With car-like comfort, luxury, safety, driving appeal and outstanding versatility, it’s no wonder that SUV models now command almost 25 per cent of the total market.
During the ’90s, the SUV segment had three main players: the Toyota LandCruiser, Nissan’s Patrol and the Land Rover offerings.
Honda and Toyota later influenced a new segment: Compact SUV. Honda’s CR-V and Toyota’s RAV-4 offered the flexibility of their bigger brothers but were easier to drive, more economical and more at home in the urban environment. They quickly became a favourite with families managing the school run.
Today around 20 brands compete in the Compact SUV segment, which accounts for half of all (almost 250,000) SUV models sold here. Two and all-wheel drive models are available, with petrol and diesel powerplants. All brands offer manual and auto transmission, though automatic is the most popular choice across all brands.
Safety isn’t compromised with most vehicles earning five-star crash-test safety rating from ENCAP and ANCAP.
Best sellers include the Toyota RAV4, Subaru Forester, Nissan X-TRAIL and segment newcomer, Hyundai iX-35.
Medium SUV models offer more flexibility with many having a seven-seat option for peoplemover versatility. The medium segment king is the Ford Territory, which gained a diesel option last year.
Following the big Ford are the Toyota twins, Kluger and Prado. Holden’s Captiva 7 and the Mitsubishi Pajero are also popular.
The large SUV segment is dominated by segment stalwarts, Toyota LandCruiser and Nissan Patrol, while large luxury options include Audi (with Q7) and Mercedes-Benz (GL).
Sales of luxury SUV models powered on, despite recent tough economic times. Jeep Grand Cherokee proved popular, as did German offerings including Audi Q5, and BMW’s X5, X1 and X3 range.