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Australia’s cheapest cars to own

Value buster: The RACV has named the Mitsubishi Mirage the cheapest car in Australia to run, with an average cost of $112.81 per week.

Annual RACV poll compares real-world ownership costs of Australia’s favourite cars

26 Jun 2013

MITSUBISHI'S re-born Mirage light car is Australia's cheapest car to run, according to a survey from the RACV, while Nissan’s new V8 petrol Patrol was the most expensive tested.

The five-door Mirage hatch came out on top in the annual Vehicle Operating Costs survey that determines the running cost of a car by factoring in financing, scheduled servicing, depreciation, insurance and registration, tyres and fuel over a five-year/75,000km period.

The Mirage ES took the crown with an average weekly cost of $112.81, a 0.50c drop over last year's winner – the Suzuki Alto – which again performed strongly by finishing a close second ($113.31).

Other top performers included Holden Barina Spark CD on $116.47, and the Volkswagen Up with an average cost of $124.07.

A couple of fuel-saving hybrids trailed the light car pack, including Honda's recently-released Jazz hybrid ($159.81 a week) and the Toyota Prius C ($164.89).

Ford scored a win in the small car category, with its Focus Ambiente hatch costing $157.18, beating out the Hyundai Elantra Active ($157.81) and Holden's locally-built Cruze Equipe ($158.60).

While hybrid cars may save money on fuel, the initial cost and, in some cases, higher levels of depreciation put them at the bottom of the list in the small car category with the Toyota Prius costing $197.61 and Honda's Civic hybrid sedan $205.28 per week.

Likewise, electric cars may be cheap to run, but heavy depreciation actually makes them more costly to own than you might think.

Mitsubishi's baby i-MiEV (now axed here) averaged between $239.87 and $258.64 per week, the Nissan Leaf costs $250.41, and the Holden Volt plug-in costs between $282.45 and $305.61 per week.

Volkswagen's Jetta 118 TSI topped the best value medium-sized car category with a figure of $185.33, ahead of the Kia Optima Si on $197.38, while Toyota's local hero Camry hybrid bucked the trend of low rankings for electrified vehicles with $199.74 for a third placing.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, some premium European offerings were the most expensive medium-sized cars to run, including the BMW 320i ($305.23) and the Mercedes-Benz C200 BE ($319.60).

The new VF Holden Commodore Evoke LPG was named cheapest large car to run on $214.17 per week, the petrol version placed second with $219.62, while the Ford Falcon XT came last with $245.17.

People-movers recorded similar results to large cars with the Honda Odyssey winning its category with an average weekly cost of $223.59. The Toyota Tarago placed last with a cost of $265.30.

The Kia Sportage Si's low servicing costs helped it claim the title of best value compact SUV this year ($187.54), followed by the Nissan Dualis ST and Hyundai ix35 Active, tied on $190.00 each.

The top six best-value compact SUVs were all front-wheel drive models, with their thirstier all-wheel drive counterparts more expensive to run. The top-selling Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport and Nissan X-Trail TS rounded out the list of compact SUVs on $221.88 and $224.05 respectively.

Korean car-maker Hyundai won the medium-size SUV category for the Santa Fe Active on $221.01, just edging out the Holden Captiva 7 CX on $223.10.

Ford's Aussie-built Territory TX has the second-highest average weekly cost of $252.29, ahead of only the Toyota Kluger KX-R ($263.08).

Jeep's Grand Cherokee Laredo petrol was the cheapest to run all-terrain SUV with weekly costs of $258.43, pipping the Mitsubishi Pajero GLX on $272.91.

All-terrain SUVs were the most expensive category in the survey, with the Toyota LandCruiser GXL costing $387.62 per week to run and Nissan's hulking new Patrol ST-L petrol the costliest vehicle on the entire list with calculated weekly costs of $397.84.

Chalking up a win for Australian car-makers was the Ford Falcon EcoLPi two-wheel drive ute taking out its category with weekly costs of $184.72, but its Ranger XL diesel stable-mate didn't fair as well with $225.97.

Toyota's HiLux SR workhorse grabbed the crown for best value 4WD ute with average costs of $246.76, ahead of the Holden Colorado LTZ on $280.20.

The annual survey is based on the top-selling vehicles in each segment, meaning that a number of slower-selling models miss out on a placing.

RACV's 2013 list coincides with the RACQ's survey that recently found the Suzuki Alto to be Australia's cheapest car to run with an average weekly cost of $113.82.

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