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HomeNewsHolden, Ford, Toyota: Australian drivers ditch sedans for SUVs, utes

Holden, Ford, Toyota: Australian drivers ditch sedans for SUVs, utes

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Not too long ago, sedans ruled the roads – but these days, they’re fast becoming a thing of the past.

In recent years, Aussie motorists have given the once-beloved sedan the flick, instead embracing the flexibility and space offered by SUVs and utes in droves.

As a result, sedan sales have dwindled to the point that they’re almost in danger of dying out altogether, with a string of previously popular models already vanishing from Australia – and with more likely to follow.

Just a decade ago, there were 25 models on the market in the under-$60,000 medium sedan category.

And until the noughties, the iconic Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon – widely considered to be Australia’s national cars – led the charge, dominating sales year after year.

But all sales of new Commodores ended in 2020, when the Holden marque and nameplate was discontinued.

It was a similar story for the Falcon, which was discontinued four years prior in 2016, with other big-name sedans like the Ford Mondeo, Mitsubishi’s Magna and Lancer, Nissan Altima, Subaru Liberty, Kia Optima and Honda Accord Euro also disappearing over the past 10 years or so.

In 2022, there are now just a handful available for Aussie sedan enthusiasts, such as the Toyota Camry, Mazda 6, Honda Accord, Skoda Octavia, Hyundai Sonata, Volkswagen Passat and Peugeot 508.

However, there are rumours that the Camry, Sonata and Mazda 6 could be on the chopping block in the future, meaning the already limited choice could be about to drop even further.

According to the latest sales figures from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), the peak body for Australia’s automotive industry, the top 10 best-selling models in November included six medium SUVs, two utes, one small SUV – and just one small hatch/sedan.

And in October, SUVs and light commercial vehicles made up more than 80 per cent of the 87,299 new vehicles sold during that month, proving just how out of favour sedans have fallen.

Alex Jeffs, automotive expert at Finder, told sedans had been slowly dying for many years, while the popularity of SUVs have exploded.

“SUVs have been growing in popularity since the early 2000s. According to VFACTS, the year 2000 saw 105,510 SUVs find new homes,” he said.

“Fast forward to 2021 and VFACTS say that number has ballooned to 531,700.

“Currently, Australia’s undisputed favourite is the Toyota Rav4, followed by the Mazda CX-5.

“It looks like the trend will continue with new competitors like CUPRA coming to the Australian market with their Ateca and Formentor.”

But what’s driving that dramatic trend?

According to Mr Jeffs, there are a string of reasons why Aussies are embracing SUVs – and turning their backs on sedans.

“There are many reasons why the SUV has become more popular in Australia. They’re thought to be more spacious, but obviously this varies vehicle to vehicle,” he said.

“Families find them easier to load kids in and out of with their higher ride height. While they may not necessarily have more cargo space than a sedan, the shape of the boot offers a bit more flexibility.

“More generally, people feel more confident and safe with the higher driving position.”

Mr Jeffs also added that some larger SUVs can offer up to eight seats, and that some offered off-roading capabilities.

“Buyers might like the idea of being able to take their new SUV off-road, although if that is one of your criteria, be sure to do your research,” he said.

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