Compared to the historic drop in sales during 2020, a little more than a year after COVID-19 arrived in Canada, new vehicle sales are on the rise again, and trucks continue to lead the way.
Despite continuing supply chain disruptions, such as the lack of semiconductor chips causing auto plants to shut down intermittently, overall new vehicle sales in Canada between January 1 and March 31 this year were up on a year-over-year (YOY) basis by 15.6% to 318,384 cars, trucks, vans and SUVs sold, according to the Automotive News Research and Data Center.
Within these segments, Canadians continue to favour trucks and SUVs. Passenger car sales were down 7.8% to only 65,951 units sold, while truck and SUV sales were up 22.0% to 318,384 copies sold.
After all the numbers were tallied up, these were the 10 best-selling new pickup trucks in Canada for the first quarter of 2021*:
10th place: Jeep Gladiator
Canadians seem to like the Jeep Gladiator’s unique value proposition. There are other mid-size pickup trucks with off-road talents, like the Toyota Tacoma. But nothing else is based on the super-capable Jeep Wrangler SUV. Nor can any other truck come with a convertible top. The result? Gladiator sales were up 64.5% YOY to 1,189 copies sold during the first three months of 2021.
9th place: Toyota Tundra
Along with the Nissan Titan (which sold only 95 units in the first quarter of 2021), the Toyota Tundra continues to struggle to make inroads with full-size pickup truck buyers. Tundra sales between January 1 and March 31, 2021, were down 26.9% YOY to only 1,548 copies sold in a truck market that mainly recorded sales gains. It doesn’t help Toyota that amongst a fresher set of rivals, the current 2nd-generation Tundra has not been completely redesigned since 2008.
8th place: GMC Canyon
For 2021, the GMC Canyon has had its trim level names revised. Last year’s SL, SLE, SLT, and Denali mix has been replaced with Elevation Standard, Elevation, AT4, and Denali. The name changes seemed to have worked. GMC’s mid-size pickup truck saw the most significant annual percentage increase among the 10 top-selling pickup trucks. YOY sales in Canada for the Canyon were up 134% to 1,648 copies sold during the first quarter of 2021.
7th place: Chevrolet Colorado
The mid-size pickup truck market is teeming with worthy contenders, but the 2021 Chevrolet Colorado checks off more boxes than most when it comes to truck form and function. Although not posting as impressive annual sales gains as its GMC Canyon platform-mate, the Chevrolet Colorado found more homes in Canada than its General Motors' sibling during the first three months of 2021. Colorado sales were up an impressive 63.4% YOY, totalling 1,956 units sold.
6th place: Ford Ranger
After a seven-year hiatus, the Ford Ranger returned for the 2019 model year. Compared to some of its rivals, the Ford mid-size pickup truck keeps things reasonably simple. It only has one engine/transmission combination, two cab sizes, and two bed lengths with limited configurations. But that simplicity continues to resonate with Canadian buyers. For the first three months of 2021, Ford sold 2,098 Rangers, up 23.2% compared to the same period last year.
5th place: Toyota Tacoma
The Toyota Tacoma continued in the first quarter of 2021 as the best-selling mid-size truck in Canada. There are good reasons for this, namely Tacoma’s reputation for high quality and high resale value. However, based on a YOY basis, Tacoma sales were down 8.6% between the start of January and the end of March, to just 2,475 units sold.
4th place: Chevrolet Silverado 1500
In a very competitive truck market, the Silverado 1500 full-size pickup truck continues to up its game. Improvements for 2021 include a multi-function tailgate, enhanced towing capacity, upgraded tech (like wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto), and Adaptive Ride Control suspension on top-line models. Canadian buyers have responded, with Silverado 1500 sales up 29.6% YOY with 14,478 units sold for the first quarter of 2021.
5th place: GMC Sierra 1500
Fresh off a recent redesign, the 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 is a capable and alluring choice for Canadian full-size pickup truck buyers. Though it has similar underpinnings and powertrain choices as its Chevrolet Silverado 1500 sibling, the GMC truck touts more premium flair and design differences. And its sales reflect this difference. For the first three months of 2021, 16,670 Sierras were sold, up 41.1% on a YOY basis.
2nd place: Ram 1500
Against the Ford F150 and General Motors’ Silverado/Sierra twins, the 2021 Ram 1500 pickup more than holds its own. It’s a handsome full-size pickup truck, and it’s far more modern (inside and out) than the Toyota Tundra or Nissan Titan. So far, in 2021, the Ram 1500 truck continues to hold its appeal with plenty of Canadian buyers. Sales for the first three months of 2021 totalled 21,367 units, up 11.4% compared to the same period in 2020.
1st place: Ford F150
With sales up 6.0% YOY to 30,238 copies sold, the Ford F150 retains its best-selling vehicle in Canada crown for the first quarter of 2021. Still, Ford continues to add strength to its F150 full-size pickup truck. For 2021, the F150 is essentially all-new. Ford updated the styling and redesigned the interior, which now features a new infotainment system and more work and storage solutions. There’s also a new gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain option with the availability of an onboard generator, and the automaker has updated almost every engine in the lineup.
*Vehicle sales based on manufacturer-supplied information between January 1 and March 31 31, 2021.