With such a congested new-car landscape, Australian car buyers could be forgiven for overlooking raw data and basing their next new car choice on brand allegiance, feature count or whether a hot pink paintjob is available.
Those with a love for bargains will always seek out what car offers the best return for the money, however that requires some significant mathematical jousting. However, for those with an aversion to spreadsheets we've gone the extra mile and done that mental legwork for you.
Our Gold Star Value guide is your passport to getting the best bang for your motoring buck, and is our definitive guide to Australia’s best value-for-money cars in Australia.
Each segment is broken down into multiple price brackets to isolate the luxury players from those in the mainstream market, and we examine more than just the purchase price - fuel economy, depreciation, car insurance and warranty coverage is all factored in to determine which car is the value king.
The result is also weighted against how good that car is to actually drive and live with - cheap running costs are pointless if you wind up hating every moment spent behind the wheel.
63 cars were judged in total, from econobox city cars to high-end performance cars. Here's how we figured out where each one ranked:
AUSTRALIA'S BEST VALUE CARS 2016 CRITERIA
The biggest cost of ownership for most new cars. Of the 2000-plus cars number-crunched, Glass’s three-year retained value figures ran from 33 percent on a base model Toyota Aurion to 69 percent on another Toyota, the Landcruiser GXL.
Comprehensive insurance quotes obtained online from AAMI for a 35-year-old male living in Chatswood, NSW, Rating One for life, no finance, private use.
Annual fuel cost was calculated on ADR combined-cycle consumption figures – not real-world, but a good base for comparison. Annual distance travelled is taken as the ABS Australian average of 14,000km, and fuel prices on the day were used.
Most new-car buyers set out with a budget in mind, so the survey is divided into price brackets. The real cost of owning the car is depreciation, which is where purchase cost comes into our value analysis.
It’s relatively easy to put a representative number on the three-year cost of depreciation, fuel and insurance, so the total of these running costs equate to 80 percent of a car’s score.
Widespread fixed- or capped-price servicing schemes would make it possible to compare car servicing costs, but for the fact they’re not universal. We can score service intervals; a longer interval may result in less expense and it will certainly be more convenient, so it takes the maximum 10 points.
If nothing else, a seven-year warranty gives greater peace of mind compared with a three-year warranty. However, it’s impossible to put a hard cost on what an extra-long warranty is worth; it only translates into cash if something goes bang and is fixed without cost. Warranty accounts for 10 points of 100.