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Why Are SUVs So Popular These Days?

10 May 2019 AutoMarket, Tips & Advice

SUVs (sports utility vehicles) were initially marketed as light commercial vehicles that can handle extreme off-road conditions. They have since diversified into the mainstream and are more popular than ever with prospective buyers.

Today, new SUV models can be split into 3 size variations – small (e.g. Audi Q2), medium (e.g. BMW X3) and large (e.g. Hyundai). This increasing variety makes SUVs a common choice in Australia.

There has been a significant decline in demand for passenger cars over the past few years in favour of SUVs. 2017 saw SUVs surpass passenger car sales, with 425,217 units of the former sold compared to 413,264 of the latter. This market shift may be due to SUVs reputation as a “do-all vehicle”.

In 2018, SUVs accounted for a whopping 43% of total new car sales in Australia. Last year, SUVs dominated sales figures with a total of 483,388 units sold from January to December.

Basically, SUVs are red hot. But aside from the variety, what are the reasons for SUVs’ surge in popularity? Let’s discuss.

Room capacity

Space is a big selling point for SUVs. With its high roofs and low floors, SUVs allow plenty of headroom and legroom, making for a very comfortable ride. Unlike sedans and wagons, SUVs’ roof line does not taper or sweep down so the headroom for those in the back is not compromised. Many can seat five passengers with ease, with some even offering a third row of seating. This is convenient for large families with young children. SUVs typically have a lot of storage space too, which is great for those who enjoy long road trips.

Size and power

Because SUVs are larger and heavier than other vehicles, people tend to feel safer in them. SUVs are known for their strong and sturdy body frames, making them more protective and powerful on the road. The taller seating also allows the driver to get a better view ahead. If you’re an explorer who loves the outback and dirt roads, SUVs are your best friend. Their sheer force can power through uneven terrains and can endure big impacts, making them equipped for any adventure.


Safety wise, bigger is almost always better. This is especially true in the case of cars. SUVs are manufactured with your safety and security in mind. They boast sturdy frameworks and strong truck chassis, ensuring the utmost level of protection and security. Large vehicles like SUVs can also take much more force and impact than small cars in accidents or collisions. They also offer a number of special safety features such as adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking and a road departure mitigation system. They even have LATCH system (lower anchor and tethers for car seats) which positions them firmly as a family car.

Command seating position

SUVs’ elevated seating allows drivers to see further down the road. This gives them a clear view of the traffic ahead, empty parking spaces, hedges or anything else in their way. With this view, drivers can better anticipate upcoming hazards and prepare well in advance.

Cargo capacity

Some people hoard their belongings in their boot. With a huge cargo capacity, SUVs are the perfect cars for these types. Although their boots typically aren’t as deep as those in wagons, SUVs’ taller cargo space can accommodate lengthier items such as ski equipment.

Off-roading capabilities

SUVs’ ground clearance and sturdy suspension systems allow them to perform off-road driving better than most cars. SUVs have all the features necessary to take on dirt roads - transmissions and differentials, underbody protection like skid plates, hill descent control and low range. Its fenders are designed for long suspension travels and its hoods slope away to give drivers better visibility.

Towing capabilities

Most SUVs on the market today have very powerful engines. This means they can tow the likes of caravans, boats and trailers. For big families planning road trips, an SUV is ideal for bringing equipment. If this is a draw factor for you, be sure to check the towing weight capacity before purchase.


People want to keep fuel costs to a minimum. SUVs have become more fuel-efficient over time, offering affordable maintenance costs for car buyers.

Extensive line-up

You’ll be spoiled for choice when shopping for your next SUV. Almost every manufacturer offers their own model. Ford offers Eco Sport, Explorer and Expedition. Toyota has C-HR, RAV4, 4Runner, Highlander and Land Cruiser. Then there’s Dodge, with Journey and Durango. No doubt you’ll find your perfect match.

Best-selling SUVs in Australia

SUVs obviously have a wide range of attractive features. But which one is right for you? Let’s go through the top-selling models in the country to give you an idea of what’s out there.

As of February 2020, these are the top 5 best-selling SUVs in Australia.


1. Toyota RAV4

Available in GX, GXL, Cruiser and Edge, the Toyota Rav4 sold over 3,300 units in February. Car buyers can choose which model they want to drive, and they can also opt for either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic with the added option of 2WD or AWD.

2. Mazda CX-5

CX-5 is Mazda’s flagship model and their most popular SUV to date with 1,969 sales recorded. There are 5 model variants to choose from – Maxx, Maxx Sport, Touring, GT and the Akera, which all come with 360-degree View Monitor, 7-inch infotainment unit and Mazda Radar Cruise Control.

3. Nissan X-Trail

The X-Trail may be one of Nissan’s longest running models, but it remains hot in the sales department, with 1,439 units sold. Five and seven-seater varieties are available on ST, ST-L, N-Sport and T models, and drivers can choose between petrol or diesel.

4. Mitsubishi ASX

Another big player in the SUV market, the Mitsubishi ASX sold over 1,300 units last February. Among its standout features include LED Daytime Running Lights, a panoramic glass roof with retractable sunshade, LED mood lighting and a 18-inch alloy wheels.

5. Mazda CX-3

Another entry from Mazda, the CX-3 is fast becoming a popular small SUV among consumers. The CX-3 range includes the Neo Sport, Maxx Sport, S Touring, Akari and Akari LE variants which are available in both FWD and AWD.

Final thoughts

While it’s true that some people buy SUVs out of desire rather than necessity, you cannot deny their appeal. It’s no wonder they have become so widespread here in Australia. With car manufacturers continuing to release SUV models, demand shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Don’t miss out. Start looking for your perfect model today at