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Australia’s best-value cars: Medium SUVs under $45,000

By Jez Spinks, 18 May 2017 Car Advice

Australia’s best-value cars: Medium SUVs under $45,000

Australia’s fastest-growing vehicle segment is jam-packed with competitive options, but which are the best value?

Medium SUVs are Australia’s fastest-growing vehicle segment, and now the second most popular overall.

If you’re looking to buy into the trend, it’s worth noting that May and June are two of the best months of the year to make your new-car purchase. It’s a period during which almost all manufacturers/dealers advertise special offers to help reach end-of-financial-year targets.

Great value means more than just a great price, of course, and to help you get the best of both worlds, WhichCar’s sister brand Wheels has calculated the key ownership factors and costs to establish which medium-sized, front-wheel-drive SUVs priced under $45,000 offer the best value in their class.

Wheels’ Gold Star Car awards scored cars out of 100. Real costs comprising three-year depreciation and a year’s insurance and fuel expenses accounted for 80 percent of the score, with 10 percent each for servicing costs and warranty.


The days are gone when Kias were simply focused on being the cheapest vehicles in their class, and indeed the $28,990 Sportage Si starts $1000 above the sister Hyundai Tucson. It was even $1800 above the base model of Australia’s biggest-selling SUV, the Mazda CX-5, though the just-launched second-generation model now offers the Maxx FWD from $28,690.

However, Kia’s service intervals remain longer than the Mazda’s – up to 105,000km over seven years compared with up to 50,000km across five years – and the Sportage’s industry-leading seven-year warranty remains more than double the CX-5’s three years.


Add a three-year resale prediction that’s still the right side of 50 per cent (52%), and the Sportage Si sits on the top step of the podium for the Gold Star award.

If you can live with the CX-5 Maxx’s reduced peace-of-mind period, the silver-placed Mazda CX-5 Maxx offers the lowest running costs across three years thanks to the thriftiest fuel consumption (despite a slight increase from 6.4 to 6.9L/100km), strongest resale* (56%), and most affordable annual insurance* ($733).


Hyundai’s Tucson Active, perhaps expectedly, is similar to the Sportage in most respects, with the close contest between this top three meaning a slightly weaker resale (50%) and two years’ less warranty were enough to push it down to the bronze position.

Among the EOFY deals, Kia is offering the Sportage Si (and other trim grades, until 30th June) with a $1000 factory bonus that’s simply deducted from the RRP. Mazda is offering run-out deals on the just-replaced CX-5, though invites buyers to contact dealers for more details. Hyundai’s $27,990 driveaway deal for the Tucson Active is for a manual variant and limited to May.


*Figures based on 2016 Mazda CX-5 Maxx FWD.