The Kia Sorento has kicked off 2021 with a bang, but don’t expect its rivals to tolerate that for long.

    Kia sold 745 of its redesigned, three-row Sorento in January 2021, a 189.9 per cent increase over January 2020 and good for a 10.0 per cent share of VFACTS’ Large SUVs under $70,000 segment.

    That gave it almost three times as much market share as January 2020, in a segment that was up 5.6 per cent overall.

    The Sorento was the second best-selling model in the segment, rocketing past perennial second-place finisher, the Toyota Kluger.

    The Kluger plummeted by 74.6 per cent to 10th place in the segment with just 244 examples sold.

    The news isn’t all bad for Toyota, though, with the indefatigable Toyota LandCruiser Prado remaining atop the segment with 1359 sales and 18.2 per cent market share, up 10.5 per cent.

    A replacement for the Kluger is also imminent, with a new model on the TNGA platform due in the first half of this year.

    Like the hot-selling current generation of RAV4, the Kluger range will also include a hybrid powertrain for the first time in Australia.

    Every generation of Kluger has been available with a hybrid engine in various overseas markets, though we’ve always missed out.

    Sales of the Mazda CX-8 were up 256.9 per cent to 571, allowing it to tick past its larger CX-9 stablemate in January (478, down 2.4 per cent).

    An updated CX-9 has now landed with two new trim levels and a larger infotainment screen.

    The redesigned Hyundai Santa Fe tied the CX-8 for third place in the segment. An all-wheel drive hybrid model will arrive in the second half of this year to put the fight to the upcoming Kluger Hybrid and hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of the Sorento.

    Just behind the Santa Fe and CX-8 was the Isuzu MU-X (541 sales, up 23 per cent), making it the second best-selling body-on-frame large SUV and narrowly beating the Ford Everest (532, up 8.6 per cent).

    Rival body-on-frame SUVs like the Toyota Fortuner (181, down 19.9 per cent) and, surprisingly, the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport (190, down 42.4 per cent) were well behind, with the latter just two units ahead of the moribund Pajero.

    The Fortuner only recently received an update with a torquier turbo-diesel engine, while the MU-X will receive a full redesign that’ll touch down here towards the end of the year.

    If you include two-row SUVs, the Subaru Outback narrowly squeaked past the MU-X with 554 sales. A replacement for this has also been revealed and goes on sale in April, though some are already on display at dealerships.

    The Hyundai Palisade is off to a strong start with 240 sales, doubling its December 2020 figure and putting it ahead of SUVs like the Jeep Grand Cherokee (194, down 10.6 per cent) which, you guessed it, will also be replaced this year.

    The Grand Cherokee will initially debut in three-row L guise, belatedly giving Jeep a direct rival to three-row crossovers like the Kluger albeit with likely superior off-road ability.

    Ignoring defunct models like the Ford Endura, the largest percentage decline belonged to the Nissan Pathfinder (59 sales, down 59.6 per cent).

    The next-generation Pathfinder is being revealed this week, though we don’t have local launch timings yet.

    At the other end of the spectrum, the body-on-frame LDV D90 registered 113 sales, a 370.8 per cent increase albeit from a low base.

    That was more than three times as many sales as its fellow countryman and arch-rival, the Haval H9 (33 sales, up 32.0 per cent).

    Another surprising increase occurred with the Mitsubishi Pajero, which was up 60.7 per cent to 188 sales.

    It was a surprising rally as Pajero loyalists appear to be handing over their money to get one in its last year on sale.

    ModelSalesPercentage change
    Toyota LandCruiser Prado1359+10.5
    Kia Sorento745+189.9
    Hyundai Santa Fe571+21.7
    Mazda CX-8571+256.9
    Subaru Outback554+70.5
    Isuzu MU-X541+23.0
    Ford Everest532+8.6
    Mazda CX-9478-2.4
    Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace331+6.1
    Toyota Kluger244-74.6
    Hyundai Palisade240New
    Jeep Grand Cherokee194-10.6
    Mitsubishi Pajero Sport190-42.4
    Mitsubishi Pajero188+60.7
    Toyota Fortuner181-19.9
    Skoda Kodiaq170+12.6
    William Stopford

    William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel, briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

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