What's cheaper? A Toyota Rav4 Petrol or Diesel?

Posted by Daniel Tomlinson
Posted in

Following on from our last article regarding the price disparity between diesel and petrol mid sized cars, this week we’ll look at the same idea – but in the SUV segment, using the original SUV, Toyota’s Rav 4 as our guinea pig. 

We’ll be comparing two AWD GX automatic Rav 4’s, obviously one diesel and one petrol. 

In the first study, where the Holden Cruze was used for comparison purposes, the petrol variant came out victorious, costing the owner almost $4000 less after 60,000kms and still $1500 less after selling both cars on.


Round 1: Drive Away Prices

  • Diesel-$42,100 RSP
  • Petrol-$38,495 RSP
Thanks to the inherently higher costs associated with building a diesel powered car, the petrol Rav 4 hits the lead straight away. 

Firstly the petrol car gets ahead by $3605 upon initial purchase and after servicing both cars six times over three years, costing you $1020 apiece, the diesel car is still lagging $3605 behind.

Round 2: Servicing Costs

  • Diesel-$170 (6 months/10,000kms)
  • Petrol-$170 (6 months/10,000kms)
Unlike the Cruze case study, where the diesel car was more expensive to service, neither Rav 4 gains the upper hand here, with Toyota employing a capped price across the board.

Round 3: Fuel Economy

  • Diesel-6.2L/100km
  • Petrol-8.5L/100km
Now for the interesting part, can the diesel claw its way back into the contest on fuel economy? 

Well if we once again use the most recent average fuel prices for Brisbane as our starting point with $1.59 for diesel and $1.51 for ULP, we’ll figure out the total fuel expenditure for each car over 60,000kms. 

The diesel Rav will chew through roughly 3720 litres of juice, or $5914 worth, whereas the petrol car will happily drink 5100 litres of ULP, which equates to $7701 using our average fuel prices. 

Once again, these Toyota SUVs differ from the midsize Holdens with the diesel car outstripping the petrol car in the economy stakes by a whopping 2.3 litres (vs a 0.7L win for the Cruze diesel).


Overall costs then work out to be $49,034 including purchase price for the diesel powered Toyota, while the petrol car will owe you less at $47,216. Once again then, petrol has reigned supreme over diesel after the number crunching is run and done. 

The diesel car battled valiantly to effectively halve the price difference to $1818 after three years on the road but it wasn’t enough to take the crown from the price king; petrol. 

Obviously, given another three years of ownership of both cars the diesel SUV would draw level with the petrol powered vehicle, meaning that if you plan on owning the car for six years, the choice between diesel or petrol power is purely personal rather than financial.