canada vice-president of sales and marketing, told Automotive News Canada. “When we hear that it’s the No. 1 selling sedan or passenger car, we’re very gratified by that.”
There were plenty of reasons for Toyota’s big win, but analysts say none guarantees the Corolla of a repeat performance in 2023.
Sam Fiorani, vice-president of global vehicle forecasting at U.S.-based AutoForecast Solutions, says the Corolla offers more choice than the Civic.
“A wider range of models, including one with a lower base price than any Civic and an AWD model, makes the range more appealing to Canadian buyers,” Fiorani said.
The Corolla base price is $27,564, including shipping, while the entry-level Civic is slightly more at Honda’s “all-in price” of $28,746. But, Toyota offers the Corolla sedan in eight trims, a hatchback and a sporty GR version. The Civic comes in just four trims, but also is available in a hatchback and performance Type R.
“I personally think we’ve done a great job at keeping this product refreshed,” Dimitris said of the Corolla. “And that means new powertrains, different powertrains, new features.
“We’ve added all-wheel drive to the vehicle. It comes in a hybrid. It comes in new body styles.
“Most recently, we’ve injected some energy into the Corolla brand with GR Corolla.
“When you do those things, we feel we’re appealing to a broader and broader audience. And we feel there is a Corolla for just about anybody.”
Dimitris said it was never Toyota Canada’s to specifically target Civic.
“We have lots of internal goals and targets we set, but certainly knocking off Civic was not a conscious mission within our organization, especially in this environment of supply chain disruptions and challenges. It wasn’t something we were out to do,” he said. “It’s really about trying to eke out every product we can sell, every vehicle we can sell and get it to customers.
“Our way of going about our business is really to assess what the public need and want is in our lineup and try to do our best to fulfil that need and want as efficiently and as effectively as we can in this environment.”
CIVIC SUFFERS SETBACKS