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WT$?! How much more we're really paying for 2023 Toyota RAV4, MG ZS, Kia Sportage, Ford Ranger and other popular models compared to before

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Some models like the Honda HR-V are priced higher than before because they're now better, but others just cost more.
Some models like the Honda HR-V are priced higher than before because they're now better, but others just cost more.

Everything seems to be more expensive.

Not just cars, but pretty much all goods and services since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, made worse by the resulting production shortages, soaring demand and extended wait times.

We’re not imagining it either. The Australian Bureau of Statistics says that the inflation rate has risen to 7.3 per cent year-on-year. To put that into context, the average jump between 1960 to 2021 was 4.7%.

Let’s take a look at some of the bestselling models to see whether the difference between their 2021 and 2022 prices is below, on-par or above that 7.3% inflation rate.

Or, in other words, are new-car buyers being price gouged?

Top 10 brands

Toyota is 2.8% under the inflation rate.
Toyota is 2.8% under the inflation rate.

For this exercise, we compared the average price of each top-10 brand’s model ranges from November 2022 with the same month from the year before, to find out if their differences each outpaced inflation or not.

For example, the current cheapest Toyota is the Yaris Ascent Sport at $23,740 and most expensive is the LandCruiser Sahara ZX at $137,981. Taking in the 144 other individual models in between (like Corolla and HiLux), the average new Toyota in November, 2022 cost $51,087; one year earlier it was $49,661, or 2.8% less.

That means Toyota prices remained well below the 7.3% inflation rate over the same period. But not all brands are priced equally. 

Here are the top-10 brands in November 2022 versus November 2021:

Above inflation rateBelow inflation rate
MG 12.0%Hyundai 3.9%
Subaru 10.5%VW  3.0%
Kia 8.8%Toyota  2.8%
Mitsubishi 7.5%Isuzu 1.6%
 Mazda 0.5%
 Ford 0.2%

The average price of a new MG, Subaru, Kia and Mitsubishi all rose above the national inflation rate over the same period.

With no real changes made to Subaru or MGs over that time frame with the exception of the latter’s ZS EV, you have to wonder why. 

Subaru is 10.5% over the current inflation rate.
Subaru is 10.5% over the current inflation rate.

At least Kia and Mitsubishi have been releasing all-new or substantially updated models like the EV6, Niro II and Outlander to justify their higher pricing.

Meanwhile, brands perceived as being significantly more expensive nowadays – namely Toyota and VW – actually ran well under the inflation rate, while, perhaps shockingly, Mazda and Ford prices hardly moved at all on average during the 2021/22 timeframe.

Outside the Top 10 brands

Above inflation rateBelow inflation rate
Land Rover  16.2%Honda 6.8%
Jeep  9.8%Suzuki  6.2%
 BMW 3.0%

Outside this year’s top-10 brands, Land Rover buyers copped a 16.2% price increase, though this reflects big model change activity the marque is currently undertaking, as is Honda, which is running at 6.8%.

Jeep, which has released the new-generation Grand Cherokee but the rest of the range is largely unchanged from last year, is up substantially at nearly 10%, reflecting the American 4x4 marque’s march upmarket.

Suzuki, too, is claiming that it’s no longer “cheap and cheerful’ and the prices sure tell the story, with a 6.2% leap over 2021. Why? We can’t say. Only the ageing S-Cross has undergone any meaningful revamp. BMW pricing, too, has edged up, though at just 3.0% over the past year, it’s well under inflation. For now….

Popular models

Breaking the figures down even further, here are the price differences for popular models over the same period of time (2022 versus 2021).

Above inflation rateBelow inflation rate
Honda Civic* 36.9%Kia Sportage 5.8%
Jeep Wrangler 29.0%Subaru Forester 4.7%
MG ZS* 16.1%Suzuki Swift 3.6%
Mitsubishi Outlander 15.1%Ford Ranger 3.0%
Honda HR-V* 13.7%Toyota Corolla 2.9%
Toyota RAV4 12.0%Mitsubishi Triton 2.9%
Mercedes-Benz C-Class (sedan) 11.4%Isuzu D-Max 1.8%
Kia Seltos 9.9%Mazda CX-5 1.7%
MG 3* 9.8%Toyota Prado 0.7%
Hyundai i30 7.4%Toyota HiLux >0.1%

* denotes driveaway pricing

Here we can get into some nitty gritty stuff.

Over a 12-month period, prices for both the Jeep Wrangler and Honda Civic rocketed, at a rate that is four and five times the inflation growth respectively.

At least the Honda Civic and HR-V ­­– which jumped up 36.9% and 13.7% respectively ­– are new-generation models, with the latter especially taking huge strides forward in comfort, refinement and dynamic capabilities. Both are substantially better than their predecessors.

However, while the same is also true for the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Wrangler highlighted here has seen its price leap nearly 30% year-on-year, with no visible change to the product during that time. Again, Jeep’s ability to go anywhere now also includes some pretty spectacular social climbing.

MG is fading as the champion of cheap new cars.
MG is fading as the champion of cheap new cars.

Ditto MG’s ZS. On average, its price shot up some 16%, yet the petrol-powered versions are the same as the 2021 models. That’s partly due to the introduction of the improved EV grades, which underwent a thorough revamp.

The MG 3’s 10% leap is also hard to justify, given that it is identical to before. This is disappointing, as a low price and long warranty period provide the Chinese light car’s main competitive edge.

The opposite is true for the Mitsubishi Outlander, which can justify its double-digit increase by being a completely different and better SUV than before. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan has also measurably improved over the past 12 months.

Kia Sportage price rise has been contained below the inflation rate. (Image: Glen Sullivan)
Kia Sportage price rise has been contained below the inflation rate. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

Keep an eye of Toyota, though. Just recently it has started to really push up prices for popular models like the RAV4, and while there have been some worthwhile specification improvements to offset these, they’re no longer as affordable.

At least the Kia Sportage and Subaru Forester rises have been contained below the inflation rate, while it’s a pleasant surprise to see that the perennially popular Suzuki Swift, Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi Triton, Isuzu D-Max and Mazda CX-5 are also following suit.

Summary

Over a 12-month period, Jeep Wrangler prices have rocketed, at a rate that is four times the inflation growth.
Over a 12-month period, Jeep Wrangler prices have rocketed, at a rate that is four times the inflation growth.

As our lists show, there have been some conspicuous price hikes going on over the past year or so, with Honda, Jeep and MG really charging ahead. At least the Japanese brand has obviously improved vehicles to show for it.

We’re concerned that the bottom end of the market is disappearing, with MG now fading as the champion of cheap new wheels. No wonder used-car prices remain so high.

Yet, by and large, while new car prices are rising, and thus are more expensive to buy, most are under the national inflation rate, which flies in the face of the widely-held convention that they’re spiralling out of control.

Byron Mathioudakis
Contributing Journalist
Byron started his motoring journalism career when he joined John Mellor in 1997 before becoming a freelance motoring writer two years later. He wrote for several motoring publications and was ABC Youth radio Triple J's "all things automotive" correspondent from 2001 to 2003. He rejoined John Mellor in early 2003 and has been with GoAutoMedia as a senior product and industry journalist ever since. With an eye for detail and a vast knowledge base of both new and used cars Byron lives and breathes motoring. His encyclopedic knowledge of cars was acquired from childhood by reading just about every issue of every car magazine ever to hit a newsstand in Australia. The child Byron was the consummate car spotter, devoured and collected anything written about cars that he could lay his hands on and by nine had driven more imaginary miles at the wheel of the family Ford Falcon in the driveway at home than many people drive in a lifetime. The teenage Byron filled in the agonising years leading up to getting his driver's license by reading the words of the leading motoring editors of the country and learning what they look for in a car and how to write it. In short, Byron loves cars and knows pretty much all there is to know about every vehicle released during his lifetime as well as most of the ones that were around before then.
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