What it costs to run your car

Motoring writer Paul Murrell reveals what you really should be assessing when buying a car.

What it costs to run your car

Most people are fixated on the purchase price of any car they’re thinking about buying, but the real cost of ownership depends on a number of factors over the full period you have it.

Depreciation, servicing, insurance, fuel (of course) and various other factors all have an impact on the total cost of running a car. And while many buyers are starting to pay close attention to fuel economy, depreciation is still the largest single expense, managing to chew up as much as 40 per cent of running costs over five years.

Two recent surveys define the cheapest and most expensive cars to run in Australia. Both determined running costs based on initial purchase price, depreciation, on-road costs, loan repayments, registration, insurance, fuel costs, tyre costs, servicing, repairs and even auto club membership over a five-year period. The surveys cover more than 140 models across 14 categories, including small, medium and large cars, utilities, SUVs and people movers.

Needless to say, there were a few surprises in the list.

The Kia Rio matched the smaller Picanto as the cheapest car to run.

In the RAA 2019 annual car market survey, Kia won the trifecta with its Picanto (micro), Rio (light) and Cerato (small) all coming in as the least expensive cars to own. The Picanto and Rio were both said to cost $111.49 per week, while the Cerato was $134.55.

Showing the danger of statistics, the RACV Driving Your Dollars survey had the Kia Rio costing $115.95 per week, just pipping the smaller Picanto at $118.25. The RACV rated the Cerato as best of the small cars at $136.64 a week.

The Kia Cerato was the most economical small car.

First of the surprises to emerge was the high costs of owning an electric car, and particularly the Tesla Model X 100D SUV, rated by the RAA at a hefty $562.70 a week. The RACV was also tough on the Tesla Model S 100D sedan that came in at $519.54.

So why are these electric vehicles, often touted as the way of the future, so expensive to run? Well, the average running costs for an electric vehicle are lower than expected at around $240 a week (around the same as running a petrol-powered people mover) but the substantially higher initial cost made all the difference. Both the Model X 100D and Model S have purchase prices in excess of $140,000.

While depreciation is the major factor, increasing fuel prices are also having an effect. The RAA has found that fuel costs were a significant factor in the average weekly cost of running a car, rising from $218.58 last year to $228.79 this year, an increase of 4.7 per cent. Last year, the RAA based its figures on an average annual cost of 131 cents per litre for unleaded fuel, but this year the figure jumped to 139.7 cents per litre.

The RACV’s figures, while slightly different at weekly average costs of $220.87 to $223.14, agreed that fuel costs were a leading factor, costing an average of $126.26 more this year than last.

According to the RACV, running costs are analysed using the base variant unless a higher-spec variant is more comparable with other vehicles in that class, and costs are estimated over a five-year period at 15,000km a year.

RAA results:

Micro ($/week)
KIA PICANTO S (AEB) JA MY19 5D HATCHBACK INLINE 4 1248 cc MPFI 5 SP MANUAL           $111.49/week

MITSUBISHI MIRAGE ES LA MY19 5D HATCHBACK INLINE 3 1193 cc MPFI 5 SP MANUAL     $115.11

FIAT 500 POP SERIES 6 3D HATCHBACK INLINE 4 1242 cc MPFI 5 SP MANUAL  $129.27

Light
KIA RIO S YB MY19 5D HATCHBACK INLINE 4 1368 cc MPFI 4 SP AUTOMATIC $111.79

SUZUKI SWIFT GL AL 5D HATCHBACK INLINE 4 1242 cc MPFI CONTINUOUS VARIABLE      $117.72

SUZUKI BALENO GL MY16 4D HATCHBACK INLINE 4 1373 cc MPFI 4 SP AUTOMATIC            $121.99

Small
KIA CERATO S (AV) BD MY19 5D HATCHBACK INLINE 4 1999 cc MPFI 6 SP AUTOMATIC       $134.55

HOLDEN ASTRA R BK MY19 5D HATCHBACK TURBO 4 1399 cc TDFI 6 SP AUTOMATIC          $146.54

MITSUBISHI LANCER ES SPORT CF MY17 4D SEDAN INLINE 4 1998 cc MPFI CVT AUTO 6 SPEED     $146.64

Medium
TOYOTA CAMRY ASCENT SPORT (HYBRID) AXVH71R MY19 4D SEDAN INLINE 4 2494 cc MPFI       $181.18

TOYOTA CAMRY ASCENT SPORT ASV70R MY19 4D SEDAN INLINE 4 2494 cc MPFI 6 SP         $185.74

HYUNDAI SONATA ACTIVE LF4 MY19 4D SEDAN INLINE 4 2359 cc GDi 6 SP AUTOMATIC     $186.11

Large
HOLDEN COMMODORE RS (5YR) ZB 5D LIFTBACK TURBO 4 1998 cc TDFI 9 SP AUTOMATIC            $219.43

HOLDEN COMMODORE RS (5YR) ZB 5D LIFTBACK V6 3649 cc DIRFI 9 SP AUTOMATIC          $235.31

TOYOTA CAMRY SL V6 GSV70R MY19 4D SEDAN V6 3456 cc DDMPFI 8 SP AUTOMATIC        $244.68

People mover
HONDA ODYSSEY VTi RC MY19 4D WAGON INLINE 4 2356 cc MPFI CONTINUOUS VARIABLE         $207.84

HYUNDAI iMAX ACTIVE TQ4 MY19 4D WAGON DIESEL TURBO 4 2497 cc TCDI 5 SP AUTOMATIC   $232.54

KIA CARNIVAL S YP MY19 4D WAGON V6 3342 cc MPFI 8 SP AUTOMATIC         $237.38

SUV small
HYUNDAI KONA ACTIVE (FWD) OS.2 MY19 4D WAGON INLINE 4 1999 cc MPFI 6 SP AUTOMATIC   $156.75

HONDA HR-V VTi MY18 4D WAGON INLINE 4 1799 cc MPFI CONTINUOUS VARIABLE $160.21

SUZUKI JIMNY GJ 2D WAGON INLINE 4 1462 cc MPFI 4 SP AUTOMATIC 4×4       $161.82

SUV medium
TOYOTA RAV4 GXL (2WD) MXAA52R 5D WAGON INLINE 4 1987 cc DIRFI CONTINUOUS VARIABLE          $187.62

FORD ESCAPE AMBIENTE (AWD) ZG MY18.5 4D WAGON TURBO 4 1499 cc TMPFI 6 SP           $192.04

MAZDA CX-5 MAXX (4×4) MY19 (KF SERIES 2) 4D WAGON INLINE 4 2488 cc DIRFI 6 SP AUTOMATIC         $193.47

SUV large
SUBARU OUTBACK 2.5i MY18 4D WAGON INLINE 4 2498 cc MPFI CONTINUOUS VARIABLE $207.39

SUBARU OUTBACK 2.0D MY18 4D WAGON DIESEL TURBO 4 1998 cc TCDI CONTINUOUS VARIABLE        $213.43

MAZDA CX-8 SPORT (AWD) (5YR) KG MY18 4D WAGON TWIN TURBO 4 2191 cc TTCDI 6 SP AUTOMATIC $221.38

SUV all terrain
ISUZU MU-X LS-M (4×4) UC MY18 4D WAGON DIESEL TURBO 4 2999 cc TCDI 6 SP AUTO       $229.31

TOYOTA FORTUNER GX GUN156R MY19 4D WAGON DIESEL TURBO 4 2753 cc DTFI 6 SP AUTOMATIC     $231.63

MITSUBISHI PAJERO SPORT GLX (4×4) 5 SEAT QE MY19 4D WAGON DIESEL TURBO 4 2442 cc TCDI 8 SP AUTOMATIC $232.91

2WD utility
MITSUBISHI TRITON GLX ADAS MR MY19 DOUBLE CAB P/UP DIESEL TURBO 4 2440 cc DTFI 6 SP AUTOMATIC $211.33

ISUZU D-MAX SX HI-RIDE (4×2) TF MY18 CREW CAB UTILITY DIESEL TURBO 4 2999 cc TCDI 6 SP AUTOMATIC $219.37

FORD RANGER XL 2.2 HI-RIDER (4×2) PX MKIII MY19 DOUBLE CAB P/UP DIESEL TURBO 4 2198 cc DTFI 6 SP AUTOMATIC            $222.62

4WD utility
MITSUBISHI TRITON GLX (4×4) MR MY19 DOUBLE CAB P/UP DIESEL TURBO 4 2440 cc DTFI 6 SP AUTOMATIC  $230.49

HOLDEN COLORADO LS (4×4) (5YR) RG MY19 CREW CAB P/UP DIESEL TURBO 4 2776 cc DTFI 6 SP AUTOMATIC           $240.10

ISUZU D-MAX SX HI-RIDE (4×4) TF MY18 CREW CAB UTILITY DIESEL TURBO 4 2999 cc TCDI 6 SP AUTOMATIC $245.00

Electric
HYUNDAI IONIQ ELECTRIC ELITE (BLACK GRILLE) AE.2 4D HATCHBACK NOT APPLICABLE 0000            $195.89

RENAULT ZOE INTENS 4D HATCHBACK NOT APPLICABLE 0000 ELEC 1 SP AUTOMATIC      $218.26

MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER PHEV (HYBRID) ES ZL MY19 4D WAGON INLINE 4 1998 cc MPFI 1 SP      $244.32

Sports
TOYOTA 86 GT ZN6 MY18 2D COUPE INLINE 4 1998 cc MPFI 6 SP AUTO SEQUENTIAL $197.39

MAZDA MX-5 ROADSTER ND MY19 2D CONVERTIBLE INLINE 4 1496 cc GDi 6 SP AUTOMATIC       $201.91

SUBARU BRZ MY19 2D COUPE INLINE 4 1998 cc DIRFI 6 SP AUTOMATIC            $202.89

In the RACV survey, the Kia Rio just edged out the Suzuki Swift GL ($117.77), while the Kia Picanto S came in third ($118.25). Last year’s most affordable car, the Mitsubishi Mirage ES dropped to fourth place ($119.05) with the Suzuki Baleno GL light hatch fifth ($121.80).

At $450 a week, you might want to leave the X5 in the garage, but it’s cheaper than a Tesla!

Naturally, premium brands also cost more to run. BMW’s X5 xDrive 30d SUV was the third most expensive vehicle on the list at $450.34 a week. But it wasn’t as far ahead of the Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series 4WD diesel wagon as you might think at $375.81 a week and even the LandCruiser 70 Series pick-up came in at $330.44.

And, at $375 a week, you may not be jumping for joy with a LandCruiser.

So, as you can see, buying a new car with the heart instead of the head can be an expensive proposition.

This article originally appeared on seniordriveraus.com

Paul Murrell is a motoring writer and creator of seniordriveraus.com, which specialises in “car advice for people whose age and IQ are both over 50”.

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    COMMENTS

    To make a comment, please register or login
    inextratime
    26th Nov 2019
    12:11pm
    Another running cost is the shonky cost of service. My latest service cost was $1200 and include spark plugs - $78, oils, lubricants and brake fluid $450. Try and argue and they won't give the keys back.
    older&wiser
    26th Nov 2019
    12:57pm
    One reason I bought my 2nd hand 8 month old small SUV was 5 year free service, then service capped for 5 years to $265.00. Car is now technically 3 years old (2016 model first sold in May 2017) and I have just hit 17,000 kms.
    wordsmith
    27th Nov 2019
    8:54am
    So true! That's why five and seven year warranties and capped or fixed price servicing make such good sense. One acquaintance of mine was slugged $18,000 for a service on his not-very-old Bentley! Yes, $18,000!
    Incognito
    28th Nov 2019
    4:28pm
    My recent car service only cost just over $200 but I have to get my brakes done which will cost just under $1000. My car is 14 years old though.
    john
    28th Apr 2020
    11:14am
    Your example is why servicing is a rackett, without a doubt, and a rackett where it is overlooked by authority because it also is probably taxed to the hilt as well, although I think more to the point the car yards rip you off.
    But big-name car companies are all the same, service centres, ah yes a nice cup of coffee if you wait, don't sign anything before you get your free courtesy ride home, because when you get back to pick up the vehicle your $250 service fee could have jumped $500 to a $1000 bucks.

    I took my sons Pulsar to a dealer service and our family Pulsar to the same place the same day, my young fellow went and signed for both, for servicing, when I got back later in the afternoon they had done other things, and because of the signature on the worksheet , that was it, my newer vehicle cost me $700, my son's car cost around $600.
    This for two services quoted at $170 ($340.00) dollars each, became $1300 dollars this is not unusual, just for an old fashioned grease & oil change check the plugs, the points etc this was about 4 years ago. I use RAC now!
    No warning just did the jobs, and whether they were needed at the time I have no idea, but they did it to both cars.
    Now I know that if you haven't signed anything they'll ring you and say we have found this and that, the RAC always do that, but the motor car companies service places that ring you, if you haven't opened the gate for them by signing a work sheet, they inevitably make it sound like you will have a ruined vehicle if you don't have this or that done.
    After this COVID19 is passed as best it can pass, perhaps lots of this kind of thing might be regulated a bit more, same with motor car prices , really a new car here in Aus, every deal is a rip off, we need the government to start making cars here again, we have failed our own industry its time an Aussie got up , one who has plenty of wealth and there are quite a few, and create an Australian car manufacturing operation , if outside don't want them , sell them to Australian drivers, we probably make the better tougher cars than anyone else anyhow!
    Happy
    28th Jan 2020
    4:45pm
    Always get av Quote on email or writing.
    Advise what you like done to the car.
    The word SERVICE has a large meaning,be specific in your request.
    Milly
    27th Apr 2020
    4:14pm
    Electric Cars cost less to manufacture than a petrol car, they cost much less to run, but Australia doesn't want you to own one, so for that reason, the purchase price will stay high. How do I know I have relatives in the UK who are driving these types of vehicles and can't believe their luck on the money they save, even more, if they have solar on the roof and batteries, also cheaper to service and last longer than the petrol model less moving parts, also they don't pay petrol tax.
    Incognito
    27th Apr 2020
    5:57pm
    Yes it is shocking how our Government does not support electric vehicles, would clean up the pollution so quickly. The tax on electric cars need to be lower for a start. Secondly money spent on infrastructure needs to be increased, this would create more jobs too. This is a petrol guzzling society and our Government is run by oil, gas and coal corporations and those politicians who have investments in them.
    john
    28th Apr 2020
    10:52am
    The whole thing with car pricing all over Australia is that buying a new carnothing fancy or special just new, that costs you over $100.00 dollars a week, is so far beyond value, that it amazes me how people keep buying these cars at these prices, there is no value! How do people afford the millions of 4xwheel drive vehicles filling every carpark in town, it is any wonder the world itself, but especially Australia, it is loaded down with people in debt for the rest of their lives, A good new car should never be over $15,000 to 20,000 at the outside, they simply aren't worth it, a special new model with "all the extras, say a Toyota what will that get you $35,000 dollars, so if you pay that for an upmarket Toyota model? What the hell does $20,000 get you. Maybe its gov taxes like the petrol thievery, motor vehicles are too over priced in Australia, as is Petrol, which is a rackett, but that'll be gov taxes too, as well as this Singapore price parity bulldust?
    80 plus
    28th Apr 2020
    11:24am
    With an A.B.N You get all cost back from your tax, that is why car parks are full of S.U.V.s used by mum to take the kids to school before shopping and coffee breaks, cost of vehicle lease divided by five years, cost of servicing, cost of fuel, rego and insurance all allowable business expenses along with phones, house insurance etc.


    Tags: money, cars, costs

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