samotor Magazine

Car costs

We look at the cheapest cars to run for 2013.

Vehicle running costs

RAA has crunched the numbers for more than 100 cars to find out which are the cheapest to own and run.

Everything from the initial purchase price to ongoing costs such as fuel, tyres, common repairs and depreciation is taken into account.

The numbers are based on the car clocking up 15,000km annually over a five-year period and also takes into account the average cost of fuel in South Australia, as well as the manufacturer’s service schedule.

Taking out a loan for the full price of your car is also included, so if you have a deposit or a trade-in, this will cut the cost.

Click on the icons below to find out more about the cheapest cars to run per week.

Light Cars Small Cars Medium cars Large cars People Movers

hCompact SUV Medium SUV All-Terrain SUV Electric cars


Light cars

Cost is a big consideration for those shopping in the light-car market, making this a hotly contested class. The Suzuki Alto – which also came out on top overall – took the prize in this category thanks to its exceptional fuel economy. In fact, for each kilometre travelled, the Alto only burns 6.8 cents worth of fuel.

1st – Suzuki Alto GL (M): $120.35Suzuki Alto GL (M)

2nd – Mitsubishi Mirage ES (M): $122.54

3rd – Holden Barina Spark (M): $123.09

See the full results for light cars

Small cars

This category is almost too close to call, with the top three performers each separated by just $1 a week. The Toyota Corolla, however, managed to edge slightly ahead of its competitors due to a drop in purchase price since last year and better fuel efficiency.

Toyota Corolla Ascent CVT
1st – Toyota Corolla Ascent CVT: $167.58

2nd – Hyundai Elantra Active (A): $168.41

3rd – Holden Cruze 5D (A): $169.40

See the full results for small cars

Medium cars

The Volkswagen Jetta took out pole position, with an annual running cost of nearly $800 less than the next closest contender – the Kia Optima. Notably, the Toyota Camry Hybrid shrugged off the notion that hybrids aren’t cost efficient by debuting on the podium – the first hybrid to make the top three. This reflects the improving affordability of hybrid vehicles, which traditionally have been in a premium price bracket.

The Jetta scored well in the depreciation stakes – meaning it holds its value better when it comes time to sell. 

Volkswagen Jetta Comfortline DS61st – Volkswagen Jetta Comfortline DS6: $198.88

2nd – Kia Optima Si (A): $213.93

3rd – Toyota Camry Hybrid: $216.88

See the full results for medium cars

Large cars

The new VF Commodore Evoke LPG has shot to the front of the large-car category. In fact, it’s more than $1000 cheaper to run per year than the previous winner – the Ford Falcon XT LPG, which now sits in third place. Aggressive cuts to the purchase price and improvements in fuel economy have been the main game changers for the VF.

VF Commodore Evoke LPG Sedan (A)
1st – VF Commodore Evoke LPG Sedan (A): $226.59

2nd – VF Commodore Evoke Petrol Sedan (A): $231.96

3rd – Ford Falcon XT LPG (A): $247.02

See the full results for large cars

People movers

The pecking order has not changed from last year in this class, with the top three performers staying firmly in position. And while the Toyota Tarago hasn’t made the podium, it’s notably managed to cut its weekly running cost by $30, to $282.15. As in the other categories, this was achieved through better fuel consumption and a lower purchase price.

1stHonda Odyssey (A)Honda Odyssey (A): $239.15

2nd – Hyundai iMax (A): $250.58

3rd – Kia Grand Carnival: $262.75

See the full results for people movers

Compact SUVs 

There’s been a changing of the guard for the compact SUVs – the Kia Sportage has relinquished its top spot to the previous second placegetter, the Nissan Dualis, but by just $1 a week. Meanwhile, the new Honda CRV has made its debut in a respectable third place in what is yet another very close category.

Nissan Dualis (ST) (4X2) CVT
1st – Nissan Dualis (ST) (4X2) CVT: $206.40

2nd – Kia Sportage Si (4X2) (A): $207.79

3rd – Honda CRV VTi (4X2) (A): $209.88

See the full results for compact SUVs

Medium SUV 

Also a winner of the 2012 Australia’s Best Cars awards, the Hyundai Santa Fe has leapt into first place on its debut, pushing the petrol and diesel variants of the Holden Captiva into second and third place in this competitive field.

Hyundai Santa Fe Active (4X4) (AA)
1st – Hyundai Santa Fe Active (4X4) (AA): $242.51

2nd – Holden Captiva 7 (4X4) V6 (A): $243.09

3rd – Holden Captiva 7 (4X4) Diesel (A): $244.58

See the full results for medium SUVs

All-terrain SUV

Big cars are always going to put a fair dent in your weekly budget. However, a comparatively low purchase price puts the Jeep Grand Cherokee clear in the lead in this field. It also ranks the best in terms of resale value. Overall, it’s about $1070 cheaper to run per year than the second placegetter, the Mitsubishi Pajero.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo V6 (A)
1st – Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo V6 (A): $281.01

2nd – Mitsubishi Pajero 6L x D/Turbo (A): $301.62

3rd – Nissan Patrol ST D/Turbo (A): $335.02

See the full results for all-terrain SUVs

Electric cars

It’s not easy being green. Electricity is about a third of the cost of petrol, meaning you’ll save significantly on running costs. However, hefty price tags and poor depreciation rates mean that, overall, EVs are largely unaffordable – particularly when compared to similar-sized cars. Of the three players in this field, the i-MiEV came out on top.

Mitsubishi i-MiEV
1st – Mitsubishi i-MiEV: $278.50

2nd – Nissan LEAF: $282.32

3rd – Holden Volt: $326.00

See the full results for EVs

Read the full story in the e-magazine.