Last year's winner: the Kia Rio / Rio 5-Door (pictured)
The subcompact segment is the traditional gateway to a whole new world of independence and mobility. Smaller cars are also chosen by seasoned car owners for their tidy size, making city life easier thanks to their compact footprint and low ownership costs. With frugal engines, simple maintenance needs, and little complexity, subcompacts have always been a rational choice for the budget-savvy. Designed for owners who need to extract maximum value from their hard-earned dollars, subcompacts are often known to last and last, faithful little warriors of the daily grind.
Last year's winner: the Mazda3 (pictured) / Mazda3 Sport
More car shoppers than ever are looking for a crossover, SUV, or pickup truck as their next vehicle, but many Canadians still desire a small, efficient compact car. Not only are these vehicles some of the most affordable to buy, but they are also great on gas and easy to manoeuvre, making them perfect for those living in cities and other densely populated areas.
- Honda Civic / Civic Hatchback
- Hyundai Elantra
- Mazda3 / Mazda3 Sport
- Toyota Corolla / Corolla Hatchback
- Volkswagen Golf GTI / Golf R
Last year's winner: the Hyundai Sonata
The traditional four-door family sedan is slowly disappearing – its market share has decreased two-thirds in the last decade. Despite this decline, several automakers have recently plowed significant development dollars into new or refreshed versions of their four-door sedans. For shoppers who prize practicality, comfort, and spaciousness, this segment offers unparallel value.
Compact Luxury Car
Last year's winner: the Genesis G70
While SUVs are the trend du jour, every manufacturer who still produces sedans deserves some credit, especially compact sedans with a low centre of gravity, modern advances in handling, and all the technological bells and whistles.
Large Luxury Car
Last year's winner: the Genesis G90
Automotive fashions may wax and wane – currently, the love of SUV and crossovers shows no end – yet despite this, the large opulent sedan still holds flagship status among luxury vehicle purveyors. Occupying but a small slice of the market, these four-door conveyances have historically introduced a manufacturer’s latest forward tech and luxury appointments.
Last year's winner: the Volvo V60 / V60 Cross Country (pictured)
For years, the humble station wagon was viewed by many car shoppers as less cool than your father’s dance moves. Supplanted by minivans and then later by all-wheel-drive crossovers and SUVs, wagons were suddenly deader than disco. Well, not entirely. Equipped many of the features and much of the power as their SUV/crossover cousins, but imbued with a much lower centre of gravity, the modern station wagon has become something of a secret handshake, a silent nod to those in the know.
- Audi A4 Allroad
- Audi A6 Allroad / Audi RS 6 Avant
- Mercedes-Benz C-Class Wagon
- Mercedes-Benz E-Class Wagon
- Volvo V60 / Volvo V60 Cross Country
Performance Car Under $50K
Last year's winner: the Mazda MX-5
Canadian winters usually force many performance car owners to put their baby away for the winter; however, sports cars and other track-bred vehicles remain surprisingly popular here – especially these finalists, which serve up plenty of fun without breaking the bank.
Performance Car Over $50K
Last year's winner: the Chevrolet Corvette
While the market is now mostly driven by crossovers and SUVs, aspirational sports cars will continue to be, as they always have been, icing on the automotive cake.
- Chevrolet Corvette
- Mercedes-AMG GT
- Porsche 718 Boxster / 718 Cayman / 718 Spyder
- Porsche 911
- Toyota GR Supra
Last year's winner: the Kia Seltos
Subcompact SUVs factor prominently among today’s entry-grade offerings in new-car showrooms as manufacturers continue to roll out replacements for slow-selling sedan and hatchback models. Small crossovers have become such a big deal so quickly that a few automakers now have multiple models that slot in below the compact SUV threshold.
Last year's winner: the Toyota RAV4
When discussing the most important sales category in the country – and one in which attributes like safety, reliability, and value for money are key considerations – consistency speaks volumes. Of course, in such a hotly contested segment, there's no shortage of newcomers to shake things up. Ford has managed such a feat, with not one, but two new entries breaking into the finalist bracket.
Last year's winner: the Kia Telluride
The minivan used to be the people-mover of choice, but now, those who need to haul a household primarily look at three-row SUVs. Every model on our shortlist of finalists can carry seven or eight occupants, and their seats can be folded or flipped down when maximum cargo space is required. The main difference between crossovers and minivans is the ride height – while the former provides a more commanding vantage point, the latter requires less lifting when loading up cargo.
- Chevrolet Suburban / Chevrolet Tahoe
- Hyundai Palisade
- Kia Telluride
- Nissan Pathfinder
- Toyota Highlander
Luxury Subcompact SUV
Last year's winner: the Volvo XC40
We Canadians love SUVs and to assuage our endless appetite, manufacturers now offer them in all sizes, including subcompact, which is a relatively new segment of luxury vehicles. These small crossovers are for drivers who want something small and nimble enough to fit in city traffic, park in the little spots, and slip through sudden snarls. But the same vehicle needs to be rugged and roomy enough to carry their snowboarding equipment for a socially distanced weekend in the country.
Luxury 2-Row SUV
Last year's winner: the Porsche Macan
Shopping for an SUV? You and everyone else, it seems. But if you’ve got a bit more budget to play with and can serve your wants as much as your needs, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by your options. Two-row SUVs run the gamut of size, performance, electrification options, and comfort and convenience features, especially in the higher price brackets, and choosing the right one for you is a bit like trying to find the perfect pair of shoes.
Luxury 3-Row SUV
Last year's winner: the Genesis GV80
Sport utility vehicles (SUVs) are taking over market share at a blistering pace, even in the realm of fine leathers, exotic wood trims, and boardroom ambiance that is the luxury market. The size of these SUVs allow manufacturers to load them up with as many features as their clientele demands.
Last year's winner: the Chrysler Pacifica (pictured) / Grand Caravan
You’re probably well aware of the waning popularity of the minivan. But enough demand remains that a few automakers have stayed in the segment with vehicles that – to paraphrase an old marketing slogan – are not your parents’ minivans. While each one boasts something unique that should appeal to family drivers, all of today’s vans are well-conceived vehicles with tons of features and satisfy the baseline requirement of being able to move lots of people and stuff inside a manageable footprint.
Last year's winner: the Chevrolet Colorado (pictured) / GMC Canyon
The midsize truck segment has always had an unusual relationship with Canadians; the compact truck segment, meanwhile, has only just returned. With full-size pickups growing ever larger (and cities ever more cramped), is the market finally ready to embrace smaller trucks?
Last year's winner: the Ram 1500
You’ve heard it a million times: The best-selling vehicles in Canada, for pretty much as long as any of us can remember, are pickup trucks. And that’s not just because they’re gobbled up by work fleets, but because a lot of everyday drivers prefer their rides to have a box in back.
Green Vehicle Under $50K
Last year's winner: the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid / RAV4 Prime (pictured)
There is no better time to be going green, as the market is full of practical, attractive, and high-tech alternative-powertrain vehicles like electric vehicles (EVs), hybrids, and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs). With more range than ever before, the latest crop of EVs also uses some smart battery management to help you get the most out of each charge.
- Hyundai Ioniq 5 (EV)
- Kia Soul (EV)
- Tesla Model 3 (EV)
- Toyota RAV4 Hybrid / RAV4 Prime (Hybrid/PHEV)
- Volkswagen ID.4 (EV)
Green Vehicle Over $50K
Last year's winner: the Porsche Taycan
Electric vehicles used to be very budget-minded affairs with the priority given to efficiency and cost savings, but the newest crop of premium EVs leave nothing behind in terms of features, performance, and range. Due to the versatile nature of EV platforms, many of these electric cars are spacious and practical, but also offer serious performance, insane acceleration, and plenty of driving range.
- Ford F-150 / F-150 Lightning (Hybrid/EV)
- Ford Mustang Mach-E (EV)
- Polestar 2 (EV)
- Porsche Taycan / Taycan Cross Turismo (EV)
- Jeep Wrangler 4xe (PHEV)
New Tech Innovation
Pictured above, the MBUX Hyperscreen in the Mercedes EQS
New for the 2022 AutoTrader.ca Awards, this category highlights technologies newly available in production vehicles that provide a tangible benefit to drivers and have the potential to see widespread adoption by other manufacturers.
- Ford – Onboard Power Inverter
- Ford – Onboard Weight Scales
- Augmented Reality Head-Up Display
- Mercedes – MBUX Hyperscreen
- Volvo/GM – Android Automotive OS
New Safety Technology
Pictured above, GM's Super Cruise demonstrated in the Cadillac Escalade
New for the 2022 AutoTrader.ca Awards, this category highlights new safety technologies in vehicles to protect occupants in case of emergencies, or to prevent them altogether.
- Ford BlueCruise
- Genesis Radar-Based Occupant Alert System
- GM Super Cruise
- Mercedes PRE-SAFE Impulse Side
- Lexus Safety System+ 3.0
Vehicle for Adventure
Pictured above, the Ford Bronco
New for the 2022 AutoTrader.ca Awards, this category highlights vehicles from across all segments that offer superior off-road capability but also on-road driveability.