This generation of seven-seat MPVs and SUVs became the new aspirational cars, prized for their practicality, efficient powertrains, and imposing road presence. I wasn’t surprised that when he was due to purchase a new ride, my father opted for a Fortuner instead of an Accord. An SUV is much more versatile than a midsize sedan, he reasoned. He also began thinking of selling the Civic, but for a few more years, it was spared by virtue of being easy to drive and having an automatic transmission.
From 2005 to 2007, the Innova was the best-selling vehicle in the country, and if it weren’t for the onset of the recession, perhaps the Vios wouldn’t have seized the top of the charts or hung on to it for as long as it did. Fuel efficiency was the biggest selling point of subcompacts during those troubled economic times. And, when the economy recovered and thrived from the start of this decade, the small-sedan segment was buoyed up by fleet sales and the influx of first-time, entry-level car buyers.
You could argue that the Fortuner only emerged as last year’s sales leader because of the impending excise-tax increase. Instead of waiting until this year, buyers made their purchases in the final quarter of 2017. The thing is, this panic-buying spree only highlighted the true preference of the market: The majority of buyers rushed to buy what they truly aspired to own.
Carmakers, having long shifted their focus to the crossovers and the SUVs in their product portfolios, are coming out with an increasing number of entry-level LCVs, too. Where sub-P1-million buyers used to have only subcompacts, base-variant sedans, and AUVs to choose from, they now have the likes of the Ford EcoSport, the Honda BR-V, the Suzuki Ertiga, and the much-talked-about Mitsubishi Xpander and Toyota Rush.