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The Least Expensive Cars to Own

March 15, 2012

New car shoppers tend to focus too much on the price of a vehicle, and fail to realize that ownership costs are actually more important.

Just because a vehicle has a low price doesn't mean it will cost you less than a higher-priced vehicle. Factors such as depreciation, fuel, insurance, maintenance and repair end up costing buyers way more than the actual price of a vehicle.

Over a five-year period, if you can keep your ownership costs below $30,000, you're in the top 5% when it comes to saving money.

Kelley Blue Book just released a list of the most fuel-efficient vehicles that will cost you around $30,000 or less over a five-year period. Note that these are all base models with no additional options included.

VehicleFuel EconomyPricingCost to Own
MakeModelTrimCityCombHwyMSRPAverage Paid5-Year Cost
NissanVersaSedan 4D303338$11,770 $11,093 $25,818
HyundaiAccentGLS Sedan 4D303340$13,320 $12,657 $27,743
KiaSoulSport Wagon 4D293236$14,650 $14,111 $28,131
ToyotaYarisHatchback 2D303338$14,875 $14,009 $28,167
MazdaMAZDA2Sport Hatchback 4D293235$15,325 $15,153 $28,457
FordFiestaSedan 4D293340$13,995 $13,488 $28,639
HondaFitHatchback 4D283135$15,945 $15,441 $29,370
HyundaiElantraGLS Sedan 4D293340$16,120 $15,519 $29,498
KiaRioHatchback 4D303340$14,150 $13,513 $29,862
ScionxDHatchback 4D272933$16,075 $15,689 $29,913
HondaCivicDX Coupe 2D283239$16,375 $15,386 $29,928
HondaInsightHatchback 4D414244$19,120 $18,382 $30,647
MazdaMAZDA3SV Sedan 4D273139$15,995 $14,789 $30,784
ToyotaCorollaSedan 4D273034$16,890 $15,877 $30,807
VolkswagenJettaSedan 4D  242732$16,135 $15,167 $30,868

My Recommendation for Car Shoppers

TrueCar, Edmunds, and 1-800 Car Show are the quickest way to see the lowest car prices in your area. These sites show you no-haggle prices from dealers closest to you - and the deals are usually really good. This should be the first step you take when negotiating your car price. Follow this up with my checklist to make sure you squeeze out every last bit of savings.
- Gregg Fidan

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Gregg Fidan

About: Gregg Fidan


Gregg Fidan + is the founder of RealCarTips. After being ripped off on his first car purchase, he devoted several years to figuring out the best ways to avoid scams and negotiate the best car deals. He has written hundreds of articles on the subject of car buying and taught thousands of car shoppers how to get the best deals.

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