Australia’s most popular car brands: Who wins?

William Jolly By on October 3, 2018
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Most popular cars Savings.com.au

Australia is a nation of car lovers, with have among the world’s highest numbers of vehicles per capita.

But which car brands and models do we love most?

There are more than 19 million registered cars on the roads in Australia right now, according to the ABS. That’s roughly 0.8 cars per person – a truly staggering amount, and that’s counting babies, children and anyone else who doesn’t drive at all. Remove these people from the equation, and you’d get a number much closer to 1/1.

According to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) end of year report for December 2017, Australia had another record year of car sales, tallying 1.19 million new car sales.

The 10 most popular car brands in 2017

Of the 1.19 million sold last year, the following car brands account for the top 10:

RankBrandSales
1Toyota216,566
2Mazda116,349
3Hyundai97,013
4Holden90,306
5Mitsubishi80,654
6Ford78,161
7Volkswagen58,004
8Nissan56,594
9Kia54,737
10Subaru52,511

This list of top 10 car brands in Australia isn’t that surprising. Six of the brands listed here are in the global top 10 for car brands – Toyota again takes the top gong there with nearly eight million registered vehicles sold in 2017. Global brands that aren’t as successful in this sunburnt country are Honda, Chevrolet, Suzuki and Mercedes Benz.

Most popular models in 2017

FCAI also broke down which individual car models were sold the most that year, with Toyota models unsurprisingly accounting for three of the top 10:

RankCar model# of salesMinimum drive-away price (new)
1Toyota Hilux47,093$20,990
2Ford Ranger42,728$22,990
3Toyota Corolla37,353$20,190
4Mazda332,690$20,490
5Hyundai i3028,780$19,990
6Mazda CX-525,831$28,690
7Hyundai Tucson23,828$28,150
8Holden Commodore23,676$33,690
9Toyota Camry23,620$27,690
10Mitsubishi Triton23,605$22,300

Price data sourced from carsguide.com.au

This data is interesting as the top-selling car – the Toyota Hilux – is a ute, just like the second highest selling car the Ford Ranger. Both of these vehicles showed strong growth of almost 20% from 2016, indicating that perhaps Aussies are keen to embrace their humble true-blue personalities. Or maybe it’s just because utes are powerful, practical and used heavily by tradespeople and businesses (as fleet cars), which would surely account for a large portion of these new sales. Either or.

Why are these brands so popular?

There’s a good variety of cars in these lists so it’s difficult to say exactly why these ones are so popular. Brand recognition surely has a major say in purchase decisions, but after looking at each of these models in this list, you can see a few common themes:

  • A high fuel-economy, as well as low carbon emissions
  • Affordability – many of these cars can be bought for a drive away price of less than $30,000
  • Low running costs for some of the smaller models was a deciding factor
  • Interior comfort and style too

Notably, each of the top ten individual car models also have a five-star ANCAP safety rating, meaning that they come equipped with the highest standard of safety technologies modern cars can have, such as parking assist, blind spot mirrors, lane departure warnings and more. This is fairly standard now among new cars, but it does show that perhaps the typical car buyer today is more safety-conscious.

How do Australians buy their cars?

According to a joint study by Ipsos and Carsales.com.au, car buying in Australia is now more multifaceted than ever. Gone are the days of popping into a dealership, speaking to a greasy car salesman and driving away in a car beyond your price range. Now, 61% of new and used car buyers are influenced by car review and comparison sites, compared to just 38% who are influenced by dealerships.

The average Aussie is simply more informed now, taking an average of four trips to a dealership before buying. During this time in between trips, they use mobiles, tablets and computers to access vital information on their car of choice, and are willing to travel up to 80 km to find the right one.

Brand loyalty is also on the decline, so the cars you see at the top of this list must be doing something right. Don’t just take our word for it though – you have a wealth of information at your fingertips, so put it to good use!

Savings.com.au’s two cents

ABS inflation data does show that cars are getting more affordable overall. For example, a new $16,000 car in 2018 would’ve cost you $20,000 in the year 2000. That’s a 20% difference in price. Your car doesn’t have to be new either, as 30% of car buyers consider a used car, which can cost significantly less.

While cars are an expensive asset to buy, they can be even more expensive to own. You could end up paying over $10,000 a year after you’ve already bought the thing. So don’t just look at the outside of a car. Look into:

  • The fuel efficiency
  • The cost of insurance
  • The cost of registration
  • Potential depreciation costs

It’s possible that there are cars outside of the top 10 that fare much better in terms of overall cost.

If you decide to take out a car loan to purchase your next car, then consider looking at a secured car loan with low interest rates and fees. Try using a car loan repayment calculator, so you know what to expect and don’t end up in over your head.

William Jolly
William Jolly joined Savings.com.au as a Financial Journalist in 2018, after spending two years at financial research and comparison website Canstar. In William's articles, you're likely to find complex financial topics and products broken down into everyday language. He is deeply passionate about improving the financial literacy of Australians and providing them with resources on how to save money in their everyday lives.
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