) -- Cheapskates of the car world unite -- you have nothing to lose but the price of an oil change!
If recent gas-price spikes have got you down, consider buying one of the cars that market watcher
Kelley Blue Book
recently found offer the lowest five-year operating costs of any mainstream 2013 model available in the U.S. market.
"These cars are great choices for anyone who's looking for a good vehicle that won't really hurt their wallet," KBB senior market analyst Alex Gutierrez says. "They're excellent vehicles for anyone who spends a lot of time commuting -- or even for a teenager or college kid who's looking for cheap, reliable transportation."
identified cars with the lowest five-year ownership costs by analyzing dozens of 2013s for projected depreciation, fuel costs, financing charges, insurance premiums, maintenance, repairs and state licensing fees.
"It's not just about having the lowest sticker price," Gutierrez says. "It's really about offering consumers the best package -- a low upfront price, good fuel economy and modest maintenance and repair costs."
All of the models on KBB's list of the cheapest 2013s are either subcompacts or "mini cars" that cost little to buy, finance, gas up, insure, maintain or pay taxes on.
But Gutierrez admits they're not for everyone.
"Families that have more than one child will find these cars just don't have the kind of room that they need," he says. "And if you're a Realtor or someone else who has to drive around clients, you're not going to want to cram four or five adults into one."
The expert also notes that automakers offer subcompacts with moon roofs, fancy electronics and pretty much any other option larger vehicles come with these days, though -- meaning cheapskate cars needn't be "budget buggies."
"Consumers no longer have to sacrifice quality or amenities when they buy a subcompact," Gutierrez says. "These cars can be great options for even young families with one child."
Here's a look at the 2013 models that Kelley Blue Book found have the lowest total costs to operate over five years, based on all new-car specifications available publicly as of early February.
Depreciation estimates refer to the difference between a car's projected five-year resale value and its "fair purchase price," the average of what KBB found recent U.S. buyers paid for a given model.
Financing costs assume buyers use five-year car loans that charge 3.29% interest rates and require 10% down, while fuel-expense estimates refer to buyers who drive their vehicles 15,000 miles per year.