Lower interest rates and competitive purchase pricing have seen new car ownership become more affordable, according to the results of RAC’s 2018 Vehicle Operating Costs survey, released today.

The annual survey assessed 140 new cars across 14 vehicle categories to calculate ownership costs over five years, based on driving 12,000 kilometres a year. 

The results reveal the average cost of running a new car — a combination of purchase price, on-road costs, interest rates, depreciation, fuel, servicing and other maintenance — has decreased by approximately $4 a week, from $217.48 in 2017 to $212.86 in 2018.

RAC Manager Vehicles and Sustainability Alex Forrest said it was important motorists consider the ongoing costs when purchasing a new car.
“Depreciation is by far the single biggest cost of owning a new car, on average making up 43 per cent of the cost over five years,” he said. 

“On-road costs such as stamp duty and registration make up 21 per cent of running costs, while fuel accounts for 11 per cent, which are all costs motorists have little control over.”

Mr Forrest said the overall reduction in running costs could have been larger if not for ongoing increases in areas such as fuel and registration.
“Unleaded petrol is up 9c per litre compared to last year, an increase of $108 a year for an average car.

“Over the past two years, registration fees have also increased by more than 10 per cent in total.”

In this year’s survey, the cheapest new car to own, and winner of the micro vehicle category, was the Mitsubishi Mirage ES, at $102.73 per week. 

The Kia Cerato S, at $123.33. per week, was the cheapest of the small cars while the Mitsubishi Triton GLX was the cheapest 4WD ute, coming in at $214.57 a week.

Mr Forrest said in addition to cost, safety must also be a priority for new car buyers. 

“Many vehicles in the market today are well-priced, but not all represent the best value in the area of vehicle safety, so we encourage buyers to check ANCAP and purchase vehicles with the maximum five-star rating,” he said. 

A list of category winners is provided below, with more information on the full breakdown of results here. 

2018 Vehicle Operating Costs winners




Overall operating cost ($ per week)

ANCAP Safety Rating*


Mitsubishi Mirage ES




Suzuki Swift GL




Kia Cerato S




Skoda Octavia 110 TSI




Holden Commodore RS



People mover

Honda Odyssey VTi



Sports car

Mazda MX-5 Roadster



SUV small

Suzuki Vitara RT-S



SUV medium

Haval H6 Premium



SUV large

Subaru Outback 2.5i



SUV all terrain

Mitsubishi Pajero Sport GLX



2WD ute

Mitsubishi Triton GLX



4WD ute

Mitsubishi Triton GLX (4x4)



Electric / Plug-in

Mitsubishi Outlander Phev LS



*Vehicles are awarded an ANCAP safety rating of between 1 to 5 stars indicating the level of safety they provide in the event of a crash. The more stars, the better the vehicle performed in ANCAP tests.

Media contact: Steph Gavlak 0401 703 719

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