Top 10 Forbidden Fruits Growing In Your Backyard

Sami Haj-Assaad
by Sami Haj-Assaad

Think we have it good in the US when it comes to automotive selection? Think again. There are quite a few cars available to our neighbors from the North and South, but not in our dealerships. What gives?

Here’s the scoop: many of these cars might not pass our emissions or safety standards, while others don’t fit into some automakers US lineups. Other cars, like the Nissan Micra may just exist in these smaller markets to test the waters.

Despite these reasons, we still wish that the following cars could make their way to the US, even if takes black-magic or voodoo to bring them. Check out our list and let us know which Non-US, North American car you pine for.

Americans might recognize the Jeep Wrangler and Toyota Land Cruiser as some of the most badass, off-road capable SUVs, but there’s also the Mitsubishi Montero. Offered in Mexico, the Montero is a two or four-door SUV that can handle any road conditions.

Powered by a 3.2-liter diesel six-cylinder or 3.8-liter gas engine, the Montero is a truck we’d love to go dune bashing in. Costing just around $41,000 the Montero is a bit pricey, but it’s a legend in international markets for its off-road prowess.

North America also includes another country up north called Canada! For some reason Canadians like small, minivan-like cars. The Kia Rondo is one of those cars, with seating for six, plenty of features and small-car-like handling. Canadians also get the Chevrolet Orlando, which is a similar body style.

SEE ALSO: Read our Review of the Kia Rondo

With Mazda cancelling the Mazda5, maybe Kia could bring the Rondo to the U.S. Its price tag in Canada equates to under $20,000, making it a solid value proposition for families.

Why can Mexico get pretty Italian cars while we get the Neon-like Dodge Dart? The Alfa Romeo Giullietta platform actually also underpins the Dodge Dart, but the variant found in Mexico uses a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 230 hp. With its solid performance and styling, we would happily take the Giullietta over the Dart.

Cheap is in these days, as evidenced by affordable cars like the Chevy Spark and Mitsubishi Mirage, so it’s interesting to see the Duster being offered in Mexico instead of the U.S. However, one look at its spec sheet and things become clear: its 2.0-liter engine makes 133 hp, not nearly enough for American compact crossover buyers.

See Also: 2015 Nissan Micra Review

Still, with a low price and that bit of rugged appeal, Americans may also just fall in love with the Renault Duster. Speaking of cheap, Renault’s partner Nissan offers the cheapest car in Canada, the Micra, so it knows just how important an affordable car is.

Of course there are premium small cars and hatchbacks in Mexico as well, including the Audi A1. A subcompact with style, the A1 is the smallest car Audi makes, which is perfect for cities that have tight roads and dense populations.

Inside, the car isn’t up to par with cars like the A6 or A8, but it’s more than serviceable and features Audi’s simple, elegant interior design. Not bad for a car that rings in at 282,700 pesos, or about $21,700.

Want more practicality than a CLA-Class? Then the A-Class is what you really want. Costing the equivalent of $29,500, the A-Class is solid value too with its 1.6-liter or 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines that are plenty efficient.

One of the best-looking hatchbacks around, there’s also an available AMG model that pumps out 355-hp to all four-wheels.

Plus, while we all complain about room in the back seats of the CLA class, the A-Class features better accommodations thanks to its hatchback design.

Spanish automaker SEAT offers their goods in Mexico, allowing the Leon Cupra to be sold just south of our borders. Using a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine the Cupra makes about 265-hp, which can send the hatchback to 62 mph in about six seconds, thanks to a quick-shifting dual-clutch transmission. It costs about $32,000 which is a bit steep, but that’s a hot hatch that could easily run with the Focus ST here in the U.S.

It’s often said that rear-wheel drive cars have classic, sexy lines, but somehow Peugeot managed to make the front-wheel drive RCZ stunning as well.

The fastest RCZ uses an efficient 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 200 hp and 270 lb-ft. It’s not too bad either, sending this car to 62 mph in eight seconds. This French coupe is plenty expensive over in Mexico, costing about $43,000.

2011 Chevrolet Montana (Argentina). X11CH_MN004AR (09/27/2010)

A modern El Camino exists, and it lives in Mexico. Introducing the Chevy Tornado, a two-door car-based pickup that reminds us oh-so-much of days gone by.

Called the Montana in other regions (but not in North America, because of Pontiac) the Tornado is essentially an Opel/Vauxhall Corsa and uses either a four-cylinder gas or diesel engine to putter about. With a maximum weight of about 2,600 lbs. and a five-speed manual, this could actually be a hoot to drive. With a price tag roughly equal to $15,300 US, it’s the trucklet for the everyman.

The Ford Ranger is still alive and well in North America… well at least in Mexico, where folks south of the border can enjoy the small pickup’s good looks and utility.

Equipped with 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 165-hp, it might seem underpowered, but is a perfect vehicle for those who don’t need a big lumbering half-ton pickup. The Ranger is one truck we really miss, but then again at the equivalent of $22,500, the Ranger is probably also a little bit too close to the price of a base F-150.

Sami Haj-Assaad
Sami Haj-Assaad

Sami has an unquenchable thirst for car knowledge and has been at AutoGuide for the past six years. He has a degree in journalism and media studies from the University of Guelph-Humber in Toronto and has won multiple journalism awards from the Automotive Journalist Association of Canada. Sami is also on the jury for the World Car Awards.

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