In 2020, the Kia Sorento was the bestselling SUV car model in South Korea with more than 71 thousand units sold. Kia Motors boasted three different models out of the top five on the list.
Of the most popular SUVs shown in this statistic, the Sante Fe from Hyundai and the Carnival from Kia are considered large SUVs. In contrast, Kia's Seltos and Hyundai’s Kona are compact SUVs, with the Seltos being developed specifically to counter the success of Kona and Tivoli.
Most popular models of SUVs
The four most popular models of SUVs in the Korean market are: the Santa Fe and Kona from Hyundai; the Sorento from Kia, and the Tivoli from SsangYong. The Tivoli played an important role in the popularization of compact SUVs. Since its introduction in 2015, as the first new model from SsangYong after its acquisition by India’s Mahindra & Mahindra, the Tivoli was the most-sold compact SUV. However, it was then overtaken by Kona in 2018. From 2015 to 2017, the Tivoli sold over 45,000 and then 50,500 cars each year. This was more than any other competitor on the market at the time. In its first year, it sold more than every other compact SUV competitor combined. The Kona was first released in 2018.
Why SUVs are popular in South Korea
SUVs in South Korea have experienced a wave of popularity in recent years, ranging from large SUVs, such as the Sorento, to compact SUVs, such as the Tivoli. In fact, nearly half of the automobiles sold in South Korea were SUVs. A key reason being SUVs are simply bigger; they are versatile and can meet a wide variety of needs. They are especially attractive to the increasing number of people who want to enjoy their leisure time. Technological advances mean the traditional disadvantages of SUVs, poor comfort and fuel economy, have been overcome. Meanwhile, compact SUVs have surged in popularity, especially thanks to the SsangYong Tivoli. Hyundai developed the Kona specifically to challenge the Tivoli in the domestic market. In contrast to traditional SUVs, which are mostly popular among men in their 40s and 50s, the Tivoli is particularly popular among youths and women. This is possibly due to design variations and its reasonable cost and size.
Leading SUV cars in South Korea in 2020, by unit sales
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