Comparison of 3-year ownership costs of EV, gas luxury SUVs

Comparison of 3-year ownership costs of EV, gas luxury SUVs

Looking at 3-year running costs of gasoline, hybrid, and all-electric options

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We recently brought readers a comparison of three-year running costs for popular SUVs of similar size but packing vastly different methods of propulsion. These days, one can find rigs powered by gasoline or electricity — or a combination of both — during their shopping efforts. Our job is to sift through the data and present a few conclusions which may not be obvious on first blush. After all, vehicular expenditures don’t end with the monthly payment. Cost of energy (gasoline or electricity) plus the confusing mix of government rebates and ongoing maintenance all conspire to tilt balance sheets.

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This time around, we are focusing attention on luxury crossovers and SUVs, a massively popular segment filled with cutthroat competition from the world’s best brands. We selected an array of vehicle sizes, not with the intent of comparing them against each other but to illustrate how three-year cost calculations don’t discriminate on overall dimension. Building on suggestions from the last article, powertrain type is noted for each vehicle for easy identification — PHEV, EV, and so on.

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The numbers shown here are accurate as of this writing and, for consistency, government rebates are correct for the province in which your author resides. Readers are encouraged to examine their own area’s willingness to shovel money at rebate programs. Some brands include a finite amount of maintenance in the asking price of their vehicles, explaining why that metric is blank in a couple of examples. Energy costs are noted in the charts and we assume an average driving distance of 20,000 km per year. If you’re looking for our assessment on pickup trucks, that’s coming soon.

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2023 Genesis Electrified GV70
2023 Genesis Electrified GV70 Photo by Genesis

Let’s begin with Genesis since they are the newest brand on this list and, well, their name makes for a good list-starting pun. Here we’ve selected its popular GV70 crossover, a machine which is converting some customers away from established players and probably causing a few sleepless nights in Germany — just like its progeny caused sleepless nights in Japan decades ago.

Offered with two different gasoline engines (strong and stronger), the GV70 is fleet of foot no matter which powertrain is chosen. Its stouter option is understandably more expensive, both in terms of initial price and operating cost, but the near identical three-year projection for the all-electric and six-cylinder variants surprised the tar out of this author. Genesis pays for maintenance during this period, making that variable a wash, and no government rebates are part of the deal because the GV70 exceeds that program’s price cap.

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Instead, the sole differentiator comes down to energy cost. Despite the EV bearing an initial purchase price of about $14,000 more than the gasser, a figure magnified by taxes and interest rates, its projected three-year cost of ownership is actually a few shillings less than its gasoline-swilling counterpart. If the EV’s estimated range is within reason for your needs, this could be one of the easiest decisions on our list.


The behemoth from Ingolstadt is slinging a number of hybrids and all-electrics these days, the latter showing up under the ‘e-tron’ label — for now, at least; rumours are afoot that Audi’s naming conventions may change significantly in the next couple of years. Shown here are the Audi Q5 with a hybrid engine option and trim level which most closely matches the all-electric Q4 e-tron.

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This time around, government EV rebates play a role in the electric car soundly besting the gasser in terms of three-year cost of ownership. But delving into the numbers show that even without the rebates, the Q4 and Q5 would be neck-and-neck in terms of total cost after three years thanks to the former having far less expensive running costs. Detractors of electric vehicles may be crying for the day when cost parity is reached; to them, we say that day is already here — at least in terms of total expenditures over 36 months for this example.

If you’re wondering about the suspiciously even maintenance costs, that’s down to Audi offering prepaid plans on its new vehicles which can be added to the tab at time of purchase. Since those plans are three years in length and dovetail nicely into our numbers, we simply took the total cost and divided it appropriately.

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2023 Mercedes-Benz EQB 250 SUV
2023 Mercedes-Benz EQB 250 SUV Photo by Mercedes-Benz

Sitting on the smaller end of the crossover/SUV size chart are the Mercedes-Benz GLB and EQB, fraternal twins which share much in terms of styling and interior accommodations but have vastly different powertrains. The GLB 250 4Matic is a gasoline-powered rig with all-wheel drive while the dimensionally similar EQB 250 is pure electric with just its front wheels being propelled.

Like the Audi example, this electron eater qualifies for iZEV funding, driving down its initial purchase cost and impacting its three-year value proposition. The delta between GLB and EQB is a couple of thousand dollars more than the four-ringed example above, so savings in terms of energy cost and maintenance considerations are not as pronounced. Still, the EV is cheaper to operate during the first three years of ownership.

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Speaking of maintenance, the GLB’s numbers shown here are for a three-year prepaid package activated at the time of purchase. Mercedes-Benz doesn’t currently have such an offering for its electric line but our trusted dealers informed us its recent training (summer 2023) revealed EQ vehicles will require servicing every couple of years instead of annually. With one stop in 36 months instead of three, our estimate of one-third the gasser’s cost is reasonable.


We venture into six-figure territory (or close to it) for our BMW examples, moving up a couple of size classes to learn if the other cost trends extend to the moneyed side of the pool as well. The answer is definitely maybe. For this model year, Munich offers its dandy X5 in hybrid or plug-in hybrid form, priced here in similar trims.

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As one may surmise, it takes less than three years for the more expensive PHEV to offset the initial premium by way of lower fuel costs, though not by much since total costs are roughly equal through 36 months. It is worth noting the PHEV is much more powerful, packing over 100 extra horses and far more torque.

Comparing these to an equivalent EV luxury crossover from the same brand is more complicated than our examples so far, since the iX is slightly smaller and less powerful than either of the X5 variants. Nevertheless, it is worth noting the all-electric iX has three-year running costs rivalling that of mere coffee money. As with the Genesis brand, BMW includes maintenance costs for the term of our comparison in the asking price of these machines, explaining those blank rows in the chart above and making head-to-head assessments easy like Sunday gravy.

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Matthew Guy

Matthew Guy is a lifelong gearhead who writes automotive content for Canadian and American outlets. He is alternately described as a freelance author, podcast host, road test magnate, and legend in his own mind. As a member of AJAC, he enjoys sharing his excitement about cars and is very pleased to contribute at Driving.


Matthew’s goal is to put readers in the driver’s seat for a unique and entertaining look at the automotive industry – whether penning vehicle reviews with a creative bent, travelling to manufacturer events for first drives of new models, or speaking with industry stakeholders to gain extra insight for an article During the past decade, he has enjoyed creating unique and creative long-distance adventure drives, sating his (and the reader’s) appetite for driving accomplishments like traversing the spartan wilds of Labrador. Timed challenges in speedy machines also spin his crank. For a spell, he was also behind the microphone for this site’s Truck Guy podcast, interviewing guests ranging from knowledgeable local technicians to world-famous television stars. Find out what it’s like to jump behind the wheel of a pickup truck and successfully tackle gnarly off-road courses. Ride along whilst tackling twisty roads along the Pacific Coast in a droptop convertible. Bundle up as he explores the frigid expanses of Canada from his home on the East Coast to venturing north of the Arctic Circle.


Memorial University of Newfoundland, School of Business B.Comm (Hons.)


2021 Castrol-Wakefield Automotive Writing Award, runner-up


Email: [email protected]


Instagram: @DudeDrivesCars


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