The Most Expensive Car Brands to Maintain

Learn which car brands and models cost the most to maintain in Australia
Published on December 3rd, 2020
  Written by 
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BMW is the most expensive car brand to maintain

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Though you may have your heart set on a certain vehicle, the costs to keep it in top working order can be prohibitive. What are the most expensive car brands to maintain? By thinking long term, you could save a lot of money in fuel, tyres, and servicing.

Which car brands are the most expensive to run?

According to the most recent data, BMW tops the list as the most expensive car brand to maintain, followed by Mercedes-Benz, based on estimates of total car maintenance over 10 years.

RankBrand CostRankBrand CostRankBrand Cost
5Audi$18,36215Land Rover$13,03025Mini$11,112

Source: Yourmechanic.com *Based on estimates of total car maintenance over 10 years **All prices converted from USD to AUD; accurate as of 15/09/22

While the most expensive brands to maintain may come as little surprise, in this article, we’ll be looking at mainstream or mass-market cars, which form the majority of vehicles sold in Australia.

To determine the maintenance costs of each car, we are using RACV data from 2021.

Please note that fuel costs, interest rates, and other goods and services have risen significantly since 2021 due to a combination of economic factors.

We’ll look at average loan repayments; registration in Metro Victoria as a baseline and average comprehensive car insurance; average fuel costs; servicing; and tyres per month, as an average. We’ll also break down the top three most expensive cars by category, and also show you the least expensive car to run in that category.

Orange Mercedes SUV

How much do Australians spend on maintaining their cars?

According to the Australian Automobile Association in Q2 of 2022, the average Australian household spends $1,583 on car servicing (including tyres) per year, which comprises about 8% of yearly transport costs. Canberrans have the highest costs at $2,104, with Adelaide having the cheapest servicing at $1,320.

Which light cars are the most expensive to run

ModelRepaymentsRego / InsuranceFuelServicingTyresTotal
Toyota Yaris Ascent Sport$524.08$157.83$82.57$22.50$9.00$795.97
Volkswagen Polo Trendline 70TSI$509.90$168.16$93.38$48.25$11.27$830.95
Mazda 2 G15 Pure$542.88$143.35$89.31$59.00$10.33$844.86

If you have deep pockets, the Mazda 2 G15 Pure is the one for you, coming in at $844.86 to run per month. The Polo and Yaris are distant second and third – though still edging closer to $1,000 than many other light cars. The least expensive light car to run is the MG3 Core 1.5 four-speed hatch, at a mere $626.50 per month.

Which small cars are the most expensive to run

ModelRepaymentsRego / InsuranceFuelServicingTyresTotal
Mazda 3 G20 Pure $592.78 $147.22 $104.47 $60.30 $10.33 $915.11
Skoda Scala Ambition 1.5 Turbo $665.23 $166.08 $102.71 $46.70 $11.67 $992.39
Hyundai Iconiq Premium Hybrid $835.86 $164.81 $57.29 $25.42 $12.33 $1,095.72

This one really bowled us over – the Hyundai hybrid cost the most to run per month out of the lot – though you’ll be saving money after you’re free and clear of the loan with that fuel cost ending up costing half as much as the competition. There’s not much in it between the Skoda and the Hyundai – but the extra $100 per month may pay for itself in the long run. The least expensive car to run is the Kia Cerato S 2.0 Hatch at $802.25 – though it has the highest fuel bill in this class, at $124.69.

Which medium cars are the most expensive to run

ModelRepaymentsRego / InsuranceFuelServicingTyresTotal
Mazda 6 Sport 2.5 $744.74 $160.07 $117.95 $60.55 $14.33 $1,097.64
Honda Accord VTi-X 1.5 Turbo $1,107.10 $187.60 $109.53 $46.48 $16.60 $1,467.31
Honda Accord VTi-X 2.0 Hybrid $1,167.08 $188.35 $72.46 $45.17 $16.60 $1,489.65

It would seem that Mazda once again show up in the most expensive list, with the Mazda 6 Sport 2.5L weighing in at $1,097.64 – the Honda Accord VTi-X models tip the scales with $400 or so price bumps, but the Hybrid may prove the most cost-effective in the long run, using 25% less fuel than its 1.5L Turbo counterpart. The Toyota Camry 2.5L auto sedan is one of Australia’s best-selling cars for a reason: it’s also the cheapest to run at $1,003.74 per month.

Light Blue Hyundai small SUV

Which small SUVs are the most expensive to run

ModelRepaymentsRego / InsuranceFuelServicingTyresTotal
Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross ES$668.44$179.49$123.01$28.92$21.27$1,021.12
Toyota C-HR GXL$669.67$200.13$123.26$21.08$15.27$1,029.41
Subaru XV 2.0i AWD$656.44$163.27$136.59$60.87$16.33$1,033.50

An all-new line-up emerges in the small SUV category with the Subaru XV just coming in as the most expensive by about four dollars. The gap widens to seven dollars between the Toyota and Mitsubishi – but the cheapest to run, the base model of the Hyundai Venue 1.6 2WD auto, is almost in a league of its own: $793.23.

Which medium SUVs are the most expensive to run

ModelRepaymentsRego / InsuranceFuelServicingTyresTotal
Hyundai Tucson Elite $928.03 $157.44 $101.04 $37.42 $19.27 $1,243.19
Honda CR-V VTi-L 1.5 Turbo $873.24 $197.55 $124.69 $46.55 $19.27 $1,261.29
Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport $902.78 $169.48 $96.23 $91.07 $13.27 $1,272.82

Mazda re-enters the charts as one of the most expensive medium SUVs to run at $1,272.82 per month. Hyundai, which is usually at the cheaper end also makes an appearance at third most expensive. The top-selling Toyota RAV4 GXL Hybrid is the cheapest to maintain at $1,117.64.

Which large SUVs are the most expensive to run

ModelRepaymentsRego / InsuranceFuelServicingTyresTotal
Mazda CX-9 Sport AWD 2.5 Turbo $1,052.67 $191.10 $148.28 $74.42 $21.67 $1,488.13
Toyota Kluger GX 3.5 V6 AWD $1,084.32 $195.02 $164.34 $61.25 $20.33 $1,525.26
Hyundai Palisade 2.2 Turbo Diesel AWD $1,307.94 $170.46 $117.07 $45.25 $23.67 $1,664.39

The luxury model Hyundai Palisade 2.2L Turbo Diesel – which is surprisingly the cheapest when it comes to fuel consumption, tips the scale in repayments and overall costs. Servicing for the Mazda is the highest, while fuel for the beastly Toyota Kluger tops the chart. The cheapest large SUV to maintain is the Subaru Outback 2.5L AWD, at $1,224.78.

Which all-terrain 4×4 are the most expensive to run

ModelRepaymentsRego / InsuranceFuelServicingTyresTotal
Ford Everest Ambiente 3.2 Turbo Diesel $1,156.64 $181.78 $136.32 $33.52 $16.33 $1,524.58
Toyota Prado GX 2.8 Turbo Diesel $1,248.09 $197.40 $126.70 $69.56 $16.33 $1,658.08
Nissan Y62 Patrol V8 Petrol $1,645.23 $291.61 $268.92 $107.23 $24.33 $2,337.33

Is it any surprise the Nissan Patrol with its beefy V8 engine guzzles the most fuel at $268.92? It’s also expensive to own, costing a whopping $2,337.33 to run each month, including loan repayments. Servicing is far and away the biggest expense too! The Ford Everest is almost eight hundred dollars cheaper to run by comparison. If you want the cheapest in class, the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport GLX is almost one thousand dollars less dear than the Nissan at $1,367.32.

Nissan Patrol 4 wheel drive

Which electric vehicles (EVs) are the most expensive to run

ModelRepaymentsRego / InsuranceFuelServicingTyresTotal
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV ES 2.1 $1,020.35 $182.59 $32.02 $35.75 $21.27 $1,291.97
Nissan Leaf EV $1,049.84 $188.27 $53.44 $30.73 $14.60 $1,336.87
Hyundai Kona Elite EV $1,266.03 $158.54 $40.94 $17.75 $11.93 $1,495.19

Now we come to the electric vehicles – which all have minuscule fuel and servicing requirements compared to their petrol driven cousins. The Outlander and Kona are both SUVs – and have slightly elevated running costs in comparison. However, when you factor out the repayments, EVs are far cheaper to run. The MG ZS EV is the cheapest of the lot, costing $1,128.33 to run each month.

Are hybrids and electric vehicles cheaper in the long term?

Savvy CEO Bill Tsouvalas says that sticking to smaller cars or hybrids can keep costs down – and despite the higher loan repayments, will reap rewards later.

“The most expensive cars in this list, when they’re hybrids or electric vehicles, is the loan repayment component. Servicing and fuel become almost trivial compared to petrol or diesel-powered cars, which is something you should keep in mind when shopping for new cars.”

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