The lowest maintenance SUVs

2018 Lexus RX350L front three quarter

A new trend in SUV maintenance has begun emerging over the last few years, with most manufacturers on board, and the ones who aren’t are being ridiculed. It means that servicing your vehicle is getting cheaper, and maintenance overall is easier.

What’s the trend? The increase in the time between service intervals. Years ago it was a rigid 10,000km (6000 miles) for each service. Some vehicles, like the Toyota Prado 120 Series required an additional oil change every 5000km (3100 miles). Now, however, the service intervals have increased to nearly double that.

For example, the Range Rover Velar now has each service interval set at 15,000 miles. That’s a long way between oil changes.

The reason, though, is the changes in technology. It may sound a bit strange, given oil should be the same as it was years ago – it all comes out of the same place – but even oils are better at lubricating than they were in past decades.

For example, the refining processes are better, there are more additives, and oils are also blended with synthetic oils. In fact, some oils are fully synthetic, making them even more effective.

Then there are the advances in engine technology. Tolerances are better, parts are machined to a more exacting degree, bearings last longer, cooling systems work better and even things like the radiator fans now run electrically giving them a higher flow rate (they now spin faster) than ever before.

It all adds up to vehicles that now run better and are more reliable than previous generations, which is why services are getting further and further apart.

Despite this, you can’t just skip out and expect a vehicle to last. The services are there for a reason, and parts only have a finite lifespan, so when someone asks what the lowest maintenance SUV is, actually, there isn’t one.

Every SUV needs to be looked after, and if you come across a second hand vehicle that has an incomplete service history (or the occasional service has been skipped), then run a mile in the other direction.

No-one wants the headache of a potential problem down the track, so only buy cars that have their service history filled out the whole way through.

So, while every SUV needs maintenance done, there are some that need a bit less care than others. What we mean by that is reasonable length intervals and simple services. You know, oil, filters, a couple of adjustments here and there, and a few checks. Reasonably easy stuff that doesn’t cost the earth.

There’s an interesting online service called Repair Pal, which allows you to plug in your make and model and it will estimate the service costs for your SUV.

But what’s also interesting – without sounding like wer’e affiliated, which we’re not – is the reliability index. And some SUVs fare better than others.

SUVs which are cheapest to maintain

Coming out on top is the Hyundai Tuscon, which gives you an average service and repair cost of $413 per year, which comes in under the $504 average for compact SUVs. It was rated 5 out of 5 for its reliability.

Also near the top was the Honda CR-V. Rated 4.5 out of 5 for reliability, with an average cost of $403 per year across service and repairs.

Also in the same class is the Nissan Rogue (Nissan X-Trail), which has a reliability rating of 4.5 out of 5, and service and repair costs averaging at $488 per year.

What about larger vehicles? Well, Lexus has you covered.

The RX 350 comes in with a reliability rating, as you’d expect, of 4.5 out of 5. What’s interesting about that is that Lexus consistently tops the JD Power customer satisfaction and reliability surveys, so it’s not just Repair Pal which is saying it.

The average repair and service costs are higher than the cheaper vehicles mentioned above, as you’d expect, but is still a reasonable $589 per year. Also noted is the fact that major issues are uncommon with the Lexus RX.

Servicing costs aren’t always nice, but it’s good to know that there are several reliable SUVs you can depend on that won’t break the bank.

As always, you don’t have to get your car serviced by a dealer, and you shouldn’t let any dealer tell you otherwise – in fact that’s illegal.

So, a trusted mechanic may in fact save you a few dollars more, and as long as they’re using genuine parts, or even high quality aftermarket parts, then the bills will reduce even further.

While there aren’t any vehicles that require no maintenance, the SUVs listed above will keep you on the road with minimal downtime and minimal cost.

About Karl Peskett 435 Articles
A passionate writer, editor and driver, Karl is the go-to man when it comes to four wheels. With stints in television, radio, print and online, Karl has been writing about cars for more than a decade. He drives around 100 vehicles every year and has tested everything from Bugattis to Suzukis. Sometimes on track, sometimes off-road, his focus is on producing objective journalism without fear or favour.

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