After 2020’s historic collapse due to the COVID pandemic, the Canadian new vehicle market has slowly clawed back much of that lost volume a year later. Despite ongoing parts shortages from semiconductor chips to seat foam to rubber, pent-up demand for new cars, trucks and SUVs for the first three months of 2021 saw impressive year-over-year (YOY) sales gains.
One segment that is seeing explosive recovery sales figures this year is luxury vehicles. Nine out of the 10 most popular new luxury vehicles sold in Canada so far in 2021* saw YOY sales gains, some in triple digits.
9th place (Tie): Acura MDX
The MDX has been around since 2001, and this mid-size 3-row luxury SUV has been a consistent solid seller for Acura. Honda’s luxury brand gave its MDX a year off (there was no 2021 model) and concentrated on crafting an all-new 4th-generation model that went on sale this February and is better in multiple ways. Canadian buyers have responded, purchasing 1,264 units so far this year, up 161.2% compared to the same period in 2020.
9th place (Tie): BMW X3
The BMW X3 is the German luxury brand’s 5-passenger compact luxury SUV, slotting below the mid-size X5 and above the sub-compact X1. Think of the X3 as the SUV version of the 3 Series compact luxury sedan. These days the SUV outsells the sedan. Part of a more significant shift in luxury buyer preference from cars to utility vehicles, 1,264 X3s were sold in the first quarter of 2021 (up 6.7% YOY), versus 898 copies of the 3 Series (up 18.8%).
8th place: Chrysler Pacifica
Marketed above its less expensive Grand Caravan minivan platform-mate, the Pacifica carves out its niche as a luxurious people mover. Pacifica sales were up 112.8% YOY, with 1,434 units sold through to the end of March this year. The availability of all-wheel-drive and a plug-in hybrid variant (the only such vehicle in its segment, the Pacifica Hybrid can travel up to 51 kilometres on battery power alone) are unique. For 2021, a new range-topping Pinnacle trim arrived.
7th place: Lexus NX
The 2021 Lexus NX compact luxury SUV comes with a long list of standard features, decent interior space, competitive pricing, and an impeccable reputation for reliability. The 5-passenger NX is available with either a turbocharged 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine or a hybrid with a 2.5-litre gasoline engine paired with two electric motors. That’s a compelling list of why NX sales are up 11.4% for the first three months of 2021, with 1,456 units sold.
6th place: Acura RDX
The 2021 Acura RDX has never been better. And with sales up 12.7% YOY, to 1,559 copies sold, Canadian luxury vehicle buyers seem to agree. Over three generations, the RDX compact luxury SUV has evolved into an attractive package that includes value for money, excellent safety features, practicality, dependability, an athletic yet comfortable ride, and yes, even some road presence. Sticking with the usual 2-row/5-passenger formula means the RDX also offers plenty of space for travellers and their trappings.
5th place: Mercedes-Benz GLC
Using the excellent C-Class compact luxury sedan as its foundation, the Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class compact luxury SUV has more refinement than some competitors, and its luxury offerings are unsurpassed. The ride is stable but not jarring, and the handling of even the entry-level version is more than satisfactory for most buyers. The 5-passenger GLC also offers a wide choice of models and features. While still popular, GLC sales so far in 2021 are down 10.29% YOY to 1,595 units sold.
4th place: Mercedes-Benz GLE
With sales of 1,697 units (up 6.3%) for the first three months of 2021, the latest generation of Mercedes-Benz’s 5-passenger mid-size luxury SUV enters its sophomore year with some big news. Namely, two new Mercedes-AMG models have arrived. These include the 429-horsepower Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 and the 603-horsepower GLE, 63 S. With these new models, plus the standard GLE 350 (255-hp), and GLE 450 (362-hp), the GLE ranges from practical and safe everyday machines to bold pulse-quickeners.
3rd place: Audi Q3
The Audi Q3 is the German luxury brand’s smallest SUV. Revamped just two years ago, this 2nd-generation Q3 brings bold design, innovative technology, and excellent fit and finish. The 5-passenger Q3 stands out with its standard quattro AWD system and a long list of included features. The Audi sub-compact SUV’s sales continue to be robust, with 1,727 copies sold so far in 2021—a healthy 36.8% gain over the same period in 2020.
2nd place: Lexus RX
The Lexus RX remains one of the most desirable mid-size luxury SUVs in Canada. The Lexus SUV excels in the areas of quality, reliability, and resale. The RX 450h hybrid achieves impressive fuel economy. At the same time, the longer L version (which rides on the same wheelbase) adds a small but viable 3rd-row seat, increasing passenger capacity to seven. RX sales are up 5.6% for the first three months of 2021, with 1,780 copies sold.
1st place: Audi Q5
With sales up 37.4% YOY to 1,947 units sold, the Audi Q5 was the best-selling luxury vehicle in Canada for the first quarter of 2021, and for many good reasons. This 5-passenger compact luxury SUV has an excellent blend of amenities, practicality, features, and great driving manners. For 2021, the Audi Q5 has been further improved with a mid-cycle refresh that gives it more standard power, added active safety features, and enhanced technology.
*Vehicle sales based on manufacturer-supplied information between January 1 and March 31 31, 2021.