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As auto enthusiasts know, there are many vehicles sold worldwide that are not available to the U.S. market. This is true for a couple of reasons, including regulations and costs. Some of these models come extremely close to the states by being sold in Canada. In terms of SUVs available in Canada but not sold in the United States, we feel these three would have been the most exciting to see on American roads. From a Russian 4×4 SUV to a quirky General Motors compact vehicle, we wish these cars would have crossed the northern border. 

Are Lada cars sold in Canada?

A Russian 4x4 SUV, the Lada Niva sits in the sand.
Lada Niva | Lada

For a brief time in the 1980s, the Lada Niva was available in Canada. It was not the only Lada model sold in the great white north, but it did offer four-wheel drive and compact sizing. Making it ideal for handling winters and rural lifestyles. 

The Lada Niva has always been a simple and utilitarian vehicle. In fact, it remained pretty much the same from its introduction in the 1970s until changes were made in 2021. Now, we are not claiming that the Niva is a great SUV, it lacks pretty much all creature comforts. That said, there is something special about a rugged 4×4 that you can repair with a basic toolkit on the side of the road. 

In Canada, the Niva was even offered as a pickup truck which was notably absent in the former Soviet Union. In America, vehicles were offered from brands like Subaru and AMC that helped fill the Lada gap, but those models lacked Russian charm. Today, the Lada Niva still has a following in Canada as a cheap off-road SUV, although it is not as popular as other models. 

The Nissan X-TRAIL was a Canadian Nissan Xterra

An orange 2022 Nissan X-TRAIL sits on the side of a mountain road. Using its status as an SUV to haul some bicycles.
2022 Nissan X-TRAIL | Nissan

In North America, SUV shoppers were once able to buy the Nissan Xterra, in Canada, shoppers got something known as the Nissan X-TRAIL. The X-TRAIL had boxy styling and had legitimate capability, but it was only sold for the 2005 and 2006 model years. 

All X-TRAIL models came with 4WD and a transfer case allowing drivers to switch the power going to the wheels. In some markets, the Nissan X-TRAIL is still sold, and it shares its platform with the Nissan Rogue.

Pontiac Sunrunner, a compact 4×4

Wearing classic 90s colors, the Pontiac Sunrunner is a compact SUV not sold in the U.S.
Pontiac Sunrunner | Bull Doser

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American buyers are familiar with the Geo Tracker, but GM decided that this vehicle needed a rebranding for the Canadian market. The Pontiac Sunrunner was a small 4×4 SUV that was both cute and capable. As a reflection of GM’s cheapness at the time, the Sunrunner did not have the traditional triangle badge, instead, it had a circular badge. This allowed GM to build a Pontiac version without needing to create a new grille. 

The quirkiness did not stop there though. According to AutoTrader, GM also sold a GMC version of this vehicle in Canada. Which, considering today’s GMC brand, seems pretty outlandish. The Pontiac Sunrunner was available to Canadian buyers from 1994 to 1998. Ultimately, Pontiac went defunct in 2010.