2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible
2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS convertible, photo by Grant Yoxon. Click image to enlarge

Originally published June 29, 2012

Article by Jonathan Yarkony

1. Chevrolet Camaro
You knew this one was going to be on the list, of course. While we likely would have had the Camaro on the list even based on its previous incarnations being produced in Quebec, there is no question that the resurrected Camaro, built in Oshawa, Ontario, is one of the greatest vehicle ever to be exported from Canada. With show-car looks, affordable pricing, and a range of engines from a competent V6 to the fire-breathing ZL1 with a 6.2L supercharged V8, the Camaro is the people’s sports car. That ZL1, though, is for people that want a lot of power—580 hp, 556 lb-ft of torque, 0–96 km/h in 3.9 seconds, and with a claimed top speed of 297 km/h. This car is epic.

2012 Chrysler 300S V6
2012 Chrysler 300S V6, photo by Greg Wilson. Click image to enlarge

2. Chrysler 300
While some might point to the top-trim 300 SRT8 or Hemi-packing 300C, the entire history of the 300 is impressive. Like the Camaro, it also made it into production looking like a concept car, but in this case, a very different aesthetic. Its bluff, upright sides, squared-off look, and narrow, “gun-slit” windows evoked an instant gangster credibility and made it the darling of everyone from rap video producers and hip automotive tuners to suburban families. The latest model even features a quality interior and reasonably efficient V6 and eight-speed auto combination that have helped it regain some if its lost popularity. Also produced alongside it in Brampton, Ontario are the Dodge Charger sedan and Dodge Challenger Coupe, though neither of those has left the same mark on popular culture as the instantly iconic 300.

2010 Ford Flex EcoBoost
2010 Ford Flex EcoBoost, photo by Paul Williams. Click image to enlarge

3. Ford Flex
Although its super-cool (does using the phrase “super-cool” make me instantly a tool? Sorry about that…) boxy looks earn it second looks everywhere it goes, the Ford Flex is, as its name implies, a flexible and practical family vehicle. With seating for six or seven, the Flex can compete with affordable minivans with a starting price under $30K, but spec it up and you can get Ford’s excellent Ecoboost V6 with 355 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque and all the luxury trimmings like entertainment system, navigation, and a blind-spot warning system. Impressively it handles better than any minivan and most crossovers with its car-like handling. I also have a soft spot for it because Ford loaned me one for my wedding weekend out in the Rockies, and it served our families and the occasion dutifully.

2012 Acura MDX Elite
2012 Acura MDX Elite, photo by Jonathan Yarkony. Click image to enlarge

4. Acura MDX
Forget about best vehicle made in Canada, the Acura MDX might have been the best SUV on the market for a while there. It may be getting a little long in the tooth now, but it’s still one of the best-handling seven-seaters thanks to its innovative Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive. Acura’s SH-AWD was the first system to introduce torque vectoring, which sends extra power to one-specific wheel in order to help a vehicle power through a corner, a system which has become de rigeur in luxury AWD circles these days. While others have caught up in dynamic ability, there are still few options that combine its mix of luxury, sport, and practicality for such a reasonable price.

2012 Dodge Grand Caravan
2012 Dodge Grand Caravan, photo by Jonathan Yarkony. Click image to enlarge

5. Dodge Grand Caravan
This is another one of those vehicles that gets in on sympathy and engineering innovation and excellence. There aren’t many that will claim this is a thrilling vehicle, but for every person that buys a Camaro, there are probably a dozen that offer prayers of gratitude for the convenience and practicality of this iconic minivan. Aside from its roomy interior and seating for large families (both in number and size), the Grand Caravan is the granddaddy of minivans and brought car-like handling and efficiency to the masses in the 80s and 90s. While current minivans are becoming bloated and cumbersome in their handling, they are even roomier and more luxurious, and the Grand Caravan trumps them all with the brilliant Stow n’ Go seating system that allows you to quickly and easily stow both the third and second rows with a few tugs and tumbles.

2012 Lexus RX350
2012 Lexus RX350, photo by Chris Chase. Click image to enlarge

Honourable Mention – Lexus RX 350
Okay, this is something like the Corolla of luxury SUVs, but that didn’t stop us from putting this luxurious and stylish crossover on the list. In fact, the Lexus RX was a luxury crossover before the term even existed. The Lexus RX set the standard by which all other premium brands realized they had to live up to: car-like handling, luxurious ride, a long list of features at an affordable price. There is no question that this Lexus never aimed to challenge any BMW SUV dynamically, but in truth, that is not what most consumers are looking for—they are looking for this comfortable ride, nice leather seats, and worry-free ownership experience.

Volvo 240
Volvo 240, photo by Wikipedia user IFCAR. Click image to enlarge

Historical Mention – Volvo 240 – by Chris Chase
The Volvo 240 is probably the best-known of the cars Volvo built at its Volvo Halifax Assembly Plant, the Swedish company’s only North American assembly facility. The plant opened in 1963, moved just outside Halifax proper to Clayton Park in ’67 and was closed in 1998. Volvo set up shop here to get around import tariffs; vehicle components were shipped to Canada and assembled into cars like the 240, older models like the PV544 and a few more modern Volvos, including the 850 and S70/V70. The 240 wasn’t an exciting car, but it has a loyal following and is affectionately known as “the brick,” for its blocky body. My late grandfather owned two 240 wagons, one from the 1970s and another built sometime in the early ’80s, so I have a soft spot for these cars. My most enduring memories of them are the smell of the vinyl seats in summer, and the way the engine wailed at highway speeds, as both of my granddad’s had the four-speed manual transmission.

Connect with Autos.ca