Which of Canada’s best selling cars is easiest to repair?

They all look so perfect sitting in a new-car showroom, paint and chrome gleaming to the point where it hurts your eyes.  But how will they stand up to the everyday battlefields of the mall parking lots, automatic car washes, and driveways and garages jammed with bikes and hockey gear?

It’s no surprise that vehicle sheet metal and other body materials are getting thinner every year. Carmakers faced with increasingly tough fuel mileage standards have created massive divisions of “Right-Weighting” departments where legions of engineers and scientists toil to put their wheeled wonders on strict diets. New materials and production processes bring us fuel efficiency but at what cost? You’re not alone if you have the opinion that your new car’s fender or door seem easier to dent or mar with little force or effort.

How does the Honda Civic stack up against its best-selling competitors?

How does the Honda Civic stack up against its best-selling competitors?
Supplied, MYNRMA

But are there any rugged vehicles still out there?  We conducted an informal and unscientific survey of some of the busiest collision repair shops and asked the professionals that work on body damage for a living to rate the top five cars sold in Canada last year.  We asked them to list these vehicles from best to worst in five categories:

1. Metal damage: how easy or hard is it to dent, crumple, or mar doors, fenders, hoods, etc.?

2. Paint damage: how do painted surfaces stand up to stone chips, scratches, etc.?

3. Trim durability: how tough are exterior plastics and trim such as moldings, mirrors, etc.?

4. Paint quality: how does this skin stand up in terms of fading, peeling, or cracking?

5. Price/availability of parts: important as many consumers pay for their own damage.

6. General repairability: how easy/hard is it to restore these wheels to their former glory?

Just for a reminder, the top-selling passenger cars in Canada last year were (in descending order):

1. Honda Civic

2. Hyundai Elantra

3. Toyota Corolla

4. Mazda3

5. Chevrolet Cruze

The award for best performance in the heavy metal (hard to damage) category went to the Chevy Cruze, followed by the Corolla, Mazda3, Elantra, and Civic.  In terms of durable beauty (toughest paint) the winner was Toyota’s Corolla followed by Honda, Hyundai, Chevy, and Mazda.

A man inspects vehicles piled up in an accident recently in Bensalem, PA.

A man inspects vehicles piled up in an accident recently in Bensalem, PA.
Matt Rourke, AP

For keeping the plastic bits together and on the car, the winner was the Cruze, while the Corolla and Civic tied for second, and the Elantra and Mazda3 brought up the rear.  For lasting paint beauty, our panel picked Honda and Toyota for first place with Hyundai, Chevrolet, and Mazda following behind. When it comes to inexpensive and easy-to-get parts, it was no surprise that the least expensive vehicle to buy topped this category: Hyundai’s Elantra.  The Civic came second, Corolla and Mazda’s 3 were tied for third and the Cruze finished last.

The scratch and dent pros rated the Elantra as number one in terms of general repairability.  The Chevy Cruze came in second, Honda’s Civic and Toyota’s Corolla were tied for third and the Mazda3 rounded out the group.

If keeping your ride pristine is important and you cringe when you have to park next to a giant SUV at the grocery store, you might benefit from asking your favourite collision shop for their opinion on your new vehicle short list.

If you have questions or comments on automotive topics you’d like to see here, please send an email to [email protected] Due to volume, direct responses aren’t always possible.

About Brian Turner