Australians are buying more SUVS, and less sedans and hatches according to the latest data.

Australians bought 1,113,227 new motor vehicles in 2013, setting a record ironically in a year when Holden and Ford announced their exits from local manufacturing.

The year 2013 was the fourth straight with sales of more than one million units, but while the overall health of the auto industry appears strong, the figures published today by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries reveal our changing personal and business buying trends.

Car sales are waning, SUV sales are booming.

Sales of traditional cars – sedans, hatchbacks, wagons and sports cars – waned by almost 9000 units. Within the category, small cars such as the Toyota Corolla recorded an increase but light, medium and large cars and people-movers lost popularity.

However, it seems the car buyers are not ‘lost’, but simply have switched their preference to increasingly-popular Sport Utility Vehicles. This group picked up more than 26,000 extra new owners. Overall, passenger cars are still more popular, but SUVs are closing the gap fast – and the trend is there to see on our roads every day.

It’s easy to understand why this is happening. With an ever-widening variety of models being imported to meet demand, SUVs are priced from the low-$20k point to more than $250,000. Virtually every one delivers car-like comfort, safety and driveability but with an extra measure of practicality that families especially appreciate.

Another growth trend was in the pick-up/cab-chassis, four-wheel drive light commercial ute segment – the type most popular with tradies. Here, the Toyota HiLux ute retained its mantle as the country’s most popular workhorse.

But more significant for Toyota was its Corolla becoming the biggest-selling car for the first time. Aussies bought 43,498 Corolla hatches and sedans, proof that the days of Commodore dominance have ended forever.

Toyota, with its huge range of passenger, SUV and light commercial models, was the biggest-selling make in Australia for the 11th straight year.

The Top 10 list below says much about the changing auto industry in Australia – Mazda and Hyundai are 3th and 4th, Holden in second sells barely more than half Toyota’s total and once-mighty Ford has slipped to 5th.

It’s clear that while Australians have decried the end of Holden and Ford local manufacturing, they are happy to choose imported models when it comes to their own purchases.

Australian Top 10 vehicle makes (2013)

Toyota 214,630
Holden 112,059
Mazda 103,144
Hyundai 97,006
Ford 87,236
Nissan 76,733
Mitsubishi 71,528
Volkswagen 54,892
Subaru 40,200
Honda 39,258