Five Reasons Behind the Rise of the SUV in Australia

By Alexi Falson
Updated on 19 Nov 2022 First published 16 Apr 2021
image for Five Reasons Behind the Rise of the SUV in Australia If there’s one type of car the Australian public loves more than anything else, it’s the sports utility vehicle (SUV).

In recent years here in Australia, SUVs have been out-selling their nearest competitor by a rate of 2:1, meaning that for every sedan, hatch or ute rolling out of the factory, there’s two SUVs making their way to a buyer at the exact same time.

Have you ever wondered exactly what is driving this immense gravitation toward SUVs here in Australia? Well, read on and you’ll discover five of the main reasons behind the rise of the SUV in Australia.

How Many SUVs Are Sold in Australia Each Year?

The latest VFACTs report from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) is proof of the absolute dominance of the SUV here in Australia.

In August, 2022, Aussie buyers snapped up 48,571 SUVs for the month, which more than doubled sales of passenger vehicles (19,997 sales) and the light commercial segment (22,472).

For the year-to-date in 2022, buyers have snapped up 375,036 SUVs in total, making it by far the most popular type of car purchased here in Australia.

Compact or light SUVs have seen their share of the market increase by a massive 44.5% for the year so far in 2022, with light, medium, and large SUVs all reporting growth figures of 22%, 17%, and 5% respectively.

To put this into context, SUVs have expanded their share of the market while small, medium, and large passenger vehicles like sedans, hatchbacks, and wagons have all declined, making the SUV the king of the Australian landscape.

Five Reasons Behind the Rise of the SUV in Australia

Now that we know the extent of the SUV segment’s dominance here in Australia, let’s unpack five of the major reasons buyers are gravitating toward SUVs over alternative options.

The U.S. Market Sets the Trend

The American influence over things like popular culture very much extends to the types of cars you’ll find dominating Australian streets.

While American manufacturers might not have the same weight as they do here in Australia, in a number of ways, American buyers were some of the first to really popularise the SUV in the urban environment as a one-stop-family-shop.

One example of this is the fact that 20 per cent of the cars sold in the U.S. ten years ago were sedan body-shapes, which dropped to just 10 per cent in 2017; with much the same happening here in Australia.

Manufacturers Follow Market Trends

With a huge shift in just what the buying public is looking for in their next vehicle, manufacturers would be ill-advised to ignore these clear trends, which has resulted in a flood of SUVs hitting the market in recent years.

The buying public has made it very clear that the SUV is their preferred body shape for an all-rounder vehicle that can handle family duties, the work commute and holiday road trips in a single package.

As a result, almost every single manufacturer producing for the Australian market has an SUV in their ranks after following this trend.

SUV Prices Have Dropped Significantly

As more manufacturers throw their hat into the SUV ring, the added number of options and the fierce competitiveness within the SUV segment has resulted in attractive prices for Australian buyers.

While SUVs were previously designed as primarily tough and capable off-roaders, these days, manufacturers know that the vast majority of their buyers won’t take the car off-road, which means they don’t need to receive the same amount of hardcore off-road road; dropping the price in the process.

This has also opened up a new subset of SUVs that are more affordable for Australian buyers.

More Metal, More Safety

It’s clear to see that buyers not only enjoy the raised driving position and ride height of an SUV, they also believe the SUV to be one of the safest car options on the market.

For years now, almost every SUV release from a major manufacturer has received a five-star ANCAP safety rating, which makes them extremely appealing in the eyes of a family buyer that equates having more metal in the car with more safety.

SUVs offer a Heap of Practicality, Comfort, and Versatility

One of the most important driving factors behind the rise of the SUV here in Australia is just how positively buyers have responded to the size, practicality, and versatility of the package.

After all, buying a new car is one of the most expensive purchases you’ll make in a lifetime, so customers are making sure that their purchase can handle everything thrown at it, with the SUV becoming the de-facto choice.

SUVs are often referred to as a jack-of-all-trades vehicle, and even if the owner doesn’t put it to the test off-road or fill up the boot to its full potential, SUVs offer buyers the peace of mind that their car can handle pretty much anything life throws at them.

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Alexi Falson

Alexi is an automotive journalist and road tester hailing from Byron Bay. He has an affection for both cars and motorbikes, a great admiration for the simplicity of old-school engineering, and a fascination of new technology making its way to modern cars. When he's not road testing, you'll find him surfing, hiking or helping people find their dream cars.

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