The auto industry is in the midst of a major long-term shift, as technology pushes us toward an inevitable future of autonomous electric driving. Meanwhile, cars of all classes are quickly losing market share to crossovers and SUVs.
One consequence of both these trends is a growing demand for features that were once considered luxury items even in entry-level vehicles. The push toward autonomy means many of these now-standard features are active safety driver assists like collision-avoidance systems, but it’s also now common to find niceties like heated seats in even the most modest of models. Differences in climate and spending habits between the Canadian and American markets also inform how manufacturers equip certain models for each country.
We were reminded of that recently when comparing the lists of standard equipment for two of Canada’s most popular cars – the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla – with those of the same models sold south of the border. Both of these affordable sedans have grown up a lot in the last few years and, believe it or not, we didn’t realize that air conditioning was still an option in the Civic and Corolla in Canada, while a climate-controlled cabin is standard in both cars for the US market.
That got us thinking about what other cars in Canada can still be bought without air conditioning, a shopping list that is shorter than we thought.
We start with General Motors’ most accessible brand, whose Cruze compact (a direct competitor to the Civic and Corolla) comes without A/C, even as an option, in its most basic L trim, which is also only offered with a manual transmission. However, climate control comes standard one step up from that in the LS manual model, at $19,395.
Chevrolet’s entry-level Trax crossover also starts out with a manual transmission and no A/C. But while you can keep cool while shifting your own gears in the Cruze, the Trax requires buyers to ante up to an automatic transmission to get air conditioning, for $23,568.
The least surprising inclusion here is Chevrolet’s Spark, a sub-subcompact city car. But even it gets standard air in its base LS trim when you choose the automatic transmission, for $13,995. As an added bonus, the Spark is one of three cars you can buy new right now with crank-’em-yourself windows.
(Notably, Chevrolet’s other entry-level model, the subcompact Sonic, comes standard with A/C from its $18,295 starting price.)
Of the four models Fiat sells in North America, only the tiny 500 starts out lacking air conditioning. It’s available as an option in the least-expensive Pop trim, but is standard in the mid-range Lounge model for $20,745.
Honda’s least-expensive model is the Fit, a subcompact hatchback that punches above its weight in terms of interior space. However, it is decidedly average among small cars in that A/C is not offered in the entry-level DX trim. Honda makes it standard the next rung up in the LX model, for $18,890.
We’ve given this one away already: despite having grown up into a thoroughly refined small car, the Civic DX sedan does without air conditioning, but it’s standard in all other Civic models (including the hatchback and sedan) starting with the $19,690 LX sedan.
This South Korean brand’s entry-level model is the subcompact Accent, which comes sans A/C in L hatchback form. It’s standard, though, in the LE trim level for both sedan and hatch, which share a $17,349 MSRP.
Move up to the Elantra compact sedan, and once again it’s the most basic L trim that comes standard with no A/C. It’s a $1,943 option on top of the Elantra L’s $15,999 price, but it’s standard starting with the LE trim at $18,499.
Your options are far more limited if you want an SUV or crossover without chilled air, but SUV specialist Jeep has two in its lineup.
The first is the iconic Wrangler, in whose two-door Sport and Sport S trims A/C is an extra-cost option. At $33,945 and $37,895 respectively, this may well be the priciest vehicle you can buy today that does not include air conditioning. The four-door Unlimited Sahara includes it at $45,745, as does the two-door Rubicon, at $46,345.
Jeep’s other appearance in this list is the Renegade, whose Sport trim is the only one lacking standard climate control, at $21,995. A/C is standard in the $28,645 North trim and all those further up the price ladder.
Air conditioning costs extra in two Kia models, the subcompact Rio and compact Forte, and in both cases the entry-level LX trim is the only one that comes unchilled. In the Rio, the LX+ is where A/C becomes standard for $16,395 in sedan shape and $16,595 for the hatchback. In the Forte, air is bundled with the automatic transmission in the LX AT for $18,595, which adds more than $3,000 to the car’s base price. Both the Forte Koup and hatchback come standard with A/C.
Mazda’s sole non-climate -controlled car is the Mazda3 GX sedan. However, A/C is an easy add as part of the $1,350 comfort package (for a total of $17,350) and it’s standard in every other version of the Mazda3 sedan and hatchback.
You’re not seeing things: Mitsubishi’s only car without standard A/C is the Mirage subcompact in ES trim, which goes for $10,998 with a five-speed manual transmission and $12,198 with an automatic. This is also the second car on our list with crank windows, but only for the rears. To get air (and power windows all around), move up to the ES Plus model for $14,798 with a five-speed manual transmission.
As well as arguably being Canada’s most charming car, the Nissan Micra is also the least expensive, with its starting price of $9,988 in S trim, which gets you neither air conditioning nor any power-operated windows. Both are standard in the $14,288 SV model with a five-speed manual transmission, or you can add an automatic and air to the S for $13,888.
Interestingly, Nissan’s other non-air-conditioned car is not the Versa Note (where it comes standard) but the more expensive Sentra S. Like the Micra, if you want air in a Sentra S, it comes bundled with an automatic transmission for $19,258, a $3,400 bump over the starting price.
The subcompact Yaris hatchback comes without A/C in three-door CE trim and can’t be added as an option. If you want it, get a five-door LE, starting at $16,800 with a five-speed manual transmission.
If you want a non-air-conditioned Toyota with more space and refinement, a Corolla CE with the six-speed manual transmission comes without. If you want an automatic transmission, however, you get A/C too – whether you want it or not – for $20,375, a $3,585 jump from the car’s base price.