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Fuel efficiency is an increasingly important consideration when it comes to buying a new car, not just in terms of how often you’ll have to fill up, but also on how much the vehicle is going to impact the environment.
While fuel economy is one way to gauge the range of your car, you also need to consider the size of the fuel tank.
After all, even if a car is super efficient, that doesn’t help you too much if you need to keep refilling it due to a small fuel tank.
So, we’ve combined these two factors to find out which of the 100 most common cars on Australia’s roads have the longest driving range, as well as seeing how the new breed of electric vehicles stack up against their petrol and diesel alternatives.
Models with the Greatest Range
This is based on manufacturers’ stated fuel consumption rates, sourced from CarAdvice.com.au — this may not accurately reflect real-life driving conditions. Note that all figures relate to the 2020 models of each vehicle.
1. Toyota Land Cruiser Prado - 1,875km
Of Australia’s most popular vehicles, Toyota’s Land Cruiser Prado had by far the greatest range, travelling 1,875km on a full tank of fuel. While its fuel consumption of 8L/100km is about average for an SUV, the huge 150L fuel tank is what makes the difference here.
2. BMW X1 - 1,298km
The BMW X1 crossover has a great fuel economy for an SUV and as a result, allows you to drive just under 1,300km on a full 61-litre tank.
3. Mazda CX-8 - 1,233km
Another SUV takes third place, Mazda’s CX-8, a mid-size crossover which is only available in selected markets in Asia and Oceania. The CX-8 is a seven-seater version of the Mazda CX-5 and boasts a 74L fuel tank, along with fuel consumption of 6L/100km, for an estimated range of 1,233km on a full tank.
Vehicle Classes with the Greatest Range
Looking across the 100 best-selling cars in Australia, which types of vehicles can travel the furthest on a full tank? Heavy-duty options such as utes (962km) and SUVs (906km) proved to have the greatest ranges, on average, among the more popular vehicle classes, however, it should be noted that this is generally due to their larger fuel tank sizes rather than because of their fuel efficiency.
On the other hand, smaller vehicles such as superminis (744km) and city cars (742km) will need to be filled more often.
*Note that executive cars (2), MPVs (2), vans (1) and sports cars (1) were underrepresented in the top 100 best selling cars, so we were unable to calculate meaningful averages for these classes.
It’s also immediately clear from looking at the figures that vehicles which run on petrol or diesel have much greater ranges than electric alternatives.
The Tesla Model S 100 kWh model was the electric vehicle with the greatest range, at 647km per full charge, but even that didn’t match the Hyundai Accent (652km on a full tank), which had the lowest range out of Australia’s 100 most popular cars.
The issue of range anxiety for owners of electric vehicles is compounded by Australia’s relative lack of charging infrastructure, with as few as 0.1 chargers per electric vehicle in some states.
While they may struggle to do the longest road trips, EVs are becoming increasingly popular with city drivers and commuters, where the environmental benefits may be seen to outweigh the shorter ranges, with 2019 seeing 6,718 electric and hybrid cars sold, a huge increase on previous years.
Finally, we also looked at the estimated ranges of some of the most popular hybrid vehicles, which offered the greatest range of any vehicles that we looked at.
The most impressive was the Volvo S60 T8, with a 60-litre tank capacity (larger than most hybrids) and a fuel consumption of just 2 litres per 100km, resulting in an estimated range of 3,000km!
We looked at the 100 top-selling cars in Australia in 2019, according to CarsGuide. For each vehicle, we took the fuel consumption and fuel tank capacity statistics for the 2020 model of the vehicle from CarAdvice, converting the litres per 100km figure to kilometres per litre, to calculate the distance that can be travelled on a full tank.
We also looked at 25 electric vehicles and 25 hybrid vehicles currently available in Australia, sourced from articles including the following:
For electric vehicles, estimated range figures were sourced from the individual brand websites.