Can SUV owners ever love sedans again?
JOIN me in tearful reflection as we remember the dearly departed family sedan.
Once the staple of Australian families, the last few years have been unkind to sedans as the relentless surge of the bullying SUV continues unabated.
There's been no change in 2015. Figures for the first half of the year shows large cars are down 13.2% over 2014. And as if to rub salt water into rusty wounds, Aussie SUV sales are up 13.8% over the same period.
I'll tell you why that's a shame. It's not because SUVs are bad. It's because our current crop of mid and large size sedans on sale is better than it's ever been, yet buyers often home in on SUVs exclusively.
To list the affordables: Ford Mondeo, Kia Optima, Mazda6, Skoda Octavia or Superb, Hyundai Sonata or i40 and the Toyota Camry. Then the on-death-row Commodores and Falcons: the last ones will be the best ones.
Regardless, SUVs are so hot right now, and reasons are many. Higher driving position, towing ability, off road ability, cargo space, a third row of seats, the feeling of greater safety and a style that's very much in vogue.
Mostly valid points, but some of these can be debunked (would you ever really take the family off-roading in a Kia Sorento?), not least the safety bit. While your SUV may feel more solid, they are often less manoeuvrable than sedans with a higher centre of gravity: not ideal in an emergency situation.
Sedan positives? In my mind and generally speaking, better fuel economy, cheaper service and tyre costs, more satisfying to drive, easier to park and more comfortable on sealed road journeys. So while I'm banging the drum, I thought I'd show off our long-term test Hyundai Sonata Premium to a few SUV owners to see if they'd still consider one of these "dinosaurs" of the car market.
The Sonata raised a few eyebrows with its excellent cargo space and sleek design, but most couldn't comprehend sitting that low in a car anymore. Sedans, it appears the battle may already be lost.
Name: Jenna Cairney.
Current car: 2011 Toyota RAV4 CV 2WD.
Why did you buy an SUV? I like sitting up high and can get bikes and a board in easy. I prefer stepping up and in to my RAV4; I'd never get a small car.
How does the Hyundai Sonata compare? Sedans just aren't a 'thing' anymore, are they? My RAV4 is neat and dinky, and you're so low in the Sonata that it would be harder to park.
Would you buy a sedan? I wouldn't buy a sedan unless it was an Audi. Even then, I'd prefer an Audi SUV if it weren't for the cost.
Name: Vani Naidoo.
Kids: Sirana, 8, Arlia, 5.
Current car: 2012 Toyota Prado GXL.
Why did you buy an SUV? Because we're a camping family, need the 4x4 capability and enough space to go bush for a couple of weeks.
How does the Hyundai Sonata compare? Its space compares quite well to the Prado, there's so much rear leg room. The dash looks better on the Hyundai and it has all the creature comforts a family needs. The boot is impressive but has a smaller opening than the Prado, and loading kids in the back seat is harder in a sedan.
Would you buy a sedan? I like the Sonata, but no, we need the off-road capability.
Name: Paul Stuart.
Kids: None (I think).
Current car: 2005 Jeep Cherokee 3.7-litre 6-cylinder.
Why did you buy an SUV? It's the right size for my lifestyle, I like the ride height, its turning circle beats some sedans and is four-wheel drive so I can take it up the beach. It is expensive to run though.
How does the Hyundai Sonata compare? It's too low, I can't see above the traffic and I don't feel as safe with my bum so close to the bitumen. The Sonata's got sufficient space, but loading tall stuff in the back is easier in my Jeep.
Would you buy a sedan? No. The Sonata may be better to drive than an SUV, but if I wanted a real driver's car it would be a two-seat sports car, not a sedan.
Name: Geoff Crockett.
Kids: Genevieve, 6, Eleanor, 2.
Current car: 2015 Toyota Kluger 2WD GX.
Why did you buy an SUV? We need space for the kids' car seats and the grandparents. There's good space for road trips and sport gear, and my wife likes to be high up and an SUV is easier to put the kids in. They look good and feel safer.
How does the Hyundai Sonata compare? An impressive boot size and I much prefer driving a sedan than an SUV as their floatiness doesn't appeal. With two child seats though, I couldn't fit another adult in the back of the Sonata.
Would you buy a sedan? Yes, as a second car, although I'd prefer a wagon. We'd still need the SUV as well though.
Name: Patrick Woods.
Kids: Lily, 9, Hannah, 11.
Current car: 2008 Toyota Prado GXL.
Why did you buy an SUV? The family loves camping so we get more freedom with a 4WD. Its good on the bitumen, has seven seats and it's a diesel so fuel costs aren't too bad.
How does the Hyundai Sonata compare? It's a bloody big boot, enough for a large family. Height-wise it's not as good for loading, but I like its sleek look, performance and handling in the corners.
Would you buy a sedan? You could get me in one, but our lifestyle involves plenty of off-road exploring so life without a 4WD isn't an option.