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Which are Canberra’s most popular cars?

By Jane Speechley 12 November 2016 33

Recently, and in the lead-up to the ACT election, I wrote about the cars that are driven by our current and aspiring political leaders.

This led me to wonder – what about the rest of us?

Before reading on, would you like to hazard a guess at the ACT’s most popular vehicles?

There have been a few articles in the past about the most popular cars in Canberra, but none recently. So I got in touch with the ACT Government team to get the latest stats.

As at 1 July 2016, there were 321,028 vehicles registered.

This includes a whopping 161,730 passenger sedans, 70,051 station wagons, and 25,866 light trucks.

Interestingly, we’re currently hauling 27,830 goods trailers around as well. So you should have no trouble finding someone to help you move after all.

As for our most popular vehicles, let’s count down the Top Ten*.

10. Holden Astra
image122765_b
The Holden team have been in Canberra this week for the national launch of the new Astra, so they’ll be pleased to know there are 3,815 of these handy little hatches already zipping their way around Canberra’s streets. And with the brand new model recently named 2016 European Car of the Year, this number is sure to increase.

9. Mitsubishi Lancer
image133226_b
Mitsubishi’s struggles over the past few years are well known, but it’s still a favourite in the ACT. With a history of more than 20 years in Australia, and pitched as ‘for the young and young at heart’, the territory is home to around 4,724 of these.

8. Subaru Forester
image134970_b
Reflecting Canberrans’ infamous love for the outdoors, the Subaru Forester is a popular choice with 4,889 on the road. Most of which are very likely carrying a mountain bike or two on the roof, a dog in the back, and a heap of well-used camping gear scattered throughout.

7. Toyota Hilux
15hilux_66lr
Across Australia, the ute is being tipped as the ‘new family car’, though this is the only one to crack the Top Ten in our region. Favoured by tradies and urban cowboys alike, the Toyota Hilux is on track to become Australia’s top selling car overall in 2016, and there are around 5,302 on our roads.

6. Volkswagon Golf
image142161_b
Take a look around any inner suburban carparks on a Saturday morning and this will come as no surprise to you. A great lifestyle car and widely recognised as a more prestigious option in the hatchback category, the Volkswagen Golf is the car of choice for our reigning Chief Minister, and his is one of 5,662 that are currently registered.

5. Toyota Camry
toy_camry_rz_160520b9101lr
At the end of 2017, Toyota will be the last manufacturing plant to close its doors in Australia and the Camry will be the last model off the line; literally, the last car ever to be made in Australia. Until then, it remains a solid choice for a mid-size family sedan, and with 8,437 on Canberra’s streets, it takes out fifth position.

4. Mazda3
image141909_b
My Dad – the very example of a motoring enthusiast – always said that Mazda never made a bad car, and it looks like a lot of Canberrans agree. We’re currently driving around 9,268 of these bad boys, so it powers into the top half of our Top Ten, ahead of many of its competitors.

3. Toyota Corolla
toy_corolla_zr_150520b3655lr
Taking out the third spot for Toyota, and previously reported as sitting right at the top of the list, Toyota’s versatile and resilient little hatch has slipped down. It still holds a strong position though, with 11,680 examples on the streets.

2. Ford Falcon
image120143_b
If you’re a Ford fan, this will bring a little tear to the eye, as the last ever Falcons rolled off the production line in October (and were subsequently sold to raise more than $300K for charity). Never fear though, because with 11,735 of these registered in Canberra, you’ll be spotting them for a while yet.

And – drum roll please – Canberra’s most popular car is …

1. Holden Commodore
image128215_b
Did you pick it? The popularity of the ubiquitous Commodore spans all demographics. The ACT is definitely the place to hear the lion roar, with 12,746 of these babies in all their forms growling through our suburbs.

What do you think? Do any of these results surprise you?

Note: I had to tweak the data provided by the ACT Government to fix some user-entry errors as well as group together different models of the same type. So the numbers are approximate and may be a little off if I missed a few, but shouldn’t be enough to affect the order.

What’s Your opinion?


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33 Responses to
Which are Canberra’s most popular cars?
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dungfungus 12:46 pm 19 Nov 16

jim7777 said :

Well the real issue here for all canberrans should be the divide in vehicle size that is happening all over Australia , small hatchback/ sedans versas large utes or trucks .. these two types of vehicle are becoming the major choice as large sedans sales here and globally are down over 50% in the last 10 years , the Real problem this represents is car fatalities due to accidents … simply put if a hilux runs into your corolla at 60 plus klms per hour you have a extremely high chance of death .. the hilux/ranger weight over 2.2tonne unladen the basic corolla or any small car has the most basic safety tech in base trim .. yet the A.C.T goveenemnt is encouraging there purchase under the new vehicle tax duty brought in last year as most emit less than 130gm perklm of CO2 .. A disaster of a policy that will drive up the ACT road toll for years to come … i say this because this Tax should have been about safety and human lives not CO2 … the Safer the car the less Tax duty on new registration.. i emailed my concerns last year to Andrew Barr and was greated with a reply about Ancap safety standards .. Ancap does singular fixed crash testing and has never completed crash testing in real world of size comparison vehicle crash testing… even the NHTSA of america recently advised parents that under 25 yr old driver are safer in a larger heavier vehicle in a crash

Does that mean people over 25yo who drive medium and small cars are expendable?

dujdjicndjdb 12:46 am 19 Nov 16

My god just do a simple statistical study modelled on a good sample size and how many cars pass you at a very average spot within a few hours you will have an answer or we can Ford and Holden until the rooster lays the golden egg.

jim7777 7:45 pm 17 Nov 16

Well the real issue here for all canberrans should be the divide in vehicle size that is happening all over Australia , small hatchback/ sedans versas large utes or trucks .. these two types of vehicle are becoming the major choice as large sedans sales here and globally are down over 50% in the last 10 years , the Real problem this represents is car fatalities due to accidents … simply put if a hilux runs into your corolla at 60 plus klms per hour you have a extremely high chance of death .. the hilux/ranger weight over 2.2tonne unladen the basic corolla or any small car has the most basic safety tech in base trim .. yet the A.C.T goveenemnt is encouraging there purchase under the new vehicle tax duty brought in last year as most emit less than 130gm perklm of CO2 .. A disaster of a policy that will drive up the ACT road toll for years to come … i say this because this Tax should have been about safety and human lives not CO2 … the Safer the car the less Tax duty on new registration.. i emailed my concerns last year to Andrew Barr and was greated with a reply about Ancap safety standards .. Ancap does singular fixed crash testing and has never completed crash testing in real world of size comparison vehicle crash testing… even the NHTSA of america recently advised parents that under 25 yr old driver are safer in a larger heavier vehicle in a crash

Maya123 4:23 pm 17 Nov 16

devils_advocate said :

Ezy said :

Besides the Hilux, which I can only guess is popular with the tradies, the two most popular cars are also the least fuel efficient.

Depends if you judge the fuel efficiency of a car based on its official fuel consumption figure or not. In actual driving conditions, very small-engined and lower-powered cars tend to have much higher gear ratios and need to be driven hard in order to keep up with the traffic or get up gradients. By contrast, commodores and falcons tend to operation in the 1100-1500rpm range, and have taller gearing. Once driving style is accounted for there’s little difference in the actual fuel consumption between mid-sized sedans and their larger counterparts.

I have found my Subaru XV’s official fuel consumption is in the 6s, but in actual driving conditions I get a higher 7.4. In fact when I recently drove it to the NT it got up to 9.4 at its worse, but lowered to 7.4 on my return. At least it’s better fuel wise than my previous car, a Holden Vectra, which was over 11.

devils_advocate 12:20 pm 17 Nov 16

Ezy said :

Besides the Hilux, which I can only guess is popular with the tradies, the two most popular cars are also the least fuel efficient.

Depends if you judge the fuel efficiency of a car based on its official fuel consumption figure or not. In actual driving conditions, very small-engined and lower-powered cars tend to have much higher gear ratios and need to be driven hard in order to keep up with the traffic or get up gradients. By contrast, commodores and falcons tend to operation in the 1100-1500rpm range, and have taller gearing. Once driving style is accounted for there’s little difference in the actual fuel consumption between mid-sized sedans and their larger counterparts.

dungfungus 7:54 am 17 Nov 16

Maryann Mussared said :

dungfungus said :

Maryann Mussared said :

I couldn’t be happier with my VW Golf. After many good Japanese cars, I was attracted by the low fuel consumption and internal finish. I wasn’t completely happy with the dealer, but now I am having my car serviced with the VW Centre in Belconnen, (and it doesn’t affect my warranty) I know I made the right decision.

Did you get one made in South Africa or one made in Mexico?

Now that made me go racing for the computer and Google! My model was produced in both Germany and South Africa. If the 11th letter of the VIN is a W it was produced in Germany and if it is a U it was South Africa.

I checked and it is a W. A lot of VWs are produced in Mexico now, especially for the USA market.

While you are “hot” with internet searches, check out some of the forums on problems with the Golf.

Hope you haven’t got a diesel with the accursed DPF.

wildturkeycanoe 6:43 am 17 Nov 16

Felix the Cat said :

Surprised that except for the Subaru Forester that more SUV/soft-roader vehicles such as Ford territory or Rav4 don’t get a mention. Drive past any school at 9am and there are dozens of them, more than normal sedan type cars.

I think for similar reasons you will find a lot of utes parked outside construction sites or hatchbacks at a university. Family SUVs are popular because they can fit the 2.3 children in the back, whereas smaller cars don’t have room for three booster seats side by side. If you need to bring a stroller for a shopping trip, an SUV is almost a must because sedans and hatches simply haven’t got the space. There is also the added benefit of sitting higher in traffic which gives soccer parents that all important ego boost because they can look down on the rest of society, not to mention the bonus of extra ground clearance to jump kerbs. Then on really rainy days, the all wheel drive can get them out of the sinking overflow dirt car parks that are necessary because of a lack of enough proper parking at sports ovals.
On the weekend they can take their family SUV out to the Brindabellas or to the mountain lakes for a family fishing or hiking trip, without needing to turn back at the sign on the entry to the national park that states “Road Closed Ahead – Four Wheel Drive Vehicles Excepted”. With an SUV they only need one car to do all tasks and with a small petrol or turbo diesel engine they save money too. Some have seven seat capacity which for us is important when relatives come to visit. With our Pajero we can fit our entire family plus a couple of guests to go out for dinner or shopping. Try doing that in a Commodore.

creative_canberran 2:25 pm 16 Nov 16

A big caveat with that list would be personal versus commercial and fleet registrations. When you consider fleets (including taxi fleets, but excluding the Z plated vehicles) favour Commodores, Falcons and Camrys, and then those cars tend to be very big on the used market, explains why they’re high on the list. Corolla makes sense, it’s been a top seller for years now in Australia, though I think only recently deservedly so since they finally took out that tractor transmission from the Soviet era. And the Forester doesn’t surprise me. On any given trip around Tidbinbilla or Paddys River, I see at least a dozen of them. Lancer is a surprise, until the recent refresh, it was a very outdated 10year old design that really only appealed to the track set.

rommeldog56 11:59 am 16 Nov 16

Maryann Mussared said :

Now that made me go racing for the computer and Google! My model was produced in both Germany and South Africa. If the 11th letter of the VIN is a W it was produced in Germany and if it is a U it was South Africa.

I checked and it is a W. A lot of VWs are produced in Mexico now, especially for the USA market.

Yep – but does it have the DSG gearbox ??? That gearbox is great when it works but there is a cloud over its reliability & longevity. Not uncommon for the VW DSG gearbox to fail with less than 100k on the clock. Ouch……

Maryann Mussared 10:05 am 16 Nov 16

dungfungus said :

Maryann Mussared said :

I couldn’t be happier with my VW Golf. After many good Japanese cars, I was attracted by the low fuel consumption and internal finish. I wasn’t completely happy with the dealer, but now I am having my car serviced with the VW Centre in Belconnen, (and it doesn’t affect my warranty) I know I made the right decision.

Did you get one made in South Africa or one made in Mexico?

Now that made me go racing for the computer and Google! My model was produced in both Germany and South Africa. If the 11th letter of the VIN is a W it was produced in Germany and if it is a U it was South Africa. I checked and it is a W. A lot of VWs are produced in Mexico now, especially for the USA market.

JC 1:51 pm 15 Nov 16

Jane Speechley said :

John Moulis said :

There seem to be a disproportionate number of utes on the road in Canberra, both the traditional-style Holden type ute and the American pick-up truck style – HiLux, Ford Ranger and Colorado – as well as the flatbeds. Indeed when I went to Sydney recently the thing which struck me was the lack of utes on the road there. I even commented on that to the taxi driver on the way to Bondi Beach.

That’s really interesting, John! I wonder why … if it was 4WDs or SUVs, you could put it down to our outdoorsy lifestyle. Do we have more tradies per capita than most cities? Or are we all just earning enough to be able to run larger cars??

Might have been more to do with the fact he was in a taxi heading to Bondi more than anything. Head west and not too much different to what you see here.

dungfungus 9:34 am 15 Nov 16

Maryann Mussared said :

I couldn’t be happier with my VW Golf. After many good Japanese cars, I was attracted by the low fuel consumption and internal finish. I wasn’t completely happy with the dealer, but now I am having my car serviced with the VW Centre in Belconnen, (and it doesn’t affect my warranty) I know I made the right decision.

Did you get one made in South Africa or one made in Mexico?

dungfungus 7:49 pm 14 Nov 16

Holden Caulfield said :

dungfungus said :

Holden Caulfield said :

dungfungus said :

The only other recent Australian car that could accommodate a tall person as driver was the Holden Cruze , production of which stopped last month.

LOL. I’d like to hear your definition of Australian car. Because chopping the boot off a South Korean sedan, making a it a hatch and then building it locally, doesn’t really meet my definition. Especially when trying to say it was designed for our market.

It was another failed exercise in trying to keep local manufacturing alive. Points for trying, I guess, but best not to start by meddling with what was a relatively unpopular car to begin with.

I’m talking about the sedan version, not the hatch. The sedan version was built in both Korea and Australia – it was not a hatch “add-on” as you suggest.

The leg room must have been designed for Australia because few other would be able to reach the pedals with the driver’s seat in full back position.

By the way, I do not post comments for “points”.

That’s good because the points weren’t for you, haha, rather they were for Holden’s doomed attempt to remain relevant by competing with Toyota/Mazda/Volkswagen et al in the hatch segment. The Cruze was never going to provide a viable or long term return on investment for local manufacturing against its competition.

I stand corrected on the sedan being built here as well, but regardless of any involvement Holden had in the Cruze’s development, I’m not sure it should ever be described as an Australian car.

If you subscribe to that mind-set then neither should the Commodore (based on the German Opel Kommodore) and the Falcon (derived originally from the North American Ford Falcon) be described as Australian cars.

The Leyland P76 however was an Australian car, also the last model of the Mitsubishi Magna.

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