The Least Expensive Cars to Own
Five-year ownership costs are at least as important as the initial price tag
Everyone loves a low price tag, but judging new cars by their long-term ownership costs is at least as important. Taking into account such factors as purchase price, value depreciation, cost of insurance, maintenance and repairs, and fuel costs, the Scion iQ, Hyundai Veloster, Buick LaCrosse, Subaru XV Crosstrek and Chevrolet Volt are among the best in their categories.
2013 Scion iQ
Perhaps the least expensive vehicle to own on the market today, and the Cost to Own winner in KBB’s Subcompact Car category, the 2013 Scion iQ has a price tag of just under $16,500 and a projected five-year ownership cost of $27,006, according to KBB.com.
With its 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine, the Scion offers just 94 hp but earns an EPA-estimated fuel economy of 36 mpg city and 37 highway.
While buyers should know that the Scion iQ puts the “sub” in subcompact, the iQ is known for its reliability and serviceability.
“If you live in a big city with very little parking space, the iQ is worth its weight in gold. Its Toyota pedigree ensures its reliability as well as serviceability just about anywhere in the country …” KBB states. But “the iQ is small, and you may not feel very comfortable driving it out on a highway surrounded by big SUVs and 18-wheelers.”
2013 Hyundai Veloster
The winner of Kelley Blue Book’s 5-Year Cost to Own Award in the Sporty Compact Car category, the Veloster is projected to cost $35,607 over five years, according to KBB, in part due to excellent fuel efficiency.
“In either [the four-cylinder or the turbocharged version] the Veloster is surprisingly fuel-efficient, being EPA highway-rated at up to 37 mpg in non-turbo form and up to 35 mpg with the Turbo,” KBB notes, adding that the turbocharged model solves a lack-of-power problem that once plagued the Veloster.
The Veloster also makes a statement on the road.
“With a long and low profile, large wheel arches, and a sloping roof, the 2013 Hyundai Veloster stands out from the automotive crowd,” KBB adds.
2013 Buick LaCrosse
Those looking for a larger vehicle with a low cost of ownership should take a look at the 2013 Buick LaCrosse, and in particular the base model with eAssist. Named by Consumer Reports as the least expensive car to own in the large sedan category, the LaCrosse with eAssist achieves a combined EPA-estimated fuel economy of 29 mpg.
The LaCrosse is a “stylish luxury sedan that’s also big on practicality,” says Edmunds.com, which projects five-year ownership costs for the LaCrosse at $46,663.
“While midsize family sedans garner the most attention and sales, there’s still a place for larger sedans that provide additional room and trunk space,” Edmunds.com says. “One of the more appealing cars of this group is the 2013 Buick LaCrosse, a premium sedan that offers crisp styling, an elegant interior and impressive driving dynamics.”
2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek
Named least expensive to own in the Small SUV category by Consumer Reports — with a five-year projected cost of $35,000 — the Subaru XV Crosstrek is “essentially an Impreza hatchback with additional wheel travel and refined suspension for tuning for off-road or broken pavement midtown adventures,” says Edmunds.com.
Like nearly all Subaru models, the XV Crosstrek comes standard with all-wheel drive. It also delivers impressive cargo space and an EPA-estimated 23 mpg city and 30 highway.
“Around town and on the highway, the 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek’s 2.0-liter/CVT combination does exactly what’s asked of it: mind fuel consumption,” Edmunds explains, adding that, as with most Subaru models, safety comes first for the XV Crosstrek but it’s also fun to drive.
2013 Chevrolet Volt
Electric vehicles can carry a higher initial price tag, but the Chevy Volt proves that this up-front cost can pay off. Projected by KBB to cost $37,153 over the first five years of ownership, the Volt won KBB’s Cost to Own award in the Electric Vehicle category.
Its greatest benefit is fuel economy. The Volt can travel up to 38 miles on pure electric power (for an EPA-estimated 93 mpge), then the gasoline engine kicks in — not only to fuel the vehicle at an EPA-estimated 37 mpg combined, but to help recharge the batteries.
For those not accustomed to driving an electric vehicle, there is a transition period, but it doesn’t last long.
“The 2013 Chevy Volt’s electric motor delivers a big dose of torque right from the get-go, letting the car sprint away quickly from a standing start,” KBB says. “The absence of engine noise is a bit disconcerting at first, and when it does kick in, the way the engine’s revs don’t track road speed can seem odd, but you’ll soon get used to the quirks.”
No matter which vehicle you choose, keep cost of ownership in mind. After all, as KBB explains, “You can save a lot more money by simply choosing the right car than by working a great deal on the wrong car.”
Once you decide on the right car, be sure to talk to us if you have any questions about financing.