THE BIG BUSINESS OF SMALL SUVS
THE number of SUVs on our roads has more than doubled in the past decade.
But the make-up of the SUV market has changed considerably over that period, as buyers downsized and discovered they could save money by deleting the all-wheel-drive option and the big off-road tyres.
A decade ago, the homegrown Ford Territory seven-seater ruled the roost. Toyota’s tough-as-teak Prado and LandCruiser jostled for the minor placings with softer, but still off-road capable rivals such as the Subaru Forester, Nissan-X-Trail and Toyota
Fast-forward 10 years and the car-like, compact and city-friendly Mazda CX-5 takes top billing, trailled by tiny tots in the form of the stablemate CX-3, Mitsubishi ASX and Honda HR-V.
Small SUVs are very much the business end of the market, with no fewer than six all-new mini-SUVs released in 2015. Sales grew by more than a quarter as a result.
That wasn’t the only growth area. In the last quarter of 2015, three ute-based heavy-duty SUVs arrived as more affordable alternatives to the Prado and LandCruiser, which can cost up to $85,000 and $120,000 respectively.
The Toyota Fortuner, Ford Everest and Mitsubishi Pajero Sport are already proving popular with buyers who want to tow and aren’t afraid of a dirt road or two.
Passenger cars still make up the majority of new vehicles bought each year. Most pundits believe that by the end of 2017, when the last of the local sedans are gone, SUVs will rule our roads.