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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