Navigating the varied and vast landscapes of Mongolia calls for vehicles that are as robust as they are economical. Why exactly are Toyota models like the Land Cruiser and Prius—and more recently, Subaru—considered the popular cars in Mongolia? This article dives into the reasons behind their success, from their handling of tough terrains to cost-efficiency, shaping Mongolia’s car landscape.

Key Takeaways

  • Toyota vehicles, particularly the Land Cruiser and Prius, make up approximately 70% of registered vehicles in Mongolia, favored for their ruggedness, fuel efficiency, and affordability suitable to local terrains.

  • Subaru is growing in popularity within the younger demographic in Mongolia, due to its sporty design and all-wheel drive capabilities, while Russian UAZ vans remain essential for their durability in rough terrains.

  • Mongolia is experiencing a shift towards fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly vehicles, with government incentives supporting this trend, despite challenges in infrastructure, costs, and public awareness.

The Reign of Toyota in Mongolia

Illustration of a Toyota Land Cruiser navigating through rugged Mongolian terrain

It’s hard to overlook the sheer dominance of Toyota on Mongolian roads. In a country with approximately half a million registered vehicles, a staggering 70% are Toyotas. This dominance isn’t by accident. Toyota’s vehicles, especially the Land Cruiser, are tailor-made to navigate Mongolia’s varied landscapes, including:

  • mountains

  • grasslands

  • plains

  • deserts

The Land Cruiser’s ruggedness and the Prius’s affordability and fuel efficiency make them a favorite among Mongolians. Let’s delve deeper into the reasons behind the popularity of these models.

Toyota Land Cruiser

The Land Cruiser is a testament to Toyota’s understanding of Mongolia’s terrain. Its exceptional off-road abilities make it the vehicle of choice for those who need to navigate the rough Mongolian landscape, similar to the capabilities of a Range Rover. With vast areas of the country lacking paved roads, a vehicle like the Land Cruiser is more than a luxury – it’s a necessity. Engineered to endure harsh conditions, it’s the go-to vehicle for long-distance travel within Mongolia.

The Land Cruiser also enjoys a cult-like following in the country, thanks to its comfort, durability, and the fact that it doesn’t shy away from bad roads. Whether you’re traversing the countryside or navigating the city streets, the Land Cruiser is a reliable companion.

Toyota Prius

The Toyota Prius, the most popular new car in Mongolia, accounts for nearly 52.5% of all vehicle imports into the country. Its popularity is undeniable, but what makes it so sought-after? The answer lies in its affordability, fuel efficiency, and resilience.

A secondhand Toyota Prius is an affordable option for many Mongolians, with prices ranging from $2,000 to $6,000. The Prius is also favored for its:

  • exceptional fuel efficiency, which is a significant advantage considering the long distances often traveled within the country

  • ability to withstand harsh winter conditions

  • robust availability of replacement parts

All of these factors add to its appeal.

It’s not just a car in Mongolia; it’s a practical, reliable choice.

The Rise of Subaru

While Toyota’s dominance is undeniable, other brands are making their mark in Mongolia, and Subaru is leading the pack. The sports car market in Mongolia is expanding, with Subaru at the forefront, thanks to its sporty design and powerful engines. The vast open spaces and variable weather conditions of Mongolia add to the appeal of sports cars, making the adrenaline rush of driving a Subaru a truly unique experience.

Subaru’s rise isn’t just about aesthetics and performance. It’s also about the brand’s ability to cater to the evolving tastes of Mongolia’s younger demographic, who are increasingly looking for vehicles that offer a blend of power, aesthetics, and off-road capabilities.

Subaru Models

Subaru’s popularity in Mongolia is reflected in the variety of its models seen on the streets. From the Subaru Forester and Impreza XV to the Legacy and BRZ, each model offers a unique blend of the brand’s signature boxer engine configuration and all-wheel-drive capabilities.

Prices for used Subaru models range from around $1,509 for older models like the 2008 Subaru Exiga, to approximately $22,992 for newer or less-used models such as the 2015 Subaru Legacy. With such a wide price range, the average price of a used Subaru becomes accessible to a broader demographic, further contributing to its popularity.

UAZ: The Russian Influence

Beyond Japanese brands, Mongolia’s car market also has a strong Russian influence, notably UAZ military vehicles. These new cars are indispensable for reaching remote communities in Mongolia, capable of tackling the rugged landscapes and varied terrains, from mud to rivers.

Originating in the Soviet era for military use, UAZ vans are still in production today and continue to be a vital part of Mongolia’s automotive landscape. They are especially popular among Mongolian nomads due to their:

  • Easy reparability

  • Durability

  • Ability to handle rough terrain

  • Affordability

This has earned them the reputation, ‘Easy to break, easy to fix!’

Russian Vans vs. Minivans

When it comes to choosing between a UAZ van and a minivan in Mongolia, the decision largely depends on the intended use. UAZ vans are a common choice for off-road conditions, offering ruggedness and reliability. However, they might not be the fastest option on highways.

Despite their slower performance on highways and less comfortable ride on bumpy roads, UAZ vans offer spacious interiors suitable for carrying luggage and equipment required for extended trips in Mongolia. Whether it’s an adventurous tour, a journey to a remote community, or traveling alongside buses, passenger cars, and trucks, a UAZ van is a reliable companion.

Luxury Cars: A Growing Market

While the majority of Mongolians prefer practical and reliable vehicles, there’s a growing market for luxury cars in the country. This market is on an upward trajectory, with an expected revenue of approximately $10 million in 2024 and a projected growth rate of 11.02% annually between 2024 and 2028, indicating a potential increase in market share for luxury vehicles.

Luxury SUVs, such as the Mercedes G Class, are a status symbol in Mongolia, signifying wealth and social standing among the upper class. These vehicles are typically large in size, averaging around 5m2 in footprint and 2200kg in mass, further adding to their grandeur.

Lexus and Other Luxury Brands

Among the luxury brands, Lexus stands out in Mongolia. A Lexus vehicle is not just a mode of transportation; it’s a status symbol, marking a social distinction for its owners. What sets Lexus apart from other luxury brands is its reputation for reliability and lower ownership costs, making it a popular choice among Mongolia’s luxury car buyers.

This popularity is a testament to Lexus’s understanding of its target market in Mongolia. By offering luxury vehicles that combine elegance, performance, and reliability, Lexus has carved a niche for itself in Mongolia’s growing luxury car market.

The Shift Towards Fuel-Efficient Vehicles

As environmental consciousness grows globally, Mongolia is seeing a shift towards fuel-efficient vehicles. Some key points to note about this shift are:

  • Toyota Prius models constitute approximately 13% of passenger vehicles on Mongolian roads, indicating a strong movement towards hybrids.

  • This shift isn’t just about the environment; it’s also about the economy.

  • Hybrid electric vehicles, including models like the Toyota Prius, make up 29.9% of all state-inspected vehicles in Mongolia, indicating their popularity among fuel-efficient options.

The Mongolian government has taken proactive measures to encourage this shift, including lowering excise tax and annual air pollution fees for hybrids, gas-engine, and electric vehicles. These initiatives have not only made fuel-efficient vehicles more affordable but also signaled a commitment to reducing the environmental impact of transportation in the country.

Hybrids and Electric Cars

The growing interest in hybrid and electric cars in Mongolia is evident. From tax exemptions for hybrids to an increasing import of hybrid vehicles, the country is making significant strides in promoting sustainable transportation. However, this shift is not without challenges. Some of the challenges include:

  • The lack of infrastructure for recycling waste from end-of-life vehicles, including hybrid vehicle batteries

  • Limited availability of charging stations for electric vehicles

  • High initial cost of purchasing hybrid or electric vehicles

  • Limited knowledge and awareness about hybrid and electric vehicles among the general public

Despite these challenges, the government and various organizations are working towards addressing them and promoting the adoption of hybrid and electric cars in Mongolia.

While Mongolia is taking steps towards a greener future, it’s crucial to address these challenges. As the country continues to import hybrid vehicles, regulations targeting waste from end-of-life hybrid vehicle batteries must be implemented to prevent potential environmental and management concerns.

Car Rentals in Mongolia

Whether you’re a local looking for a weekend adventure or a tourist wanting to explore the country’s vast landscapes, car rentals in Mongolia offer a convenient solution. Companies like MyCar.Rent offer a range of vehicles, including popular brands like Toyota, Subaru, and UAZ, catering to various needs, from city driving to adventurous tours.

Renting a car in Mongolia is relatively straightforward. Here are some important details to keep in mind:

  • Customers must be at least 21 years old

  • There is a minimum rental period of 5 days

  • A deposit is required

  • Rentals include 100-500km/day

  • Mandatory third-party liability insurance is included

So, whether you’re looking to explore the city streets in a Subaru or embark on an off-road adventure in a UAZ, car rental services in Mongolia have got you covered.


In conclusion, Mongolia’s car market is as diverse as its landscape. From the dominance of Toyota and the rise of Subaru to the popularity of Russian UAZ vans and increasing interest in fuel-efficient vehicles, the country’s automotive landscape reflects its unique needs and preferences. As Mongolia continues to grow and evolve, so will its car market.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most popular car brand in Mongolia?

The most popular car brand in Mongolia is Toyota, with around 70% of registered vehicles being Toyotas. This makes it the dominant choice among car owners.

Why is the Toyota Land Cruiser popular in Mongolia?

The Toyota Land Cruiser is popular in Mongolia because of its exceptional off-road abilities, making it well-suited for navigating Mongolia’s rough landscape.

Are luxury cars popular in Mongolia?

Yes, luxury cars, particularly SUVs, are becoming increasingly popular in Mongolia as a status symbol.

Are fuel-efficient vehicles becoming more popular in Mongolia?

Yes, there is a noticeable shift towards fuel-efficient vehicles in Mongolia, with approximately 13% of passenger vehicles being hybrids like the Toyota Prius. This indicates a growing popularity for fuel-efficient vehicles.

What is the Russian influence on Mongolia’s car market?

Russian military vehicles, particularly UAZ, are popular in Mongolia for accessing remote communities and rugged landscapes. This demonstrates a significant Russian influence on the country’s car market.