2016 Recap: Top 7 Best-Selling SUVs In Malaysia

2016 Recap: Top 7 Best-Selling SUVs In Malaysia


The SUV is more than a car. When you drive an SUV, you tell people that you are sporty, young-at-heart and adventurous. It defines your lifestyle.

For many years, the Honda CR-V was the best-selling SUV in Malaysia as well as many other countries. Well, sales have fallen off as the market waits for its replacement and the CR-V was overtaken by the all-new Nissan X-Trail a few months ago.

With a few days left to the end of the year, it’s likely that the new king of the SUV will be the stylish new Nissan X-Trail with about 8,000 units sold to Dec. 14, according to Chris Tan, DGM of product planning and marketing, Edaran Tan Chong, the Nissan distributor in Malaysia.

The Nissan X-Trail is stylish with an emotional design language that’s hitting the hot buttons of today’s Gen Y crowd.

Coined from the words, sports utility vehicle, the SUV is necessarily a four-wheel drive, either part-time or a full-time all-wheel-drive transmission. There’s no running away from the “utility” in SUV.

If it looks like an SUV but it doesn’t have all-wheel drive capability then it’s what we call a cross-over and cross overs cost about 10 per cent to 20 per cent less than a four-wheel drive car.

These cross-over vehicles address a new market segment and we’ll do a separate review. Watch this space.

The SUV is one of the fastest growing passenger car segments and it has evolved from body on frame chassis to monocoque design. The Toyota Fortuner and the Mitsubishi Pajero Sports still retain the ladder chassis - which is also called the body on frame – and while this robust construction design is popular in Sabah and Sarawak, it doesn’t command the popularity of the more comfortable and maneuverable monocoque construction of the top selling SUV’s.

The SUV has evolved from the basic utility, step-ladder chassis Land Rover and Toyota BJ to comfortable all-wheel drives with automatic transmission, air-conditioning and climate control for both front and rear seats, and independent front suspension for good turning circle.

There are seven seaters for bigger families, split folding rear seats, and low rear sills to make it easier to load up, especially for those bicycling enthusiasts.

Ground clearance is higher so that campers and angling enthusiasts can take their all-wheel drive SUV off the beaten trail.

The top selling SUV in Malaysia in 2016:

1. Nissan X-Trail

nissan-x-trailThe Nissan X-Trail is an all-new SUV that shouts Styling with a capital S. At around 8,000 units sold this year, the fresh-looking X-Trail outnumbered the reputable-but-dated Honda CR-V. Anyway, the market is also waiting for the new CR-V and that could be a reason why it was overtaken by the X-Trail.

The X-Trail is arguably the most handsome SUV in this list, with exterior elements that are easy on the eyes. Despite the exciting exterior design, the cabin of the X-Trail receives conservative architecture but is well-equipped.

Constructed on the Renault-Nissan Alliance’s Common Module Family (CMF) platform, buyers of the 2.5-litre SUV will get to play with three drive mode from its All Mode Intelligent 4x4-i system. There’s also an array of electronic driving assists such as Active Ride Control and Active Engine Brake in the Active Chassis Control package. At RM159k, the X-Trail is priced at median point in the segment.

Engine: 2.5-litre petrol

Price: RM159,164.00

The list of the rest of the top-selling SUVs, in alphabetical order:

2. Honda CR-V


At second place, the Honda CR-V carries the brand’s strong reputation for reliability and affordable cost of ownership among Malaysian, accompanied by extensive dealers and service centers. With new-generation CR-V set to arrive in 2017, the outgoing CR-V proves to be one of Malaysia’s favorite SUV.

All-wheel-drive setup is available in 2.0-litre and 2.4-litre mills, both i-VTEC, churning out 153 hp/190 Nm and 188 hp/222 Nm respectively. The range-topping 2.4 4WD is also equipped with paddle shifters and Honda LaneWatch which displays real-time video of left-hand side blind spot via a 6-inch screen on the centre console.

Engine: 2.0-litre SOHC i-VTEC petrol, 2.4-litre DOHC i-VTEC petrol

Price: From RM150,800.00

3. Kia Sorento


The Kia Sorento features clean lines and curves on its bulky exterior styling. The latest UM-generation SUV is also a massive people carrier, measures at a whopping 4,780mm long, 1,890mm wide and 1,685mm tall, thus making it larger than the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, Nissan X-Trail and even its sibling, the seven-seater Hyundai Santa Fe. Inside, there’s an expansive dashboard, satin chrome air-con vent surrounds and a new three-spoke steering wheel from the new Optima. The Sorento gets 605 litres of luggage capacity with the third row seats folded.

Powertrain-wise, buyers will get to choose from either a 224 Nm 2.4-litre petrol engine or an all-new 441 Nm 2.2-litre turbodiesel, each coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission. With safety features like Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) and ISOFIX child seat anchors, the Sorento is an underrated SUV for what it is. It won the Car of the Year 2016 for SUVs costing up to RM300,00.

Engine: 2.2-litre R CRDi diesel, 2.4-litre Theta II MPI petrol

Price: From RM150,518.00

4. Mazda CX-5


Mazda re-emerged in Malaysia recently as a brand under the Bermaz group and it has gained rapid increase in sales. Previous-generation Mazda models like the Mazda2, Mazda3, CX-9 and CX-7 are not as common to see on Malaysian road compared to its rivals. However, that is not the case with current Mazda offerings. Similar to other Mazda models, the CX-5 encompasses the brand’s design DNA ‘KODO – Soul of Motion’ and an engine line-up composed of the innovative fuel efficient series of SkyActiv-D and SkyAcktiv-G engines.

The CX-5 is the most driver-focused SUV in this list, I would say, with equipment like central tachometer, sporty three-spoke steering design and ergonomics that suggests what Mazda calls as ‘one-ness’ between the car and the driver. The 2.5-litre engine delivers a healthy 185 hp and 250 Nm of torque.

Engine: 2.5-litre SkyActiv petrol

Price: RM166,666.00

5. Mitsubishi ASX


Next on the list is a compact-sized Mitsubishi ASX, featuring a convenient and spacious cabin for four to five occupants. It is not a fresh face, but with pricing from just below RM100k mark and youth-oriented approach, the ASX is a contender with great value and is more appealing to young buyers as well as new families.

Since the differences between the 2WD and 4WD option are too subtle, the ASX is even more prone to being the choice for buyers who only want the hype and look of an SUV without having the need of an all-wheel traction. From the exterior, the range-topping 4WD ASX however can be distinguished from its colour-keyed front bumper with black-painted centre and chrome grille, complemented by a set of 17-inch wheels.

Engine: 2.0-litre MIVEC petrol

Price: RM120,970.22

6. Subaru XV


Based on the fourth-generation Impreza with raised GP platform, the Subaru XV derives the company’s rally heritage into a proper urban family SUV. It gets Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system – similar to the donour sedan – with 60:40 split front-to-rear distribution and is powered by the same 2.0-litre flat-four naturally-aspirated engine from the non-STi WRX sedan.

Helping with the drive is Subaru’s Intelligent Drive system where drivers can choose from three different settings (Intelligent, Sport and Sport Sharp) depending on the driving situation. Despite the focused chassis, the XV is also fitted with DVD navigation system, Bluetooth connectivity, six-speaker sound system, reverse camera and Kenwood 2-DIN radio.

7. Toyota Fortuner


The final one to be on this list is the Toyota Fortuner, an SUV built on Toyota’s Innovative Multipurpose Vehicle (IMV) ladder-chassis platform shared with the Hilux and the Innova. Featuring ‘Keen Look’ design language, the new second-generation Fortuner gets slim projector headlights and LED DRL.

Weighing around two-ton, the new Fortuner is a heavy SUV. But with ladder-frame chassis accompanied by four-wheel drive system with A-TRC (Active Traction Control), the Fortuner has the advantage in terms of off-road capability compared to the rest of the SUVs in this list. Two choices of motors offered for Malaysian market - 2.7 SRZ and 2.4 VRZ – mated to a new six-speed automatic gearbox.

Engine: 2.7-litre petrol, 2.4-litre diesel

Price: From RM181,561.00

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