In 2010 passenger cars outsold SUVs two-to-one, however the succeeding decade saw this ratio completely inverted. So why have Australia consumers made the switch?
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SUVs outsold passenger cars by approximately 204 per cent throughout 2020, according to the most recent figures from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI).

Over the course of the year just two of the top 10 best-selling vehicles were passenger cars, with these being the Hyundai i30 and Toyota Corolla.

Conversely, six SUVs made the list – these were the Toyota RAV4, Toyota Prado, Toyota LandCruiser, Mazda CX-5, Nissan X-Trail, and the Hyundai Kona.

The Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger utes claimed the top two spots.

In total, 454,701 new SUVs were reported as sold over the 12-month period, with just 222,103 sedans and hatchbacks finding buyers in the same time.

Ten years ago these figures were almost completely inverted, with reported passenger car sales equalling 592,122 and SUV sales sitting at 235,285.

February 2017 marked the first month in Australian history in which SUVs outsold passenger cars, with 35,497 SUVs sold, versus 34,740 passenger vehicles.

So what has driven this rapid and significant shift?

A spokesperson for the Australian Automotive Dealer Association told CarAdvice “there are a number of reasons consumers [now] favour SUVs.”

“Primarily they are perceived to be spacious, comfortable and family friendly which led to their growing popularity in Australia and other parts of the world – many motorists also feel safer in SUVs because their raised seating position makes them feel less vulnerable than they would in a typical sedan,” the spokesperson added.

“SUVs deliver consumers maximum flexibility by offering a great driving experience, but also the ability utilise features such as the space and the towing capacity to meet their needs. You can use it to commute to work, to embark on a family holiday or to put the back seats down and transport a desk.

“Many SUVs also provide capability to venture off-road which is incredibly appealing for certain consumers and businesses.”

When asked about the future of the Australian car market, the spokesperson was uncertain.

“It is a mug's game trying to predict the future of vehicle sales, especially with all the conversations around the emergence of electric vehicles.”

“However, I believe SUVs will continue to sell very well in the medium term for many of the reasons discussed.

"The pandemic will put more of an emphasis on driving holidays and that will play into the hands of SUVs,” they concluded.