The ultimate 2020 car guide for Uber drivers in Australia

    The best cars for Uber
    1000 500 Balazs Szekely

    What makes the best cars for driving Uber in Australia? From the all-important fuel consumption through comfort, safety, to reliability, and even how good the car looks on the road – there’s a lot to take into consideration. Not only that, it needs to match Uber’s requirement of being less than 10 years old, have air conditioning, insurance and 4 doors. Choosing the best car for Uber in Australia can be a challenging decision, one that you shouldn’t take rashly.

    At Splend, our flexible Uber car rental plans have helped over 15,000 people globally to earn an income with rideshare and delivery platforms such as Uber, Ola and Amazon Flex. Our experience combined with that of our members has allowed us to create this ultimate guide of what you need to consider when choosing a car for Uber.

     

    What do the best Uber cars have in common?

    The first thing that comes to mind when you think of the best cars for Uber is the rider’s experience. But your behaviour as a driver is in fact the basis of that – chrome and leather are just the very tip of the pyramid when it comes to earning consistent five-star driver ratings and tips.

    What you need first and foremost is a trusty tool that gets you through the day without hiccups and keeps as much money in your pocket as possible. Here’s what you need to look for when choosing a car for Uber driving:

    1. Good fuel economy

    The biggest running cost of any car is the energy required to drive it around, whether there’s a thirsty petrol engine, a modern electric drivetrain, or some sort of hybrid technology under the bonnet. Each category has its own advantages and drawbacks that make them suitable for different uses, but one thing is clear: the more you move towards hybrid models, the lower your daily energy costs will be.

    2. Low or fixed-price servicing costs

    Given you’re driving so much, you’ll need to have the car serviced two or three times each year, so affordable servicing is a must. Korean and Japanese cars are known for their solid build quality and reasonably priced spare parts so they’re a good choice for a long-term investment.

    Opting for a Rent to own plan with fixed servicing costs is another way to minimise the expenses and headaches that come with routine maintenance for years to come.

    How much does car maintenance cost in Australia?

    This depends on a lot of factors from how much you use your car to your driving style. The maintenance of the most popular Uber cars costs around $1,000-1,200 per year on average, or about $23 per week.

    How often are cars serviced in Australia?

    Your car should ideally get a full service once a year or every 10-12,000 km. However, if you look after the car well and always take it in for a quick check whenever something doesn’t feel right, you may get away with a more affordable basic service too.

    We recommend small but frequent check-ups as it’s cheaper in the long run and less of a financial burden compared to a rare but costly general maintenance.

    What is the difference between a basic car service and a full service?

    A basic car service includes a routine check to diagnose any issues and taking care of the consumables that wear out or get used up most frequently as you drive the car. These include the oil and other fluids, filters, wiper blades, etc.

    A full service includes everything that’s in a basic service and a more thorough check including engine diagnosis, reconditioning the suspension, swapping the fuel filters, and more repairs depending on the car’s overall condition.

    3. Strong resale value

    It’s just the nature of any car: they’re depreciating assets, meaning that their value starts to drop the moment they roll out of the dealership. It’s closely linked to the car’s age and mileage, but different models also depreciate at different rates regardless of how and how much you drive.

    Asian manufacturers that offer some of the most popular Uber cars are among the slowest-depreciating brands. Kia leads the pack and also Toyota, which is not only fuel efficient but has a great reputation in the market. Mid-size SUVs are especially popular for resale as they deliver everything the modern Australian family wants such as low running costs and plenty of passenger- and luggage space.

    How to minimise car depreciation?

    While it’s impossible to avoid, choosing a model that maintains its value well is the best way to keep depreciation at bay. Given the volume of riders getting in and out of your Uber car, it’s best to go for one that has a robust interior with good quality synthetic materials as they don’t deteriorate quickly.

    Regular maintenance using original or manufacturer-approved spares and keeping a detailed service record is another way to maximise your car’s resale value.

    4. Plenty of space

    Spacious cars are becoming an industry standard in ridesharing. There are many cars that would otherwise be excellent in the city traffic, but have little to almost no rear legroom once you push back the front seats to a comfortable setting. These might be fine for taking the kids to school in the morning, but passenger comfort should be up there with the highest-priority features when you’re choosing your car for Uber driving.

    Small hatchbacks and even some larger sedans also have ridiculously small boots. Again, for the daily commute and the odd shopping trip these are more than plenty, but Uber driving involves many trips to the airports and railway stations. It would be a shame having to decline these for lack of luggage space.

    5. Affordable insurance

    To drive Uber, you need a car insurance policy that will cover you for ridesharing. This is something that Uber does not cover for you and Uber’s free contingency cover will only cover bodily injury to you, the driver.

    Since this doesn’t cover for any accident damage, it’s important to have comprehensive or at least third-party car insurance to help cover some of the potential costs and to think of Uber’s insurance as more of a safety net.

    What are the best cars for Uber in Australia?

    Based on the first-hand experience of over 15,000 Uber drivers globally, we outlined three of the most fuel-efficient car categories, and looked at some of the most popular models within each.

    Click the links in the column headers to read more.

    ModelMitsubishi
    Outlander
    Kia
    Sportage
    Toyota
    Corolla Hybrid
    Toyota
    Camry Hybrid
    CategoryInternal combustionHybrid drive
    Body7-seater SUVMid-size SUVHatchbackSedan
    Scheduled servicing15,000 km15,000 km15,000 km15,000 km
    Fuel consumption7.2 L/100 km (combined)7.9 L/100 km (combined)4.2 L/100 km (combined)4.2 L/100 km (combined)
    Fuel costs (/week) *[1]$100.80$110.60$58.80$58.80
    Insurance costs (/week) *[2]$54.89$48.5$51.89$45.5
    Running costs
    (/week) *[3]
    $23$23$23$23
    Boot volume (L)591491217524
    Retail price (starting from) *[4]From $29,490From $28,390From $27,395From $31,790
    *[1] Manufacturer information – calculated at 1,000 km/week at an average rate of $1.4/L.
    *[2] Pricing estimate courtesy of AAMI, based on a yearly charge for comprehensive car insurance with more than 20,000 km travelled per year. Calculated for a 31-year-old male residing in Auburn, NSW, with no insurance claims in the past 3 years.
    *[3] Estimate based on the following replacement parts over a 4-year term: 12 tyres, 3 front- and rear wheel alignments, 12 brake pads, 12 brake discs, 9 windscreen wiper blades, 2 sets of headlight globes and 1 battery.
    *[4] Estimates courtesy of carguide.com.au on 2020 models

     

    Internal-combustion-engine cars

    What is an internal combustion engine?

    Internal combustion engines are the common petrols and diesels that everyone knows. Although electric and hybrid technologies are gaining ground, these cars continue to be the most popular due to their instant availability, good power to weight ratio, long range, and the solid fuel and service infrastructure.

    They generally consume more fuel than hybrids, but they also have a simpler construction, which can mean less headaches when it comes to maintenance and troubleshooting.

     

    Mitsubishi Outlander

    The Outlander is nothing short of a crowd-pleaser, and when we say crowd, you can take it almost literally. It transforms into the ultimate people-carrier in a matter of seconds by popping two extra seats up from the boot floor, while still leaving a decent-sized luggage space in the back.

    It excels even when you use it as a normal 5-seater. Three adults can sit comfortably in the second row, and you’ll have no problem fitting all of their hand- and hold luggage in the boot – an especially useful feature for airport rides.

    Mitsubishi Outlander - Rent-to-Own

    One of our members, Graham aka the #TheBestUberEver chose the Mitsubishi Outlander on our Rent to own plan so he could provide his riders with a better experience, since he can, as he puts it, “keep groups of people together, which is awesome.”

    Learn more about the Mitsubishi Outlander

    Kia Sportage

    The Kia Sportage has quickly become the most popular among our members, available on both Rent and Rent to own plans. The increased carrying capacity due to the huge and cleverly arranged boot, and the overall passenger comfort earns our members consistent 5-star reviews.

    The car features Bluetooth hands-free connectivity as well as AUX-in and USB ports for smartphones and MP3 music players. This feature is popular with passengers who want to listen to their own music while on the road. It also has a 3.5-inch screen in the dashboard which can be hooked up with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto a safer, smarter way to use your phone in the car. The display is also hooked up to a reversing camera, which makes parking in the city a breeze.

    In testing, the Kia Sportage scored a five-star safety rating in the ANCAP tests, which means increased safety for both you and your passengers. CarsGuide rated the Kia Sportage 4 out of 5 stars with special mention to the stylish looks and the increased passenger room, making it a big hit with Uber passengers.

    Kia Sportage 2018 - Rent-to-Own

    Our members get loads of compliments for the quality and comfort of the Kia Sportage. Huss, who was the number-one ranked Uber driver in the world for 5-star comments, even received an award from Uber.

    When Huss signed up to our Rent plan, he had a 4.87 Uber rating, but now boasts an impressive 4.95.

    Don’t take our word for it – hear the story from the man himself:

    Learn more about the Kia Sportage

    Sign up to drive an internal-combustion-engine car
     

    Petrol-electric hybrid cars

    What is a petrol-electric hybrid car?

    A car is considered a hybrid-drive if it uses two different means of propulsion. This most often means a combined drivetrain with an electric motor as well as a petrol or diesel engine. Although they have a powerful electric motor, in lifestyle terms they’re the same as a conventional car: you just fill up and go, no need for an external source of electric power.

    Hybrids generally consume less fuel and have lower CO2 emissions than a comparable car with only an internal combustion engine

     

    Toyota Corolla Hybrid

    A brand synonymous with reliability the Toyota Corolla is one of the most reliable and popular hybrids on the market on top of being environmentally friendly. It’s practical and easy to drive, making it suitable for long hours behind the wheel.

    Toyota Corolla - Rent-to-Own

    Learn more about the Toyota Corolla Hybrid

    Toyota Camry Hybrid

    The Toyota Camry Hybrid is available on a Rent to own plan, so you can put your weekly payments toward owning your car, without a lock-in contract.

    The Toyota Camry Hybrid has established itself as one of the best cars for Uber with its amazing combined fuel efficiency of 4.2 L/100 km. Fuel is one of the main expenses for any driver, so the Camry literally puts money in your pocket. A fun feature: the onboard computer stores your best fuel consumption figures and congratulates you every time you set a new record.

    Toyota Camry - car for Uber

    Fuel economy shouldn’t mean sluggish performance. The Camry packs plenty of punch thanks to the electric motor’s instant peak torque, giving you the ability to zip in and out of city traffic. For a sedan, the Toyota Camry Hybrid has plenty of space too and it’s very comfortable for you and your passengers. The boot has enough room to fit even large suitcases, something you’ll appreciate doing airport runs.

    On the safety front, the Toyota Camry Hybrid scored an ANCAP safety rating of 5 stars, the maximum possible, giving you peace of mind that you and your passengers are safe.

    Vipan used to drive a taxi and decided to make the switch to Uber. He’s working towards owning his Toyota Camry Hybrid on our Rent to own plan. Vipan enjoys the fact that the car is his but it’s not his liability.

    Hear the story in Vipan’s own words:

    Read more about the Toyota Camry Hybrid

    Sign up to drive a petrol-electric hybrid

    About Splend

    We enable people to make money by driving for on-demand apps such as Uber.

    We’re more than a car rental company. In addition to new-model cars and all the essentials to start earning money with Uber as quickly as possible, our members enjoy driver training and dedicated support via a personal account manager, as well as member benefits such as partner discounts and exclusive events.

    For more information about Splend, make an appointment an drop by to your local Member Support Centre, email us, or say hello on 1800 775 363.

    AUTHOR

    Balazs Szekely

    Maker by nature, writer by profession, and a petrolhead at heart, Balazs is our very own content creator who brings Splend’s voice to life. He’s been a wordsmith his entire career, having seen it all from the print media to radio through online publishing and marketing copywriting. He’s fascinated by things he has yet to fully understand such as photography, ice hockey, and the bizarre art of aquascaping. In his free time you may find him mixing up cocktails for his friends or away from home on a city break. Drop him a line at balazs.szekely@splend.com

    All stories by: Balazs Szekely