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10 Most Popular Compact Cars for 2020

Trucks and SUVs have never been more popular with Canadian consumers. However, when compared to U.S. buyers who like their cars to be larger, when shoppers in this country consider the purchase of a new passenger car, they tend towards the compact segment for many good reasons.


With room for five passengers, a variety of body styles (from hatchbacks to sedans to wagons), powertrains (gas, gas/electric hybrid, electric-only) and equipment levels (from base commuters to entry-level luxury), the 10 most popular compact cars for 2020* offer a lot of value. 


10th place: 2020 Subaru Impreza (1,145 sold) 

As with every new Subaru sold in Canada, even with a starting Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price of $19,995 CDN, the 2020 Subaru Impreza 4-door sedan and $1,000 CDN more expensive 4-door hatchback come with all-wheel-drive standard. Plus, the Impreza is far more than a one-trick pony. A 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine making 152 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque is the lone engine choice, matched to either a 5-speed manual transmission or optional continuously variable automatic (CVT). And the Impreza can be had with Subaru’s laudable EyeSight system of safety and driver-assistance features. 


9th place: 2020 Nissan Sentra (1,164 sold) 

With prices starting at $18,798 CDN, the all-new 8th-generation 2020 Nissan Sentra 4-door sedan receives a sophisticated new exterior that mirrors Nissan's new sedan design language. The Sentra's interior evokes a cockpit-like environment with upscale touches. The front-wheel-drive Nissan punches above its weight class in the safety category, offering Nissan's Safety Shield 360 as standard across all trim levels. Tech isn't an afterthought, either, with excellent connectivity options. The only powertrain is a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine making 149 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque mated to a CVT. 


8th place: 2020 Kia Soul (2,079 sold) 

Since its debut in 2009, the Kia Soul 4-door hatchback has merged sassy style, SUV-esque functionality, a modest price, and a long 5-year/100,000-kilometre comprehensive warranty. All-new for 2020, the front-wheel-drive Kia Soul lineup has diversified. Gas versions—from the thrifty $21,195 CDN LX trim to the sporty $27,595 CDN GT-Line—come with a 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine and CVT combination. The $42,595 CDN Soul EV offers 201 horsepower and 291 pound-feet of torque and 383 kilometres of range. For buyers seeking sensible transportation infused with a healthy dollop of fun, the Soul hits the mark. 


7th place: 2020 Volkswagen Jetta (2,628 sold) 

The front-wheel-drive 2020 Volkswagen Jetta 4-door sedan has never been better. In terms of generation, it’s only one year old, so the technology and safety features are fresh, with driving abilities that are both refined and athletic. Space and comfort are two more strong points. Jetta pricing is also reasonably priced, from the $21,245 CDN Comfortline to the $31,945 CDN GLI sports sedan. Non-GLI Jettas get a 147 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque 1.4-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with a 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic. The GLI brings more power (228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque from a turbo 2.0-litre 4-cylinder) and driver involvement that many rivals can’t quite match. 


6th place: 2020 Mazda Mazda3 (2,686 sold) 

We think the 2020 Mazda3 is its best version yet. With its 2.5-litre 4-cylinder engine that makes 186 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque, taut architecture and excellent steering feel, Mazda’s compact $18,000 CDN 4-door sedan and $21,300 CDN Sport hatchback are made to carve corners. Even more impressive are this new Mazda3’s newfound levels of quiet. It has the hushed ride of a premium car. Available only on the topline $31,500 Sport GT AWD model, Mazda’s predictive i-Activ all-wheel drive is a first for the 3. Offered only with the optional 6-speed automatic transmission (a 6-speed manual is standard in other trims), this traction-enhancing option helps the Mazda3 perform better on wet or snow-covered Canadian roads. 


5th place: 2020 Kia Forte (2,851 sold) 

The new-for-2020 front-wheel-drive 2020 Kia Forte provides a civilized driving experience, including advanced safety features and smartphone integration standard. Starting with the $17,695 LX 4-door sedan or North American-exclusive $22,245 CDN Forte5 EX hatchback model, power comes from a 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine. A 6-speed manual transmission or CVT are available. As well as a healthy amount of muscle (201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque from its 1.6-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and 7-speed automatic), the $28,995 CDN Forte GT Sedan or $27,395 CDN Forte5 GT hatchback gain a more sophisticated multi-link rear suspension instead of the simpler torsion-beam setup found in the other variants. 


4th place: 2020 Volkswagen Golf (3,260 sold) 

An all-new generation is on the way, but the 2020 Volkswagen Golf remains popular. The 4-door Golf still has the unmistakable engineering and understated-yet-functional styling of many high-dollar European brands and high-quality cabin materials. Starting with a 147 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque 1.4-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, the VW compact is also affordable (the hatchback starts at $22,570 CDN), practical (the $24,400 Sportwagen) luxurious (the all-wheel-drive $31,200 Alltrack) and electric (the $37,895 e-Golf). The 228 horsepower $30,845 CDN GTI has plenty of driver appeal, while the $42,495 CDN Golf R with 288 horsepower is an AWD wolf in sheep’s’ clothing. 


3rd place: 2020 Hyundai Elantra (4,401 sold) 

After a substantial makeover in 2019, there are even more improvements to the 2020 Hyundai Elantra this year. The front-wheel-drive Elantra 4-door competes well by emphasizing luxury and safety aspects, generous standard equipment, styling influenced by upscale cars, plus a 5-year/100,000-kilometre warranty. Pricing starts at $17,149 for the 4-door sedan; the GT hatchback is $3,600 CDN more. Both are powered by a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder with 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque. For more power, the $20,749 CDN Elantra GT hatchback brings 161 horses, while the $25,595 CDN Sport sedan $27,249 CDN GT N Line enjoy 201 from a turbocharged 1.6-litre 4-cylinder engine. 


2nd place: 2020 Toyota Corolla (7,818 sold) 

After launching an all-new 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback last fall, Toyota has migrated the Corolla 4-door sedan to a slightly longer version of the hatch’s platform for 2020.  Pricing starts at $18,990 CDN for the Corolla L sedan; the Hatchback begins at $20,980 CDN. Two 4-cylinder engines are available; a 1.8-litre with 139 horsepower and 126 pound-feet of torque, and a 2.0-litre with 169 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. A 6-speed manual or a CVT are transmission options. For the first time, there is a Corolla Hybrid model in sedan form only that mates the smaller engine to an electric motor and a battery pack combining for 121 horsepower and 105 pound-feet of torque. 


1st place: 2020 Honda Civic (9,016 sold) 

As Canada’s most popular passenger car (compact or otherwise), the 2020 Honda Civic offers a wide variety of body styles (coupe, sedan, and hatchback), trims and powertrains. Models span from the sensible $17,390 CDN 4-door Sedan LX to the $43,690 Type R 4-door hot hatchback. The mildly sporty $29,290 Si 2-door Coupe and Sedan slide in between. A range of 4-cylinder engines, from the 158 horsepower base engine to the 306 horsepower Type R, are available. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard in lower trims, replaced by a CVT higher up the pecking order. Now standard in every 2020 Civic (except the Type R) is an array of driver aids, including forward-collision mitigation with automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, road-departure mitigation, and automatic high beams. 


*Vehicle sales based on manufacturer-supplied information between January 1 and March 31,


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