The vehicle landscape in Australia has seen big changes in the past 12 months, most notably with SUV sales continuing to overtake passenger cars and the growth of dual-cab utes as family transport.
That change in buying habits and an eye for value has had an effect in the list of top-20 most popular vehicles thus far this year, compared to the same period in 2018.
Here are the cars that Australians are favouring so far in 2019 and how they’ve fared since the first quarter of 2018.
1. Toyota Hilux - 12,909
Q1 2018: No.1 - 12,634
Toyota’s benchmark ute has spent the entire year as the number one nameplate in Australia, one of the few to see an increase in sales compared to the same time last year. A big part of this is due to the resurgence of the Australian mining industry. If the Hilux were its own vehicle brand, it would be number six ahead of Nissan, Volkswagen, Honda and Holden.
Pros: Built tough, good off-road; huge model range
Cons: Sparse equipment for the money
The pick: Hilux SR5 4WD Double Cab
2. Ford Ranger - 9662
Q1 2018: No.2 - 10,868
Ranger sales have dropped this year, however it still makes up more than of half of Ford Australia’s sales volume, with plenty of daylight between it, the Mustang and Everest, which each experienced 1303 sales up till the end of March.
Pros: Good to drive; great off road; advanced safety options
Cons: Bouncy ride when unladen; pricey
The Pick: Ranger XLT 3.2L 4WD Double Cab
3. Mazda 3 - 8128
Q1 2018: No.4 - 8916
The all-new and revolutionary Mazda 3 has just launched, but this hasn't stopped the current model enjoying a renaissance that has seen it outsell its old foe the Toyota Corolla to be Australia’s best selling passenger car. The ageing Mazda 3 still stands up well, if not better, than most of its rivals which makes it a great buy if you can snap up a good run-out deal.
Pros: Economical; great driving manners; safety tech
Cons: Dated styling; poor vision for rear passengers
The Pick: Mazda 3 Maxx Sport
4. Mitsubishi Triton – 7518
Q1 2018: No.7 - 6535
Mitsubishi’s family-friendly ute has also seen a spike in sales this year thanks to a facelift that has brought sharp looks and additional standard safety features across its Double Cab range, including autonomous emergency braking.
Pros: Value, nimble around town, advanced safety
Cons: Less cargo size, towing capacity and power than key rivals
The Pick: Triton GLS 4x4 Double Cab
5. Mazda CX-5 – 7118
Q1 2018: No.6 - 6604
Mazda’s medium SUV remains Australia’s biggest-selling SUV, despite occasionally being beaten for monthly sales by the Mitsubishi ASX. Attractive styling, a comfy cabin, good spread of standard features, and a wide choice of powertrains are just some of the reasons for its enduring popularity.
Pros: Interior presentation; active safety; handling
Cons: Ride a little taut
The Pick: CX-5 2.5L Touring AWD
6. Toyota Corolla – 6986
Q1 2018, No.3 – 9264
It wasn’t too long ago that the Corolla was celebrating several consecutive years as Australia’s number one vehicle. Even when overtaken by Hilux and Ranger it remained the number one passenger car, but has seen a significant drop in sales since the new model arrived last year. This is a much better car to drive than the previous model but could be suffering from a higher entry-level price and small boot space, as well as the overall drop in passenger car sales.
Pros: Attractive styling; ride and handling; punchy petrol 2.0L petrol engine
Cons: Lacklustre hybrid; tiny boot; tight rear seat space
The Pick: Corolla SX 2.0-litre hatchback
7. Hyundai i30 - 6222
Q1 2018, No.5 - 6751
Like the Corolla the i30 has also seen a drop in sales. An excellent car with a diverse range from which to choose, from the budget-priced i30 Go to the incredibly capable but fun i30 N hot hatch. Last year saw most of its rival brands jump on the five-year warranty bandwagon, which was one of Hyundai’s strong points, thus eroding its competitive advantage.
Pros: Comfort; performance; features
Cons: Active safety not standard
The Pick: i30 N-Line automatic
8. Mitsubishi ASX - 6167
Q1 2018, No.15 - 4111
One of the oldest models on sale in Australia, the ASX small SUV has enjoyed a resurgence in the past year, with regular upgrades and consistently sharp pricing giving it plenty of showroom appeal for people looking for a cheap and cheerful new SUV.
Pros: Affordability; spacious interior
Cons: Dated styling; cabin noise; lacklustre petrol engine
The Pick: ASX ES ADAS FWD
9. Toyota Landcruiser – 5557
Q1 2018, No.8 - 5445
It’s worth noting the above number includes the both the big 200 Series wagon which makes up 2198 of the numbers, and the 70 Series range of 4x4 utes and wagons. Like the Hilux, the Landcruiser nameplate benefits from having a heap of variants, unbreakable image, excellent off-road capability and huge fleet sales.
Pros: 200 Series space and comfort, goes anywhere, tough as nails
Cons: Big, bulky and heavy
The Pick: Landcruiser GXL 4X4
10. Mitsubishi Outlander - 4905
Q1 2018, No.18 - 3995
Like the Triton and ASX, the Outlander has also seen a decent jump in sales in the past year, which has made Mitsubishi one of the few brands to be in positive growth territory following the slump in overall vehicle sales. And like the ASX, the Outlander has done well through a combination of a recent facelift, equipment upgrades and affordable pricing. Being one of the few medium SUVs with a plug-in hybrid and seven-seat option also helps.
Pros: Seven seat option; equipment levels
Cons: Not as fun to drive as some rivals
The Pick: Outlander LS 7 Seat
Top-10 drop outs
Nissan X-Trail: Q1 2018/2019 - 5794/4800
Hyundai Tucson: Q1 2018/2019 - 4652/3694
Kia Cerato: Q1 2018/2019 – 4583/4867
Holden Colorado: Q1 2018/2019 – 3916/4567
Toyota RAV4: Q1 2018/2019 – 5573/4855