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Toyota RAV4 vs Mazda CX-5: Does Australia have a new favourite SUV?

Since launching in May, the new-generation RAV4 has proven to be a commercial and critical success for Toyota.

The Toyota RAV4 looks poised to steal the most-popular SUV sales crown from the Mazda CX-5 as interest in the former surges on the back of the fifth-generation model introduction in May this year.

Last year, the Mazda CX-5 mid-size SUV was the best-selling crossover in Australia, but the CarsGuide car of the year-winning RAV4 is quickly closing the gap as shown in the latest October sales data.

With 26,173 sales to its name in 2018, the Mazda CX-5 outsold the Toyota RAV4 (22,165 units) by just over 4000 units.

This year however, the sales race is a lot closer, with year-to-date figures putting the Japanese mid-size SUV rivals within 2244 units of one another.

The Mazda CX-5 is still leading though, with sales figures to the end of October revealing 21,976 new registrations this year, a slight 0.9 per cent dip over the same period last year.

On the other hand, Toyota has found 19,732 new homes for the RAV4 in the first 10 months of trading, a sizeable 6.7 per cent increase year-on-year.

With the new RAV4 only hitting in May, the Toyota mid-size crossover’s first full-year on sale could surpass the evergreen Mazda CX-5, which has been at the top of the SUV sales table since 2013.

In fact, since May, the Toyota RAV4 has managed to outsell the CX-5, with 13,639 new registrations for the former and 13,031 for the latter.

Last year, the Mazda CX-5 mid-size SUV was the best-selling crossover in Australia. Last year, the Mazda CX-5 mid-size SUV was the best-selling crossover in Australia.

An instant success since its introduction in 2012, the CX-5 finished as the third best-selling SUV in its debut year behind the Toyota Prado (17,045) and Nissan X-Trail (16,066), with the Toyota RAV4 finishing that year in fourth with 14,651 sales, just ahead of the Ford Territory (14,646).

Mazda has managed to grow its CX-5 share each successive year, except in 2016 where sales declined slightly, but 2019 looks to be another year of shrinking sales as the overall market takes a dive.

Of course, Mazda prioritises private sales over fleet, but the current second-generation CX-5 has been on showroom floors since March 2017, with updates such as a turbocharged engine and increased equipment introduced since.

Expect to see a slight update to the CX-5 next year as Mazda brings in running changes to its existing line up, though the introduction of the CX-30 small-to-mid-size SUV could cannibalise sales slightly.

Pricing for the Mazda CX-5 kicks off at $30,880 before on-road costs and tops out at $50,630.

A Mazda Australia spokesperson told CarsGuide: “The industry continues to be in a challenging position given the economic pressure the country and consumers are under in 2019.

“Mazda’s sales results continue to track according to our projection with strong performances from the popular CX-3 and CX-5 SUVs, and with the exciting CX-30 SUV launching in the early part of next year, we’re confident Mazda has a vehicle for everybody,” they said.

The box-fresh fifth-gen RAV4 meanwhile, touched down in earlier this year with the range now kicking off at $30,990 and extending to $44,990.

Pricing has crept up $350 across the range since launch due to “a variety of economic and business factors” that also brought up pricing of the Land Cruiser 200 Series, according to a Toyota Australia spokesperson.

A long wait list of up to six months for popular variants will likely hamper Toyota’s run for the best-selling SUV in Australia this year, but the RAV4 has a real chance of taking out the crown sometime next year.

Toyota Australia already lays claim to the top-selling nameplate and the best-selling passenger car in the form of the HiLux and Corolla models respectively, so if the RAV4 can overtake the CX-5, it would cement the brand’s Australian market dominance.

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