Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Visiting Vancouver: A Small Car Owner’s Perspective

The Toyota Yaris is very popular in Vancouver, British Columbia Canada

Mercedes and I took the weekend and drove our Subaru Impreza WRX up to Vancouver, British Columbia for the weekend to visit our goddaughter, who is teaching skiing there during winter break.

It took about five-and-a-half hours to get to B.C., and after crossing the Canadian border, I was on the lookout for cars: Different cars, similar cars, and any other things related to car culture. Almost immediately it became apparent that the Toyota Yaris is incredibly popular. In fact, if Vancouver had an official vehicle, I think it’d have to be the Yaris (and older Echo hatchback, too). They were literally everywhere, in contrast to the U.S. where they're out and about, but hardly ubiquitous. In addition to the Yaris, we noticed there were scads of Honda Fits, numerous Nissan Cubes, and quite a few Suzuki SX4s. And while not small, we saw an incredible amount of Porsche Cayennes. Oh, I also saw loads of Mitsubishis. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to know Mitsubishi is struggling in the U.S. by the shear amount of them in Vancouver.

There were some vehicles we saw that are not available in the U.S. We saw plenty of Mercedes-Benz B-class hatchbacks. These baby Benzes look great in person and appear to be very practical. And with 208 hp and 258 lbs./ft. of torque, I’m guessing they move out pretty well. We also spied the Chevrolet Orlando crossover, which also looked really neat. There were a host of right-hand-drive JDM vehicles around, thanks to the fact Canadians can import foreign-market vehicles, so long as they’re over 15 years old (compared to 25 in the U.S.). We spied a lifted 4x4 Mitsubishi Delica van, a turbo-diesel Mitsubishi Pajero, and a Nissan Micra. However, my favorite vehicle I saw there that isn’t available in the U.S. was the new Kia Rondo. In the same sort of class as a Mazda5 and Ford C-Max (although it is not a hybrid), the Rondo has a 104” wheelbase, a 164 hp 2.0-liter engine, and came be had with either a manual or automatic transmission. Plus, they look sharp. While not a subcompact it is a smallish, efficient way to move up to seven people around Canada. And frankly, I love the styling.

Finally, I saw Lamborghinis, Bentleys, Ferraris, a Mercedes SLS AMG, and several souped-up Porches, all within 27 hours—pretty impressive for a day’s visit.

OMG It's Small
Yes, this is a real store. No, it didn't sell small cars (it sells furniture). 
It’s no secret that Canadians will buy smaller vehicles than most of us in the U.S., hence the popularity of the Yaris, Fit, and Cube and the availability of the Mercedes B-Class and Kia Rondo. Vancouver is much more European than most parts of the U.S.; parking seemed to be more at a premium, and everything is closer together than in most U.S. cities, with the exception of places such as New York, for example.

We had an awesome time in Vancouver and will definitely be back, and we’ll again be on the lookout for more of Canada’s cars.

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