Australia's best-selling cars of 2019 revealed: No real surprises here

SUV and supercar sales are up while small car sales have plummeted, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries' figures for 2019 have confirmed.

Australia's Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) has revealed the full vehicle sales data for 2019, and let me put it bluntly – there are absolutely no surprises to be found anywhere amongst these figures.

Reflecting a downturn across many other markets such as housing and retail, the car market also faced a hard year during 2019, which the FCAI has attributed to the constantly fluctuating value of the Australian dollar and banks tightening their lending criteria, among a variety of other factors.

Total sales of 1,062,867 new vehicles over the course of 2019 represent a 7.8 per cent fall compared to the 1.15 million units shifted during 2018. This also represents the worst year for sales in the Australian car market since 2011, along with December being the 21st month in a row to see a decline.

The Ford Ranger was not only the second-best-selling ute, but secured an easy second place on the overall leaderboard as well

The Ford Ranger was not only the second-best-selling ute, but secured an easy second place on the overall leaderboard as well

But while overall sales declined this past year, one segment did managed to end up growing even more, with SUVs outselling all other classes with a massive 45 per cent market share, compared to 30 per cent for passenger cars and 21 per cent for light commercial vehicles, the two next-best selling categories.

And indeed, while SUVs continue to gain popularity, sales of small hatches and sedans in the passenger car segment have truly plummeted, showing what people are moving into larger cars from, with small car sales down a whopping 18 per cent, or in more tangible numbers, a drop of 35,938 sales.


Although the cars that managed to make up the top five places in each category will come as a surprise to no one who's ever looked around the carpark at their local shops, the closest thing to a surprise that can be seen anywhere is when it comes to the SUVs that saw the greatest popularity, as most are models that are really getting on in years.

Aside from the all-new Toyota RAV4 which very nearly took the crown from the popular CX-5, although that number would include some run-out last-gen RAV4 models, the other four here have been around in their current generations for three years in the case of the CX-5, six when it comes to the the X-Trail, and a full decade now for the ageing ASX and Prado.

Top five best-selling SUVs in Australia during 2019:

1. Mazda CX-5 – 25,539

2. Toyota RAV4 – 24,260

3. Mitsubishi ASX – 20,806

4. Nissan X-Trail – 19,726

5. Toyota Prado – 18,335

Passenger cars

In the passenger car segment, there were no real surprises to be seen either, with hatchbacks at a more affordable price point dominating the top five in this falling segment and bucking the downwards trend of overall hatch sales, although the Toyota Camry managed to grasp onto fifth place. Curiously, the hybrid variant of the Camry proved to be the most popular variant in the model's lineup.

Toyota's fab new Corolla hatch topping the list further proved the marque's sales magnitude in the Australian market, with the recently-launched sedan likely to only see its sales figures bolstered during the coming year.

Top five best-selling passenger cars in Australia during 2019:

1. Toyota Corolla – 30,468

2. Hyundai i30 – 28,378

3. Mazda3 – 24,939

4. Kia Cerato – 21,757

5. Toyota Camry – 16,768

Light commercial vehicles

While only the third-largest segment overall, the light commercial sector continued to contain the market's top-two sellers overall – the immensely popular Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger, with the former absolutely dominating the charts. The refreshed Mitsubishi Triton managed to gain a podium finish to, with its new looks and refined driving dynamics clearly winning over buyers.

The Holden Colorado continued to remain the lion brand's best-selling model in wake of the Aussie-made Commodore's death and catastrophic sales of its now-canned ZB replacement, while the closely-related Isuzu D-Max earned a worthy place in the top five as the brand with a current lineup famed for reliability saw continued strong sales.

Top five best-selling light commercial vehicles in Australia during 2019:

1. Toyota HiLux – 47,649

2. Ford Ranger – 40,690

3. Mitsubishi Triton – 25,819

4. Holden Colorado – 17,472

5. Isuzu D-Max – 16,892

Supercars: The year's wildcard

Despite the sharp decline in small car sales, the top end of town have clearly still been able to treat themselves during 2019, with supercars managing to sell in record numbers during the past year.

Ferrari managed to post its fifth record year in a row – which was one of seven in the past nine years – while its rivals at Lamborghini posted its second record year running, one of four in the last five years. While we aren't talking massive numbers here – Ferrari recorded 257 new registrations, while Lamborghini shifted 147 cars – they aren't alone at the higher end of the market in seeing sales increases.

Porsche saw sales go up 6.4 per cent during the past year, while at the very top, Rolls-Royce saw a 37.5 per cent increase to an all-time record of... um, 55. It does sound less impressive when said that way, but consider that its models typically have a price tag of seven digits.

Not all brands posted increases, with McLaren posting identical sales to 2018, Maserati and Aston Martin both seeing slumps of over 20 per cent, and Bentley sales dropping 8.2 per cent.

Ferrari sales were at a record high during 2019, with many other high-end brands also seeing sales increases

Ferrari sales were at a record high during 2019, with many other high-end brands also seeing sales increases

All together now...

As mentioned earlier, the Toyota HiLux once again proved to be the most dominant force in the Aussie car market with its 47,649 sales blowing everything else out of the water.

And, indeed, Toyota itself proved to be the most popular name in the top 20, with five models making it onto the list, followed by three for Mazda and two for Hyundai and Mitsubishi.

With such a steady decline in overall sales but growth posted in the SUV and supercar categories, it will be interesting to see if these trends continue the way they have been the past couple of years during 2020, or whether things may all change for the worse.

Top 20 best-selling cars in Australia during 2019:

1. Toyota HiLux – 47,649

2. Ford Ranger – 40,690

3. Toyota Corolla – 30,468

4. Hyundai i30 – 28,378

5. Mitsubishi Triton – 25,819

6. Mazda CX-5 – 25,539

7. Mazda3 – 24,939

8. Toyota RAV4 – 24,260

9. Kia Cerato – 21,757

10. Mitsubishi ASX – 20,806

11. Nissan X-Trail – 19,726

12. Toyota Prado – 18,335

13. Hyundai Tucson – 18,251

14. Mitsubishi Outlander – 17,514

15. Holden Colorado – 17,472

16. Isuzu D-Max – 16,892

17. Toyota Camry – 16,768

18. Subaru Forester – 15,096

19. Mazda CX-3 – 14,813

20. Volkswagen Golf – 14,355

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Comments (20)

  • Most of them aren’t cars. When did Australia decide “I don’t want anything as sophisticated as a car, I’d rather drive a tractor”?

      1 year ago
    • Fleet sales contribute massively to the popularity of the HiLux and Ranger, but plenty of private buyers are still opting for them. My guess is that it’s about the image more than anything else.

        1 year ago
    • Maybe, but those Fleet Sales used to be Commodores and Falcons. Did every Australian stop being a Sales Rep and decide to become a Tradie? I don’t think so.

        1 year ago
  • Didn’t know Australian market was so dominated by the Japanese

      1 year ago
    • Yep – we actually buy more cars built in Japan than any other country. Also worth noting is that the country we buy the second-largest number of cars from is Thailand (where all five of the listed utes were made) and the majority of those are...

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        1 year ago
  • I love my HiLux SR5 it’s my 3rd, and it’s extremely well equipped, easy to drive, well built, economical, and has amazing practicality, I guess people are looking for an all rounder that polishes up well, whether you slide into a leather seat and push the start button and whack on the radar cruise for a trip to the beach, or tow a van or boat like I do, or pick up kids or a scoop of garden mulch, I’d rather 2 cars in one.

      1 year ago
    • That's a good point actually – for someone towing a caravan or boat a lot, I can definitely see a ute as being a good go-to option given most ute-based SUVs typically lose about 500kg towing capacity compared to the ute they're based on.

        1 year ago
    • Yeh exactly, they don’t really cut it with 2 tonnes of Seafarer or Jayco on the back, and if they did it would only be for a little while and dangerous in the process, utes aren’t trucks anymore, they like mine have leather interiors, climate...

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        1 year ago
  • Yeh the brakes and suspension are different and more family squed with the SUV type ute based ones’s some don’t use a separate chassis like on Pajero Sport, and independent rears aren’t as good as leaf spring and big drums, I guess my decision is based on 5 trips now to Japan and touring the factories each time, I’ve been lucky to go for a month at a time so I could sneak away from the normal tours and tourist strips to see Toyota twice and Suzuki, Honda Bikes,

    Madza, Nissan, and Hino. I just like the fact they own and design the entire car, from a headlight to window glass to the operating system for the radio. Even the winch that winds the spare tyre down is a Denso product! Ha ha!

      1 year ago