More than 7500 imported vehicles were registered for the first time in Western Bay of Plenty and Tauranga last year, reflecting good local sales.
According to the New Zealand Transport Agency, 3113 of the vehicles were new and 4501 were used.
The model with the most new registrations in the region was the Nissan Tiida at 445 vehicles, followed by Suzuki Swift at 331 and Mazda Axela at 317.
Stadium Cars Tauranga managing director Ian Muir said his used car dealership had a fairly good year in 2014.
"Things got particularly good towards the end of the year across all the different makes and models," he said. "People have been able to get top quality vehicles for good prices."
The gap between the price of new and used cars had closed, he said.
"We're still getting good sales. A $7000 difference between new and used may not sound like a lot when you're buying an expensive vehicle but it still is to a lot of people."
Hatchbacks and SUVs were their biggest sellers, he said.
"People whose kids have left home are wanting to go from bigger vehicles to hatchbacks, and people with big families are making the move from people movers to SUVs."
NZME. regional motoring editor Colin Smith said record sales of new commercial vehicles had meant a strong year for car dealers.
Growth in the SUV market was particularly evident - nearly 30 per cent of the market was SUVs in 2014.
"More makes are 2WD, rather than 4WD, meaning they have lower running costs," he said. "It also comes down to the fact there's such a huge amount of SUVs now - almost every manufacturer makes SUVs.
"And they're a fashion thing. Commercials and families are buying them because they look good and have good features."
The large- and medium-car segment had become a smaller slice of the market, as a result, although the Holden Commodore was the second biggest seller of the year, he said.
"Holden Commodores are still a popular car, though, in general, people are moving away from having larger cars."
The price of new cars had remained relatively static in the past five years. "A vehicle that was $50K five years ago, will still be $50K now with a few more safety features so there's a perception of them having better value."
A catch-up from the global financial crisis when businesses and individuals didn't renew their cars had probably also contributed to the strong 2014, he said.