THE BIG BUSI­NESS OF SMALL SUVS

The Advertiser - Motoring - - COVER STORY -

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

RAV4.

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.

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