Driving Australia's cheapest (and priciest) cars per kilometre

Toyota LandCruiser GXL
Photo of Sam Jeremic

Love to hit the open road, but want to keep your budget under control? Find out how your car compares on running costs.

The RAC has released results of its annual Vehicle Operating Costs survey – and some of the most popular vehicles amongst travellers haven’t emerged unscathed.

Whilst we in Australia may like to head into the great outdoors, our four-wheel-drives come at a cost.

The ever-popular Toyota LandCruiser (pictured above) not only topped the most-expensive list, with its GXL V8 petrol variant costing as estimated $364.27 a week, but the diesel Cruiser GXL wasn’t far behind in third place at $330.70.

The pair are separated by last year’s most expensive vehicle, the Nissan Patrol Y62, which benefited from massive price cuts last year that saw the Ti variant drop $23,400 in price.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo costs an estimated $310.16 to make the top four an all-SUV affair, while Hyundai’s luxury Genesis sedan rounded out the top five of the most expensive list.

The survey looks at a car’s drive-away price, registration fees, fuel and maintenance costs, and the estimated trade-in value of a five-year-old car in Western Australia.

It is based on vehicles privately owned over a five-year period, insured with RAC and averaging 15,000km on the road per year.

RAC vehicles and fuels manager Alex Forrest said the average cost of running and owning a new car was $207.86 a week across the 125 vehicles surveyed — down from last year’s $214.35 weekly average.

Mr Forrest said most buyers considered purchase price and fuel costs when deciding on a new car, though regularly overlooked other crucial factors.

“The single biggest cost was depreciation which, on average, makes up 40 per cent of the cost of running a new car over five years,” he said.

“The next biggest expense for motorists is the standing on-road costs, such as stamp duty and registration, including compulsory third- party insurance and private insurance.

“If you get a loan for the full cost of the car, interest will be the third biggest expense, while fuel is in fact the fourth biggest cost factor, on average.”

The Suzuki Celerio was the cheapest car to own in WA for the second year running, costing an estimated $96 a week — down from last year’s estimate of $100.02 and making it the only car of the 125 surveyed to cost less than triple figures per week to own.

It remains far cheaper to go for light hatches rather than the baby SUVs they’re based on: the Mazda CX-3 Neo and Mazda2 are the cheapest in their categories but the CX-3 costs $30.91 more per week to own.

Premium brands may have also dropped their list prices but high operating costs — particularly servicing fees — still means cars such as the Mercedes-Benz A Class and BMW X1 remain pricier than their competitors.

Interestingly, the three electric cars surveyed — the Nissan Leaf, BMW i3 and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV — were all roughly the same cost per week as a large SUV or 4x4 ute.

All three have quite high price tags and on-road costs, though obviously are way in front in terms of fuel costs.

Electric cars are now more attractive for holiday makers, with 10 charging stations now available throughout the popular south west region of WA as part of the RAC Electric Highway.

Premium brands may have also dropped their list prices but high operating costs — particularly servicing fees — still means cars such as the Mercedes-Benz A Class and BMW X1 remain pricier than their competitors.

At the opposite end of the scale, we in WA may like to head into the great outdoors in our four-wheel-drives but it comes at a cost.

The ever-popular Toyota LandCruiser GXL not only topped the most-expensive list, with its V8 petrol variant costing as estimated $364.27 a week, but the diesel Cruiser GXL wasn’t far behind in third place at $330.70.

The pair are separated by last year’s most expensive vehicle, the Nissan Patrol Y62, which benefited from massive price cuts last year that saw the Ti variant drop $23,400 in price.

Elsewhere, the Hyundai Genesis was the only non-SUV to crack the most expensive top five. However, the Korean marque was a tad unlucky as it was compared to mainstream large cars such as the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon rather than other large luxury sedans.

Interestingly, the three electric cars surveyed — the Nissan Leaf, BMW i3 and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV — were all roughly the same cost per week as a large SUV or 4x4 ute.

All three have quite high price tags and on-road costs, though obviously are way in front in terms of fuel costs.

The i3 costs an estimated $7.65 per week to power, though the hybrid Toyota Prius only costs a fraction more at $9.82.

CHEAPEST AND MOST EXPENSIVE BY SEGMENT

cost per week

MICRO

Suzuki Celerio — $96

Fiat 500 — $131.81

LIGHT

Mazda2 Neo hatch — $118.83

Renault Clio Expression — $139.30

SMALL

Kia Cerato S hatch — $137.92

Mercedes-Benz A180 — $217.21

MEDIUM

Skoda Octavia Ambition wagon — $162.96

Mercedes-Benz C200 sedan — $290.63

LARGE

Holden Commodore Evoke sedan — $211.35

Hyundai Genesis sedan — $309.94

PEOPLE MOVER

Honda Odyssey VTi — $208.90

Toyota Tarago GLi — $253.98

SMALL SUV

Mazda CX-3 Neo — $149.74

BMW X1 sDrive20i — $246.81

MEDIUM SUV

Mazda CX-5 Maxx — $183.86

Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI — $301.25

LARGE SUV

Subaru Outback 2.0D — $214.81

Toyota Kluger GX — $253.57

ALL-TERRAIN SUV

Mitsubishi Pajero Sport GLX — $243.05

Toyota LandCruiser GXL — $364.27

2WD UTE

Holden VFII Ute — $198.37

Toyota HiLux SR — $239.93

4WD UTE

Mitsubishi Triton GLX — $224.63

Holden Colorado LS — $262.55

ELECTRIC

Nissan Leaf — $252.05

BMW i3 — $274.31

MOST EXPENSIVE IN WA

cost per week

Toyota LandCruiser GXL petrol — $364.27

Nissan Patrol Ti — $342.39

Toyota LandCruiser GXL diesel — $330.70

Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo — $310.16

Hyundai Genesis — $309.94

CHEAPEST IN WA

cost per week

Suzuki Celerio (manual) — $96

Mitsubishi Mirage ES hatch (man) — $106.49

Holden Spark LS (man) — $111.32

Kia Picanto Si (auto) — $116.89

Mazda2 Neo hatch (auto) — $118.83

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