Sales of large SUVs in Australia are up across both the mainstream and premium segments, and the wide spread of makes and models makes the vehicle class one of the most competitive in the country.

    Year-to-date (YTD), mainstream large SUV (under $70,000) sales are up 39.9 per cent to 88,073 sales (+25,129 units) as of September 30, while premium models (over $70,000) are up 34.4 per cent YTD to 16,258 sales (+4163 units).

    Here, we’re going to look at the Top 5 Winners of the Large SUV segment so far in 2021. Let us know your thoughts in the comments, and if any of the following vehicles surprised you with their results this year.

    Note: The below list includes model lines with substantial year-to-date growth with at least 1.0 per cent market share.

    MORE: VFACTS sales data coverage

    Land Rover Defender: 1495 sales, +582.6 per cent

    There’s no question the iconic Land Rover Defender has resonated with Australian buyers, increasing its sales by nearly seven-fold and more than quadrupling its market share compared to the Jan-Sep period in 2020.

    Land Rover has been quite candid about ongoing stock shortages and supply issues, though has still managed to deliver 1495 Defenders through to September 30 for a 9.2 per cent share of the premium large SUV segment, an increase of 582.6 per cent (+1276 units).

    Since the sales launch last year, Land Rover has bolstered the local line-up with a three-door Defender 90 range, and launched the Ingenium 3.0-litre turbo-diesel inline six engine in several states of tune.

    Sales of the supercharged V8 variant, available in both 90 and 110 body styles, have begun with deliveries to commence in the coming months.

    MORE: Everything Land Rover Defender

    Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe: 807 sales, +438.0 per cent

    The Three-Pointed Star’s largest SUV coupe model has seen substantial growth in 2021, no doubt helped by this year’s release of the popular AMG 53 and AMG 63 performance models.

    So far, as of September 30, Mercedes-Benz Australia has recorded 807 registrations of the GLE Coupe, an increase of 438.0 per cent (+657 units) on the same period in 2020.

    Further, the GLE Coupe has increased its share of the premium large SUV market from 1.2 per cent to 5.0 per cent. Combined with the top-selling GLE Wagon, Mercedes-Benz currently accounts for 21.0 per cent of the segment’s sales, or more than one in five premium large SUV registrations.

    Interestingly, the GLE Coupe has almost doubled the BMW X6’s volume (437 units, -2.9 per cent) in 2021 so far, and has more than doubled the sales performance of the Porsche Cayenne Coupe (361 units, +0.6 per cent).

    MORE: Everything Mercedes-Benz GLE

    LDV D90: 1025 sales, +151.2 per cent

    China’s answer to the Ford Everest and Isuzu MU-X is finding favour with Aussie buyers in 2021, doubling its market share YTD to 1.2 per cent with 1025 sales.

    While it’s far from a top-seller in one of the most tightly-contested vehicle segments in Australia, the LDV D90 outsells the SsangYong Rexton by nearly two to one (537 units, +174.0 per cent) and is within reach of the Jeep Wrangler (1388 units, +67.6 per cent) and Skoda Kodiaq (1568 units, +20.0 per cent).

    Originally launched as a turbo petrol-only proposition, the D90 added a 160kW/480Nm 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel option on the flagship Executive grade in 2020, which at $48,990 drive-away is priced around the entry point of most established rivals despite being a top-spec model.

    Despite being a relative bargain and enjoying a decent sales bump in 2021, the D90 is outsold by the popular Isuzu MU-X by more than eight to one (8431 units, +67.9 per cent).

    MORE: Everything LDV D90

    Subaru Outback: 7259 sales, +113.2 per cent

    The new-generation Subaru Outback has hit the ground running, consistently reporting more than 1000 monthly sales since its launch earlier this year and more than doubling its volume year-to-date.

    Up by 113.2 per cent YTD to 7259 units, the Outback has increased its sales by 3854 units compared to the same period in 2020, and it’s currently running third in the 2021 mainstream large SUV sales race behind the Toyota Prado (17,326 units, +61.5 per cent) and Isuzu MU-X (8431 units, +67.9 per cent).

    Subaru’s largest crossover has also increased its market share from 5.4 per cent to 8.2 per cent during the Jan-Sep period in 2021.

    Just three variants are currently on sale in Australia, starting at $39,990 for the entry-level simply called ‘Outback AWD’.

    MORE: Everything Subaru Outback

    Mazda CX-8: 4763 sales, up 107.4 per cent

    Mazda’s diesel-powered sibling to the popular CX-9 is having a record run, doubling its sales so far this year and increasing market share to 5.4 per cent (+1.8 per cent).

    With 4763 registrations YTD (+107.4 per cent), the Mazda CX-8 is within 1000 sales of the larger petrol-only CX-9 (5574 units, +15.5 per cent) while ahead of the Kia Sorento (4111 sales, +69.2 per cent) and Hyundai Santa Fe (4032 sales, +15.9 per cent).

    Mazda Australia launched an updated CX-8 range earlier this year, bringing enhanced equipment levels across the range as well as two new variants: the sporty-looking Touring SP and the luxurious Asaki LE with its six-seat nappa leather-lined interior.

    The CX-8’s sales success comes as the current generation nears the end of its life, with Mazda recently announcing a raft of all-new SUV models to be launched during the course of 2022 and 2023. This includes a CX-80 that CarExpert understands will be the CX-8’s successor and ride on a rear-/all-wheel drive platform with available six-cylinder petrol and diesel engines.

    MORE: Everything Mazda CX-8

    James Wong

    James Wong is the Production Editor at CarExpert based in Melbourne, Australia. With experience on both media and manufacturer sides of the industry, James has a specialty for product knowledge which stems from a life-long obsession with cars. James is a Monash University journalism graduate, an avid tennis player, and the proud charity ambassador for Drive Against Depression – an organisation that supports mental wellness through the freedom of driving and the love of cars. He's also the proud father of Freddy, a 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI .

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