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Australia's cheapest cars to own and run

Driving a bargain.

Studies show top sellers are not always the most affordable cars to own or even the cheapest cars to service or the cheapest cars to insure. 

One of Australia's cheapest cars is also the most affordable to own and operate.

Cheap, fuel-efficient cars currently don’t come better than the Suzuki Baleno GL light hatchback, which starts from just $18,990 and has topped the annual 2020 RACV’s Driving Your Dollars survey, making it the cheapest car to run in Australia. 

It finished just ahead of another Suzuki light hatch, the Swift GL, which is around $33 more per month than its slightly less expensive counterpart.

The survey takes into account the initial purchase price and loan repayments, as well as the cost of registration, insurance, auto club membership, fuel or EV charging, tyres, and which are the cheapest cars to maintain in regards to servicing and repair. Averaged over a five-year period, the Suzuki Baleno GL costs just $8486.47 a year to run, or $163.20 per week, making it the cheapest car to run in Australia.

Coming in third behind the Baleno GL and Swift GL is the Toyota Yaris Ascent, one of the cheapest cars to run in Australia at $171.90 per week. 

See the complete list of running costs for cars here. 

By comparison, the most expensive vehicles to own and operate in the survey of more than 79 of Australia's top-selling cars were the Nissan Patrol and Toyota LandCruiser heavy-duty four-wheel-drives, the latter costing $29,369 a year to keep on the road, or $565 a week.

The Suzuki Baleno might be a bargain hunter's dream but the car is dearer in some states compared to others.

The Suzuki Baleno GL with automatic transmission costs $18,990 drive-away in Queensland but is currently $19,990 drive-away in every other state and territory.

There is a $1000 price difference because Suzuki cars are sold through an independent distributor in Queensland, while the other states are represented by a subsidiary of the Japanese parent company.

There is nothing stopping Australian car buyers crossing the Queensland border to get the better deal.

However, when asked why Queenslanders pay less for the same car, a statement from the distributor, Mayfairs Wholesale, said: “Different distributors and retailers of the same brands often offer marketing specials, purchase-price incentives and a myriad of other variations which can make any product less expensive or more expensive in different areas, at any given time."

The figures in the survey show that, as a general rule, the less money you spend on a car the less money you lose.

Smaller cars are also more affordable, more fuel efficient and cheaper to service. But that advice is of little help to families who need a big car.

The top cars in each category are: 

LIGHT CAR

Suzuki Baleno GL, 1.4L 4sp auto hatch

Estimated on-road price: $20,144.80

Annual running cost: $8,486.47

Monthly running cost: $707.21

SMALL CAR

Hyundai i30 GO, 1.6L t/dsl 7DSG hatch

Estimated on-road price: $29,095

Annual running cost: $10,468.62

Monthly running cost: $872.39

MEDIUM CAR

Toyota Camry Ascent Hybrid, 2.5L CVT

Estimated on-road price: $34,543

Annual running cost: $12,017.02

Monthly running cost: $1,001.42

PEOPLE MOVER

Honda Odyssey VTi, 2.4L CVT

Estimated on-road price: $43,207.2

Annual running cost: $15,511.16

Monthly running cost: $1,292.60

ELECTRIC

Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid, Elite PHEV 1.6L

Estimated on-road price: $46,629

Annual running cost: $14,793.53

Monthly running cost: $1,232.79

SUV SMALL

Hyundai Venue GO,1.6L 2WD 6sp auto

Estimated on-road price: $25,680.60

Monthly running cost: $10,214.67

Monthly running cost: $851.22

SUV MEDIUM

Mitsubishi Outlander ES, 2.4L AWD 7 seat CVT

Estimated on-road price: $39,169.40

Annual running cost: $14,000.70

Monthly running cost: $1,166.73

SUV LARGE

Subaru Outback 2.5i, AWD CVT

Estimated on-road price: $41,941

Annual running cost: $15,040.25

Monthly running cost: $1,253.35

ALL TERRAIN (4X4)

Mitsubishi Pajero Sport GLX, 2.4L t/dsl 5 seat 8sp auto

Estimated on-road price: $51,981.80

Annual running cost: $17,822.68

Monthly running cost: $1,485.22