The other day, I was walking out of an arena after yet another kid’s hockey practice with a friend of mine. As I recall, we were still talking about his most recent trip to South America, motorcycles and Che Guevara when we came upon a green 4-door Civic. My friend stopped, took a step back as if to examine it carefully, then said with a smile “Let’s see. I think this is mine.” Then laughing, he explained how “a couple of people at work have one exactly the same, and I often don’t realize I’ve got the wrong car until my key gets rejected by the door lock.”

Well, to my buddy JL and all other Civic owners who sometimes have trouble finding their car in a shopping mall parking lot, MSN Autos would like to offer the following words of advice:

Get used to it.

According to a compilation recently released by DesRosiers Automotive Consultants Inc., a total of 863,160 new passenger cars were sold in Canada in 2006, and among them, the Honda Civic was the best-selling single model with a total sales number of 70 028 units. This comes as no big surprise since the Civic has ruled the passenger car roost for the last five years, during which it has surpassed the 60,000 units-per-year mark each time, a number no other single car model has managed to reach even once.

Civic at the summit

Completely redesigned for 2006, the Civic topped its preceding year’s sales number by a scant 2.2 percent. The fact that Civic sales remained relatively at the same level prompts us to offer the two following philosophical conclusions: A) the redesign was well accepted; but B), most people would have probably bought a Civic anyways, basing their purchase on its existing laurels.

Honda Civic

So who are the nine non-winners of the Top Ten Sales List? By cross-referencing DesRosiers’ various categories, we found that the Civic’s 70,028 units were followed by the Mazda3 (47,933), the Toyota Corolla (44,182), the Toyota Yaris (34,202), the Chevrolet Cobalt (31,729), the Toyota Camry (28,039), the Ford Focus (27 718), the Pontiac Pursuit (25,551), the Toyota Matrix (23 536) and the Chevrolet Impala (21,486).

Applying some basic math allows one to truly appreciate the Civic’s performance. If you add the respective sales of the Chevy Cobalt and the Pontiac Pursuit (renamed G5 for 2007), which are basically the same car sold from different showrooms, the combined total comes to 57,280 units, good enough for second place but still well short of the Civic’s winning number.

And while Honda’s and GM’s performances remain noteworthy, Toyota is obviously the preferred manufacturer on the Canadian car buyers’ single-model sales scale, with two models in the Top Five and a total of four in the Top Ten, for an impressive combined sales total of 129,959 units.

But is it better than a truck?

So, the Honda Civic is the best selling passenger car in Canada. But is it also the top selling motor vehicle? Is the Civic more popular than, say, Ford’s legendary full-size pickup truck?

To find out, one must step away from the DesRosiers Automotive Consultants’ Passenger Car listing and consult its Truck compilation (which combines pickups, vans and SUVs, and is covered in a separate article). By perusing the latter, one finds that the top selling truck model in Canada is the Ford F-Series pickup, with total sales of 72,128 units. That beats the Civic’s number by 2,100 units.

Mazda3

If you’re a truck guy, the winner is obvious. But if you identify yourself as a car person, you could argue that Ford’s F-Series includes not only the ever-popular F150 half-ton pickup, but also the more robust F250 (3/4 ton) and F350 (1 ton) models which, from an engineering standpoint, can readily be considered two completely different models.

With names like Civic, Mazda3 and Corolla heading the Top Ten overall best sellers (and the Top 100, for that matter), it’s not surprising to find that the Compact Car group ranks as the overall sales-leading passenger car category. At 402,834 units, compacts win the popularity contest by a huge margin in Canada, outselling the three following categories combined. In fact, compacts account for a whopping 46.7% of the passenger car market according to the DesRosiers compilation, which is essentially one of every two cars sold.

As can be deduced from the above-cited Top Ten list, the Top Five sellers in the Compact Car category are the Civic (70,028 units), the Mazda3 (47,933), the Toyota Corolla (44,182), the Chevrolet Cobalt (31,729) and the Ford Focus (27 718).

The Intermediate solution

Coming in second in sales behind the Compact category are the Intermediate Passenger Cars, with a total of 232,580 units, or 26.9% of all car sales. Behind the Toyota Camry (28,039 units) and the Chevrolet Impala (21,486), both of which made the Top Ten overall list, the Top Five Intermediates also consist of the Honda Accord (20,165), the Pontiac G6 (18,559) and the Chevy Malibu (18,097).

Toyota Corolla

The Camry is a much bigger winner than the numbers tend to indicate, since its 28,039 units sold in 2006 represent a staggering 48.7% increase over the 2005 sales. The fact that the new-generation, 2007 Camry was available early in 2006 surely has a lot to do with the Toyota’s success. The Accord, category leader the preceding four years running but based on a design introduced in 2003, obviously took a hit, yet under the circumstances; its 16.4% decrease in sales is far from catastrophic.

Well, maybe not all of us, and they may not all be yellow, but subcompact cars are definitely on the move in Canada. Third in sales with 102,657 units (11.9% of total), the Subcompact category enjoyed an impressive 19.8% increase in units sold (plus 17,000) in 2006. That is more than twice the growth of any other category, most of which remained relatively stable and all of which showed a less than 10% variation up or down.

The Top Five achievers in the Subcompact category are the Toyota Yaris (34,202 units), the Hyundai Accent (17,784), the Honda Fit (10,634), the Chevrolet Aveo (10,315) and the Pontiac Wave (8,019).

In the lap of luxury

The Luxury Car category ranked fourth in 2006, with 63,238 units sold or 7.3% of the passenger car market. The DesRosiers compilation lists the BMW 3-Series as the top Luxury Car seller, in front of the Chrysler 300. But for some reason, DesRosiers then lists the 300C trim separately, ranking it 8th on the Luxury Car scale. Since the BMW number includes all trims, we feel the Chrysler 300 and 300C sales should also be combined in order to promote accuracy.

Chevrolet Cobalt

So according to our calculations based on the DesRosiers numbers, the Top Five of the Luxury Car category should consist of the Chrysler 300/300C (13,316 units), the BMW 3-Series (10,721), the Audi A4 (4,655), the Infiniti G20/G35 (3,992) and the Cadillac CTS (3,946). If you have been paying attention, you will have noticed that this is the first instance where an American car has emerged as the top seller of a category.

Next in line, we find the High Luxury category with sales of 23,424 units, or 2.7% of total passenger car sales. From 2002 to 2004, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class led this category in front of the Acura TL. In 2005, the order was reversed and in 2006 the Acura came out on top again, but by a very small margin. The TL’s 4,694 units sold edged the C-Class’ 4,603 total by a scant 91 cars. These two models accounted for close to 40% of the High Luxury sales, besting the BMW 5-Series (2,577 units), the Mercedes-Benz E-Class (1,841) and the Cadillac DTS (1,308) on the High Luxury Top Five list.

The sports car scene

Last on our list are the Luxury Sport Cars, with 6,369 units sold in 2006, or 0.7% of the passenger car total. The Top Five consists of the Mazda RX-8 (1,029 units), the Chevrolet Corvette (992), the Porsche 911 (657), the Nissan 350Z (624) and the Chrysler Crossfire (574). The redesign of the 911 apparently paid dividends, as the new version saw its sales jump a healthy 20.3% while its main rivals all experienced significant drops of between 16 and 38%.

Slideshow: The Top 10 Best-Selling cars in Canada

If you are interested in sports cars in the classic sense, you will want to know that the new Pontiac Solstice (1,889 units) outsold the redesigned Mazda MX-5 Miata (1,582) in 2006. Both these models handily beat the winner of the above-cited Top Five Sport Cars, but DesRosiers’ listing buries them in an obscure Sport category that is bested by the Ford Mustang (9,150) and Subaru Impreza (6,155) in all available trim levels, yet also includes the PT Cruiser in convertible trim only (1,509).

This last category seemed very confusing to us as we were researching this article on a cold arena seat during yet another kid’s hockey practice, so we decided to let it slide.

The Top 10 Best-selling cars in Canada

From January 1 to December 31, 2006

1- Honda Civic (70,028)
2- Mazda3 (47,933)
3- Toyota Corolla (44,182)
4- Toyota Yaris (34,202)
5- Chevrolet Cobalt (31,729)
6- Toyota Camry (28,039)
7- Ford Focus (27,718)
8- Pontiac Pursuit (25,551)
9- Toyota Matrix (23,536)
10- Chevrolet Impala (21,486)