Australia’s cheapest family cars revealed

close up image of red mazda cx5 in melbourne at night on a bridge

Tim Nicholson

Posted July 11, 2019

We reveal the best-value and most affordable family cars for 2019.

If you’re in the market for a family car in 2019, there’s a good chance you’re not looking to buy a large sedan or station wagon. These staples of family motoring from decades past have dropped in popularity as buyers favour the flexibility of high-riding SUVs and even dual-cab pick-ups.

It is also likely that value for money and affordability are two of the top priorities when purchasing a new family hauler.

RACV’s 2019 Driving Your Dollars survey reveals the true cost of owning and operating some of Australia’s best-selling models. The breakdown of these hidden costs is then calculated as a weekly charge, inclusive of the initial purchase price.

Whether you are after a mid-size SUV for running around the city, a big four-wheel drive ute to go off-roading in, or a more traditional sedan or wagon, News and Lifestyle has sifted through the results to find some of Australia’s best-value family cars.

If you are yet to embrace the SUV revolution, there is plenty of value to be found from medium and large sedans. 

red mazda cx5 driving on a country road surrounded by trees

Mazda's popular CX-5 is one of the most affordable cars to run in 2019.

Highlighting the cost benefits of electrified vehicles, Australia’s best-value medium-sized sedan – and in turn the most affordable family car – is the Toyota Camry Ascent Sport Hybrid. The Hybrid costs $190.01 to own and run, slightly cheaper than the 2.5-litre petrol-powered Camry Ascent Sport that costs $197.76 a week. Despite its slightly higher price tag (+$2000) and greater depreciation, the average fuel costs for the Hybrid variant are 55 per cent less than the petrol model.

Other top-value sedans include the Mazda6 Sport petrol ($199.19 per week), the Subaru Liberty 2.5i petrol ($199.49) and the Hyundai Sonata Active petrol ($200.42). 

Holden’s Commodore RS 2.0L petrol liftback was the most affordable offering in the large segment by some margin, costing an average of $232.88 per week to own and run. The V6 version of the same variant was runner-up in that segment, costing more ($245.58) because of higher fuel costs and greater depreciation.

The Toyota Camry SL V6 was third in the large segment with $250.75, followed by the Skoda Superb 162TSI sedan on $251.06 and the four-cylinder Kia Stinger 200S on $268.28.

People movers might not be as popular as they were in the glory days of the 1980s, but eight-seat MPVs still offer great value. Honda’s Odyssey VTi topped its category on $217.68 a week, with the Hyundai iMax Active following it in second on $240.68. Kia’s top-selling Carnival S was third on $248.94.

The size and packaging of mid-size SUVs mean they appeal to people who don’t require a massive car, as well as small families with one or two kids. Given it is the largest single market segment in Australia, there are plenty of models to choose from.