By Lauren Ferrone
Published: Wednesday, July 25, 2018
Are you in the market for a new car, but don’t want to fork out a fortune to keep it running in good nick? As part of RAA’s annual Vehicle Running Costs survey, our motoring experts have crunched the numbers of Australia’s most popular new cars to reveal which are the cheapest to own and run.
What is RAA’s Vehicle Running Costs survey?
Everything from the initial purchase price to ongoing costs such as fuel, tyres, servicing and depreciation is looked at to find out which cars are Australia’s cheapest.
The numbers are based on the car clocking up 12,000km annually over a 5-year period and also takes into account the average cost of fuel in SA, as well as the manufacturer’s service schedule. Here are the results…
Suzuki leads the pack in affordability in the light car category as it did last year, but this time with the Swift GL (pictured at top).
With annual running costs of about $5800, the Swift is nearly $500 cheaper to run per year than last year’s winner the Baleno, which placed second this time around.
What’s more, the Swift will cost you less at the fuel bowser. In fact, for each kilometre travelled, the Swift only burns 6.3 cents of fuel, compared to the Baleno’s 7.1 cents.
Korean carmaker Kia proves why it’s the undisputed king of the small-car category with the Cerato, which takes the title of the cheapest small car to run for the second year in a row.
The Cerato not only had the cheapest on-road purchase price of the cars we looked at ($19,990), but also had low servicing costs and a better-than-average depreciation rate. Overall, it’s about $1100 cheaper to run per year than the second-place getter, the Honda Civic VTi.
The Suzuki Vitara rises to victory in this category, making it the cheapest small SUV to run for a consecutive year.
It has the cheapest on-road purchase price of the bunch ($24,990), plus it doesn’t guzzle too much fuel (just 7.89 cents/km) – that’s a decent amount less than the second-placed Hyundai Kona, which drinks 9.47 cents/km.
Skoda and Mazda swap positions on the medium car podium this year, with the Japanese knocking the Czech carmaker from first place.
Of the top 3 cars in this category, the Mazda6 actually has the highest purchase price ($36,142 including on-road costs); however, it holds its value the best, meaning you’ll get more for it when it comes time to sell.
This year’s winner – the Haval – actually comes with the biggest fuel bill of any car in this category – it gulps 14.14 cents/km. Compare this to the Mazda CX-5 Maxx, which burns just 9.86 cents/km.
So how did the Haval come out on top? Well it’s a lot cheaper to buy than its competitors as it only comes in 2WD. At just $29,990 (including on-road costs), it’ll set you back about $7000 less than the second-placed Mazda. This – combined with the best depreciation rate – nudged it into first place.
The large SUV podium remains unchanged from last year. Subaru’s Outback wagon wins this category again, but not by much. In fact, it’s only a couple of hundred dollars cheaper to run per year than its diesel variant – the second placegetter.
None of the 3 cheapest large SUVs have gone up at all in purchase price, nor have their trade-in values changed even a smidge.
The fight for the cheapest car in this category was almost too close to call, with just 64 cents separating the Mitsubishi Pajero and Toyota Fortuner in weekly running costs.
Ultimately, the Pajero took the title for the second year in a row, thanks to its better fuel economy and lower servicing costs.
Holden dominates the large car segment for another year with the Commodore taking the top two spots with its turbo and V6 variants.
With a total annual running cost of just over $11,000, the turbo variant is about $860 cheaper to run than its second-placed counterpart. This is thanks to the best depreciation rate of any of the large cars we analysed, plus the cheapest on-road purchase price ($40,634).
The Honda Odyssey is your best bet if you’re after a big car that won’t guzzle too much fuel – for every kilometre travelled, it burns 9.99 cents of petrol. That might sound like a lot, but it’s about 5 cents less than the Kia Carnival S.
Add to this the lowest on-road purchase price ($41,757) and the best depreciation rate and, all up, the Odyssey has the lowest annual running costs of the bunch by about $1000.
Toyota, Subaru and Mazda all made the sports car podium again this year, but it’s the latter that maintained its number-one standing as the friendliest on the hip pocket.
The Mazda MX-5 Roadster has the lowest servicing costs and will set you back the least at the fuel pump, if only by a whisker. Overall, the Roadster will cost you $380 less a year than the second-placed Toyota.
If you’re after a 2WD ute that’s easy on the wallet, the Mitsubishi Triton is your best bet. It not only has the lowest sticker price ($38,749 including on-road costs), it also holds its value well, so you’ll be in a good position when it’s time to sell.
In terms of fuel, it rates equal best, tying with the Ford Ranger. When all the numbers are crunched, it costs $10,580 a year to run – about $440 less than the second-placed Isuzu.
The numbers were on the Mitsubishi Triton’s side again this year as it triumphed in the 4WD ute category. At $42,354 (including on-road costs), the Triton is the cheapest car to purchase in this category.
That’s not all that sets this Triton version apart. It has the best depreciation rate, meaning it’ll still be worth a reasonable amount in a few years’ time.
If you want to buy an electric or hybrid car, you’re going to need to dig pretty deep into your pockets. They’re the most expensive category of car to own, due to high purchase prices and poor depreciation rates.
If you can afford to outlay the money, the cheapest option is the Mitsubishi Outlander LS Hybrid. It came out on top because it’s significantly more affordable to buy. At $54,139 (including on-road costs) it’s about $21,000 cheaper than the second-placed BMW and $55,000 less than the Tesla.
The Mitsubishi Mirage has taken top spot in the micro-car category, with an annual running cost of $5624 ($108.16 a week), making it the cheapest car to run in any category.
This pint-sized ride’s comparatively low purchase price ($14,492 including on-road costs) is what puts it ahead of the pack, with the third placegetter – the Fiat 500 – more than $6000 costlier.
Add to that the lowest servicing costs and the best depreciation rate of any of the cars we analysed, and it’s no wonder it’s sitting atop the podium.