Trevor Collett | Mar 4, 2017

Sport Utility Vehicles have been threatening to do so for months, but few would have predicted that the feat could occur so soon…

We’re talking about the Australian new car sales market, and VFACTS reveals that February saw the flicking of a switch which may never be reversed.

While sales will likely continue to fluctuate from month-to-month, it appears SUVs are now 'it' as far as new car buyers are concerned - outselling conventional passenger vehicles last month in this country for the first time ever.

The margin was slim, as SUVs managed 39.9 percent of the market (35,497 sales) against 39 percent for passenger cars (34,740), but the gap between the pair has been narrowing consistently for over two years.

And sales for both actually fell compared with the same month last year, but SUVs eased 3.7 percent against a steep 12.2 percent drop for passenger cars.

As usual, light commercial vehicles were next with 18.5 percent of the market followed by heavy vehicles with the remainder.

Surprisingly, Australia’s best-selling SUV could only manage seventh in the top-ten list and only three of the top-ten for February were SUVs - all of them midsized models.

The honours went to the Mazda CX-5 (1933 sales), which is a usual top-ten performer sales-wise, followed by a comfortable gap to the Toyota Rav4 in eighth (1726) and the Hyundai Tucson in ninth (1596).

But the absence of other SUVs in the top-ten is because sales are spread between many other models in the compact, medium and large segments.

Besides the aforementioned trio, strong sellers in the midsized SUV segment below $60,000 for February included the Kia Sportage (1127), Nissan X-Trail (1500) and Volkswagen’s Tiguan (945).

And of the 11 models grouped in the medium SUV class above $60,000 in Australia (such as the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Volvo XC60), only the Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class Coupe managed less than 100 sales last month which was more than mitigated by the ‘regular’ GLC’s 247 sales.

In the small SUV class under $40,000, the best-seller in February was the Mazda CX-3 (1468), followed by the Mitsubishi ASX (1061), Honda HR-V (982) and the Nissan Qashqai (868).

The large SUV under $70,000 class is usually dominated by Toyota’s Prado and Kluger pairing, and the former continued at the pointy end as the best-seller in its segment with 1320 sales last month.

But the Kluger has been slipping in recent months. The large family wagon managed just under 1000 sales on a monthly basis throughout much of 2016 but increased competition, coupled with the wait for the updated model, has seen sales fall to 680 last month.

As such, the Kluger was relegated to seventh in the large SUV sales race for February behind the Holden Captiva (842), Subaru Outback (838), Hyundai Santa Fe (763), Mitsubishi Pajero Sport (752) and Mazda’s CX-9 (733).

The upper-large SUV class below $100,000 is a two-horse race in Australia, and Toyota’s LandCruiser completely dominated the Nissan Patrol last month with 91.3 percent of the 1034 combined sales.

Elsewhere in the top-ten, Toyota’s Corolla and HiLux were the best-sellers overall for February with tallies of 3392 and 3386 sales (just six sales behind) respectively.

After winning the sales race in January, the Mazda3 was the third-placed seller last month on 3143, followed by the Ford Ranger, Hyundai i30 and Mitsubishi Triton.

In tenth place was the Holden Commodore - a model which has not featured outside the top-ten since the VF was launched in 2013.

But the sales-slide is inevitable as the model (as we know it) winds down to retirement. Ford’s Falcon was down to just 50 sales last month as the last examples find homes.

Overall, Toyota topped the sales sheets in Australia for February with 16,308 units, followed by Mazda, Hyundai and Mitsubishi - which displaced Holden to fifth on 5724 sales.

MORE: VFACTS | TOYOTA | SUVs | COMMODORE

Top 10 Selling Brands - February 2017

  1. Toyota - 16,308 (up 0.8 percent YTD)
  2. Mazda - 9923 (down 1.1 percent)
  3. Hyundai - 7001 (down 6.8 percent)
  4. Mitsubishi - 5758 (down 7.3 percent)
  5. Holden - 5724 (down 8.9 percent)
  6. Ford - 5669 (down 4.8 percent)
  7. Volkswagen - 4618 (down 7.0 percent)
  8. Nissan - 4425 (down 18.3 percent)
  9. Kia - 4174 (up 32.4 percent)
  10. Subaru - 3746 (up 11.7 percent)

Top 10 Selling Models - February 2017

  1. Toyota Corolla - 3392 (6335 sales YTD)
  2. Toyota HiLux - 3386 (6088)
  3. Mazda3 - 3143 (6616)
  4. Ford Ranger - 2931 (5553)
  5. Hyundai i30 - 2003 (4021)
  6. Mitsubishi Triton - 1990 (3145)
  7. Mazda CX-5 - 1933 (3857)
  8. Toyota Rav4 - 1726 (3120)
  9. Hyundai Tucson - 1596 (3274)
  10. Holden Commodore - 1566 (3526)