Skip to main content

Buying a new vehicle is just the start of being able to afford it. On top of the manufacturer’s list price, there are the extra fees and taxes and the price of financing, and then there’s the cost of maintenance, repairs, fuel and insurance. After all those, there’s the depreciation: a vehicle that holds its value better will cost less in its lifetime.

Each month, the research firm Vincentric tallies all those costs over an anticipated five years of ownership, and applies them to almost every vehicle sold in Canada, as part of a database it supplies to automotive clients. Every year, it uses this data to name the country’s best automotive values.

“We’re catering to a very analytical group,” says Vincentric president David Wurster. “Some people think they got a good deal because the price was low, but we have many instances of vehicles that are priced low, but have a higher cost of ownership than vehicles that are priced higher. They’re looking at the wrong metric, from our perspective.”

Vincentric also considers “opportunity costs,” which are the interest earnings that could have been generated if that vehicle’s out-of-pocket expenses had been invested in a savings account.

The firm separates its rankings into five vehicle categories, and there are some standout vehicles among the winners in those categories. For 2021, the big winner is Toyota/Lexus, with top-placed vehicles in 12 of the 33 possible model categories. It’s also electric vehicles in general, with three of the five best-in-category winners being EVs.

These are the most highly scored models in each vehicle category:

Passenger car

Mazda MX-5 (Sports car)
Open this photo in gallery:

2020 Mazda MX-5brendan mcaleer/The Globe and Mail

The little MX-5, still called the Miata in the United States, has won the Vincentric title six times. Its cost of ownership over the next five years is projected to be 9 per cent better than expected, thanks partly to having the lowest insurance cost, the lowest maintenance cost and the lowest operating costs in its class.

  • Base price: $33,200
  • Engine: 2.0-litre inline-four, 181 hp, 151 lb-ft
  • Transmission/Drive: 6-speed manual or automatic / RWD
  • Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 9.0 City, 6.6 Hwy. (automatic)
Other category winners by class:
  • Kia Rio (Subcompact): The least expensive vehicle on the list, the five-door Kia Rio starts at $17,295.
  • Honda Civic (Compact): The Civic has been Canada’s best-selling passenger car for more than two decades and is built in Alliston, Ont. The 11th-generation of the model will be introduced this summer.
  • Volkswagen Golf (Compact Hatchback): Volkswagen started making the Golf in 1974, and it’s now in its eighth generation.
  • Honda Accord (Mid-size): Now in its 10th generation, the Accord is one of the best-selling passenger cars in the United States.
  • Toyota Avalon (Large sedan): This is the eighth Vincentric win for the Avalon, which was redesigned for its fifth generation in 2018.
  • Toyota Corolla Hybrid (Hybrid): The already reliable and fuel-efficient Corolla is made even more frugal with its hybrid engine, a $1,400 option to the regular mid-grade model.
  • Kia Soul EV (Electric / PHEV): Already in its second generation, the fully-electric Kia Soul starts at $42,995 in Canada before rebates.

Luxury car

Audi e-tron (Luxury electric / PHEV)
Open this photo in gallery:

Audi e-tron GTThe Associated Press

The fully-electric e-tron has been sold in Canada for the past two years, with a base price of $85,600. Its total cost of ownership was a huge 21 per cent better than expected, with the lowest maintenance costs, and the lowest depreciation rate and highest resale value in its class.

  • Base price: $85,600
  • Motor: Two asynchronous electric motors, 402 hp, 490 lb-ft.
  • Drive: AWD
  • Electric range: 357 km
Other winners by class:
  • BMW 3 Series (Luxury compact): The mainstay of BMW’s lineup, selling almost one in three of all the German maker’s four-wheeled vehicles, the 3 Series has been produced since 1975. Its seventh generation was introduced in 2018.
  • Audi A5 (Luxury coupe): One of the youngest “traditional” models on the Vincentric list, the A5 was introduced in 2007 and is now in just its second generation.
  • Lexus ES Series (Luxury mid-size sedan): Lexus vehicles have a reputation for reliability and resale value, which has helped the ES win this class five times.
  • Lexus LS Series (Luxury large sedan): The big LS, which starts at $104,750, is less expensive to buy than its German competitors.
  • Volvo V60 (Luxury wagon): There aren’t many wagons still available in Canada, but the Volvo V60 is one of the least expensive from a luxury maker, starting at $46,900.
  • Audi R8 (Luxury sports car): The R8 is the most expensive vehicle of the Vincentric winners, starting at $167,800 and rising rapidly with engines and options, but it has an established record of reliability and resale value.
  • BMW Z4 (Luxury convertible): Not much larger than the Mazda MX-5, which won the title for non-luxury convertibles, the $63,200 Z4 is now in its third generation.
  • Lexus ES Series Hybrid (Luxury hybrid): This is the ninth win for the venerable ES Hybrid, which has claimed the class title every year since it debuted in Canada in 2013.

SUV, crossover and van

Hyundai Kona EV (Electric / PHEV SUV/crossover)
Open this photo in gallery:

Hyundai KonaCourtesy of manufacturer

The all-electric version of Hyundai’s popular Kona SUV starts at $44,999, which is just under the federal government’s $50,000 limit for offering a $5,000 rebate. Its total cost of ownership was 12 per cent better than expected, with the most efficient fuel economy in its class.

  • Base price: $44,999
  • Motor: Single synchronous electric motor, 201 hp, 290 lb-ft.
  • Drive: AWD
  • Electric range: 415 km
Other winners by class:
  • Maxda CX-30 (Subcompact SUV/crossover): The CX-30 was introduced last year. It’s slightly larger than the Mazda CX-3 and costs about $3,000 more, so its Vincentric award reflects its greater appeal and projected resale value.
  • Jeep Wrangler (Compact SUV/crossover): The Wrangler has one of the highest resale values of all Canadian vehicles, bringing down its long-term cost significantly.
  • Subaru Outback (Mid-size SUV/crossover): Subaru’s long-established Outback is about $2,000 more costly than its Forester stablemate, but holds its value well and has a reputation for reliability.
  • Toyota Sequoia (Large SUV/crossover): The big Sequoia is basically unchanged since its current generation was introduced in 2007, but its reliability and predictability has helped it win the Vincentric class award eight times.
  • Toyota RAV4 Hybrid (Hybrid SUV/crossover): The hybrid version of Toyota’s top-selling RAV4 is made in Ontario and has been a challenge to find at dealerships over the last year, after the Cambridge assembly plant was closed by COVID-19 precautions.
  • Toyota Sienna (Minivan): Toyota’s minivan is reliable and holds its value well. In 2021, an all-new generation debuted with a hybrid powertrain.

Luxury SUV and crossover

Volvo XC40 EV (Luxury electric SUV/crossover)
Open this photo in gallery:

2021 Volvo XC40 RechargePetrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

Volvo says it will sell only fully-electric vehicles by 2030, and debuted the XC40 Recharge SUV just last year. Its total cost of ownership after five years was calculated as 12 per cent better than expected, due partly to having the lowest projected operating costs and most efficient fuel economy in its class, as well as the lowest maintenance costs.

  • Base price: $64,950
  • Motor: Twin electric motors, 402 hp, 486 lb-ft.
  • Drive: AWD
  • Electric range: 335 km
Other winners by class:
  • Lexus UX Series (Luxury compact SUV/crossover): It’s the reputation for reliability, which creates a better resale value, that helps the little Lexus win its class.
  • Lexus RX Series (Luxury mid-size SUV/crossover): The RX crossover is built in Ontario at one of Toyota’s two plants in Cambridge.
  • Lincoln Navigator (Luxury large SUV/crossover): The big Lincoln debuted in 1998 and is now in its fourth generation.
  • Lexus NX Series Hybrid (Luxury hybrid SUV/crossover): The hybrid powertrain is a popular option for Lexus’s compact NX crossover. Its non-premium counterpart, the RAV4 Hybrid, won its own Vincentric class.


Toyota Tacoma (Small/mid-size pickup)
Open this photo in gallery:

2018 Toyota TacomaMichael Engelmeyer/The Associated Press

The Tacoma is the only mid-size truck to ever win this title, having claimed the top spot for all 10 years of the Vincentric awards’ existence. It should cost 7 per cent less than expected to own for five years, with the best fuel economy, and lowest maintenance and operating costs in its class.

  • Base price: $38,350
  • Engine: 3.5-litre V6, 278 hp, 265 lb-ft.
  • Transmission/Drive: 6-speed manual or automatic / AWD
  • Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 13.0 City, 10.5 Hwy.
Other winners by class:
  • Ford F-150 (Full-size ½-tonne pickup): This is the ninth Vincentric win for the best-selling vehicle in North America, and its seventh consecutive win.
  • GMC Sierra 2500 (Full-size ¾-tonne pickup): GMC’s heavy-duty truck holds its value well, starting new at $46,448.
  • GMC Sierra 3500 (Full-size 1-tonne pickup): The largest vehicle on the Vincentric awards list, the biggest Sierra starts at just $2,000 more than its class-winning ¾-tonne stablemate.

Shopping for a new car? Check out the Globe Drive Build and Price Tool to see the latest discounts, rebates and rates on new cars, trucks and SUVs. Click here to get your price.

Follow related authors and topics

Authors and topics you follow will be added to your personal news feed in Following.

Interact with The Globe