Moved to Canada: Need advice on buying a small & reliable SUV

Not considering the pre-owned route because of the crazy prices with price differences that barely cover the cost of replacing wear and tear items like tyres.

BHPian FloatingCanvas recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Hi team,

I moved to Canada 6 months ago and am looking to buy a new car and seek your valuable inputs to pick the right car.

I’d prefer a small SUV with AWD that is reliable and has low running costs. Since I will be retaining the car for minimum of 5 years, I’d like some decent interiors and feature set as well, instead of an absolute barebones one.


  • On road price including insurance: 50k CAD
  • Including financing cost: ~ 60k CAD

Not considering the pre-owned route because of the crazy prices with price differences that barely cover the cost of replacing wear and tear items like tyres.


  • Average annual running for first two years: 50k – 60k km
  • Usage: 60% highway usage + 20% suburbs + 20% downtown traffic
  • Frequent stops: The sub-urban and city usage will involve frequent stops

After the first 2 years:

  • Average annual running: 25k-30k km
  • Usage: 40% highway usage + 60% sub-urbs

My must haves:

  • AWD
  • Reliable
  • Lower running costs
  • Comfortable seating
  • Decent interiors and features, not absolutely barebones
  • Preference for mileage over performance – am a sedate driver
  • Reverse Parking camera
  • Adaptive Cruise Control

Nice to haves:

  • 360 degree camera
  • Sunroof – Panoramic would be great
  • Good boot space
  • Android Auto

Should I get a Hybrid for the better mileage or stick with petrol engines?

The average cost of a hybrid engine is about 3K CAD and gives about 40% better mileage for my usage. Toyota Hybrid system is said to be more tested and reliable than others in the price bracket, but that is typical of Toyota. The marginal increase in monthly EMIs for a Hybrid are almost off-set by the lower insurance rates they get, even without the fuel savings.

I’d like to know of the downsides of getting a Hybrid in a 2023 model, given my use case – like the additional long term maintenance costs, if any.

Please find below the cars I am considering right now, in descending order of cost (EMI+Insurance+Petrol Expenses):

*all prices/costs are in CAD *Hyundai model prices include cost of extended warranty (6 year/120,000 km)

Hyundai Tucson:


  • Excellent set of features, that makes it super VFM even though the Hybrid Ultimate is slightly above my price budget ceiling.
  • Driver assist features – blind spot views on turn indicators, especially.
  • The hybrid offers decent power and good mileage ~ 15 Kmpl. The N-Line offers punchy performance with decent mileage ~ 10 Kmpl.
  • Huge panoramic sunroof.


  • The exterior look. I much preferred the 2018 model look. But not a deal breaker since it is slowly growing on me.
  • The all touch interface in the cabin. No buttons or knobs for even AC operation or volume control. Even with the controls on the steering wheel, I’d have much preferred some physical buttons and knobs.
  • All the features bundled in makes me worry about the potential issues down the lane. And none of them cheap to replace.
  • Came across some reports of the 2022 Hybrid model breaking down due to transmission issues, where the vehicle loses power and comes to a crawl out of the blue, and works properly after some time. While the warranty on offer is quite comprehensive, it would still mean weeks at the workshop. Leaves a lingering apprehension.
  • Lower resale value than the other models.

Mazda CX-5:


  • Fantastic engine that is time tested and one of the most reliable engines in the market here, according to several friends here.
  • Love the understated looks and timeless design.
  • Feels like a hatch while driving – masks the size very well.
  • Interiors feel better put together than the competition at the same price point


  • No hybrid available.
  • The ICE screen has no touch at all. Instead, there’s a joystick-cum-rotary dial that is used to interact with the screen. I’d have liked to have basic touch responses along with the joystick. This is another extreme compared to the only touch interface of Tucson.
  • Reversing camera has okayish resolution and no dynamic guidelines.
  • Limited driver assist features .

Toyota RAV4:


  • Well, IT’S A TOYOTA. That seems to be the market sentiment as well. But the reliability and resale value of this is second to none in the market.
  • The LE AWD Hybrid version checks almost all my requirements with a function over form approach.


  • The interiors feel one or even two classes below the Hyundai and Mazda’s interiors.
  • Limited set of features, and not many options to customize the interiors unless I move up the trim
  • The VFM factor would be much lower compared to other options here. But the reliability and resale value drown out such arguments.
  • Huge demand and with it comes longer waiting periods than any other option here.
  • While I don’t crave exclusivity, this model is the WagonR of Canada. Everywhere, at all times.

Toyota Venza:


  • Beautiful looking car that is a class above the rest of cars I’m considering.
  • Checks all my requirements.
  • I would probably retain this car much longer than the others because of the size and comfort. Gadgetry aside, I’d be set for a decade with this.


  • The most expensive option in my list, and it’s pretty much the base version.
  • While I find the exteriors of this car to be the best of all cars in the list, the interiors of the Tucson Ultimate Hybrid are much better and offer so much more in terms of features.

Honda CR-V:


  • Good engine, good reliability.
  • Comfortable interiors, good looking car on the outside.
  • Has a decent set of features that covers all my requirements.
  • Good resale value.


  • Overpriced, plain and simple. Pricing on par with one level higher trim of competition.
  • One of the most stolen cars in Canada. Would need to take additional precautions every time I park it outside.

Kia Seltos:


  • Tremendous VFM.
  • Good set of features.
  • Meets most of my requirements.


  • I feel it’s not as solidly built as the rest of the cars on the list.
  • Poor resale value.
  • Good number of thefts happen of this vehicle as well, though not as much of Honda CR-V.

Had considered Subaru Forester AWD as well, but while it is a rugged car, the long term maintenance cost is higher than these other cars.

Given that these are my feelings about these cars, would appreciate your input on choosing the right car for my use case.

Thanks in advance for your valuable inputs.

Here’s what BHPian sumobom4 had to say on the matter:

Having owned the Mazda CX5 and the Honda CR-V, I think I can answer this. Like you said, the Mazda punches well above its price point and has luxurious interiors. It is a pure driver’s car even if you drive at sedate speeds. As for the infotainment, the reason there’s no touch is to ensure there’s minimal distraction while driving. I had also felt the same when I got mine, and I got used to the joystick within a week. It’s very intuitive and don’t forget to program your favourites as you see fit. Ownership was absolutely trouble free and when it was time to upgrade, the only car that felt right was the BMW X3! Even the Merc GLC couldn’t match up according to me!

Incidentally I had upgraded (yes, you read that right) to the CX5 from the CR-V. It was a nice vehicle and very comfortable. The puny 1.5 turbo worries me for a large country like Canada where the distances are long, though. I had the 2.4 NA which was very smooth and did the job in a manner that was less exciting than the Mazda, but not as “shoot me in the head” boring as the Toyota.

All in all, on an enthusiast forum like this, you are far more likely to be recommended a car that gives you driving pleasure. But at the end of the day, it’s you putting down your hard earned money on it. So, go for what makes you smile every time you sit behind the wheel, makes you look back at it when you park and walk away! The heart over mind choice makes sense for a T-Bhp member.

Here’s what BHPian shancz had to say on the matter:

Nice change of landscape fellow RTR rider

While I haven’t been there my recommendation would be to get something which you wouldn’t be able to get back home.

Also consider a strong and safe car considering the average speeds and the general icy conditions.

Applicable safety ratings/NCAP should also be in your consideration.

That would rule out the Seltos and to an extent the Tucson and put the Mazda at the forefront. Why not explore the VWs too, good FNGs should be available ? Any particular reason to get only SUVs ?
I have driven the Mazda 5 SkyActive and that’s a good car but I preferred the Jetta over it, just a personal preference during that time but the Mazda was a close second.

Here’s what BHPian MunnabhaiMBBS had to say on the matter:

Where are you in Canada?

Speaking of Toronto, RAV4 Hybrid has a waiting period of ~1 year. CRV ~8 Months. CX-5 ~ 6-8 Months. Crosstrek ~ 6 months.

The current interest rate is ~7% upwards as a direct result of Govt’s effort of controlling the inflation. It is bound to get lower by the end of the year.

Basis the estimated usage in KMs, you are most likely to be out of warranty within the first two years only. Ask yourself if you are mentally/financially prepared for the out of pocket repair expenses after 2 years.

Agreed, Toyota/Honda engines/GB are dependable but vehicles are not just about engines and GBs anymore.

Lease a el cheapo vehicle which ticks your basic requirements for a year or two. Save money and buy your desired car once the waiting period and interest rates cool down.

If leasing, push them to put maximum into the residual value so that you can lower your EMI unless you are buying it out at the end of the leasing period.

On the other hand, Ford, Jeep, GMC etc. are available immediately.

Here’s what BHPian infotech58 had to say on the matter:

Where in Canada are you located?

Some of your observations about interior are subjective to the trim you select (say RAV4 Trail/Limited has similar interior to CX-5 Signature; but LE is sub par).

I own a 2022 Mazda CX-5 Signature and it has two drawbacks (if those matter to you): rear seat space (best suited for 2 adults, and slightly tight fit for rear facing child seat), and fuel efficiently (best I got so far was 8.5L/100km on a 2000km road trip, usual is around 10.5-11L/100km with mix of city/highway). I suspect that the non turbo engine has similar fuel efficiency numbers too.

Additionally, very recently I test drove (extensively) 2019/2020 RAV4 (non hybrid), 2019/2020 CR-V, and 2020 Subaru Forester to help a friend pick up a used car. Following were the observations (which may still apply true to 2023 model year):

RAV4 felt most refined and will probably be lowest cost to maintain (no turbo engine, and regular 8 speed AT (no CVT). This is what he ended up buying (paid $36.5k + tax and the vehicle had 47k on ODO). Fuel Efficiency (mix of city and highway) has been around 8.8L/100km (may improve a bit in summer months).

CRV had the most amount of interior space but was least refined to drive. That 1.5 turbo engine is known to have excessive oil dilution issues (which, as some people claim, has not been fixed even in newer CRV)

Forester had best visibility and quality of interior but it was almost impossible to smoothly drive that car in stop and go traffic (transmission is tuned to make it feel punchy to mask the lack of power/speed).

Finally, it is not impossible to find a vehicle in stock and skip the waitlist if you are willing to pay little over MSRP. I bought two vehicles in last 8 months and waited for 3 days to pick up an in stock 2022 CX-5 Signature (traded in my 2020 CX-5 Signature) and around 3 weeks to pick up a 2023 Kia Telluride SX-Limited. In both cases I paid around $1,000 over MSRP (got accessories for that price) and did not have to wait 6-12 months with a reservation. In both cases I cold called more than a dozen or so dealerships to see who has ready/incoming stock and whether or not they are willing to sell without prior reservation.

Here’s what BHPian landruiser123 had to say on the matter:

For the kind of running you are expecting, I would buy the RAV4 hybrid for the cost savings alone – insurance + fuel savings. Heard from Chicago Uber and Taxi drivers that Toyota Hybrids (post 2012) easily last 200-250k miles (320k + km) without major issues. (There are low cost battery replacements from junkyards that you can get done afterwards). A more premium option will be the Venza (If you don’t like being seen in a RAV4).

I have not driven the Tucson, but Mazda CX-5 over everything else – feels premium and an absolute joy to drive. Seltos is a class below – avoid it, especially if you are going to put many miles on the car.

Here’s what BHPian Turbanator had to say on the matter:

If you are in GTA the number one worry currently should be on how to ensure car remains with you. My sister’s-in-law Highlander was taken from their driveway in less than a week of ownership. And our own LX which my wife parks at a subway parking was almost taken. Per chance wife reached early that day and the guy ran away on seeing her, leaving bumper dislodged.

Consider something that comes with connected drive features I.e you can track and control your car. Tesla is something that comes to my mind for you even though their models are priced higher. You don’t need an AWD if snow is on your mind. Just the snow tyres work especially on electric vehicles like a Model 3.

If you must stick with an suv, RAV or Highlander are perfect based on the number of seats you will be using or otherwise just on the size. But do ensure whatever you pick comes with an additional connected feature directly from the manufacturer.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.


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