The cheapest family cars to own and operate

Are you in the market for a new family car? Having trouble deciding if you want an SUV, sedan or 4WD to accommodate your growing family?

RACV's annual Driving Your Dollars vehicle operating costs survey takes the mystery out of owning and running a car, and it's a vital tool for every motoring consumer. Indexing the top cars across a wide range of categories, the study looks beyond the purchase price and into the costs of owning the latest cars. RACV’s 2016 Driving Your Dollars survey studied 125 popular vehicles.

Why do the survey?

The financial implications of buying a new car extend beyond the purchase price alone, a fact often forgotten by new car buyers. The survey results help consumers see where their money goes in every aspect of vehicle ownership, from buying a car to fuel efficiency and servicing. RACV offers advice on how to save fuel and where to find the cheapest fuel; these tools can be used to further reduce your ongoing costs.

RACV advises car buyers to always be aware of the hidden costs. Make sure you know how much it costs to have your car serviced, to fill the tank, replace tyres, pay insurance, rego, stamp duty, spare parts and RACV membership.

It pays to do your homework before you hit the showroom, especially on finance options, and don’t be swayed by emotion on the day. Make sure you buy the car you need, not the one the salesman tries to convince you that you want.

How do we calculate costs?

RACV’s calculations for the Driving Your Dollars survey are based on private ownership of a vehicle for a five-year period and driving an average of 15,000 kilometres each year. The data was collected in the period leading up to June 2016. Vehicles were chosen according to sales volumes and models of interest. The survey takes into account all expenses associated with normal car ownership including purchase price, interest, fuel, servicing, new tyres, insurance and depreciation, and allows buyers to compare vehicles not only within one class, but across all classes.

Top cars to own and operate

Australians’ love affair with sports utility vehicles (SUVs) comes at a price. RACV’s annual Driving Your Dollars survey has found that SUVs are usually more expensive to own and operate than cars.

“It seems many car owners are happy to pay a little more to own an SUV, but may not realise the higher costs are ongoing and they are generally more expensive to purchase than passenger cars.”

With the emergence of small SUVs, the Mazda CX-3 (pictured above) is an excellent class winner with an estimated on-road price of $25,456 and a weekly cost of $158.47.

Mazda seems to be doing a good job of keeping costs down, and if the CX-3 is too small then the CX-5 is still a very reasonable option. With an estimated on-road price of $35,983 the CX-5 is found to be, on a weekly basis, the cheapest medium SUV by nearly 6 per cent. With an ongoing weekly cost of $185.59, the CX-5 is comparable to a medium sedan, but if boot space is not what you need then the Skoda Octavia hatchback edges it out by $16 a week.

The cheapest all-terrain SUV is the Pajero Sport, with weekly costs equating to $242.13. Popular Toyota Kluger GX and Prado GXL models will see you spending $254.14 and $287.42 a week respectively. There is no question that these SUVs are great solutions offering a wide range of practicality, but if size is simply a statement you may find yourself more suited to a family sedan such as the Holden Commodore Evoke, costing a comparatively low $214.42 per week. If you’re after seven seats the Honda Odyssey VTi is an affordable alternative at $209.01 per week.

To find out more, see the full detailed survey results for all car categories. The 2017 survey is currently underway, what new and exciting models would you like to see analysed?

Written by Liam McPhan
April 03, 2017