Editors' pick: Originally published Feb. 14.
Your vehicle starts depreciating and wearing down as soon as it drives off of the lot: don't pay more to own it than you have to.
Considering depreciation, fuel costs, financing and insurance fees, maintenance costs and state fees, the folks at Kelley Blue Book figured out what it actually costs to own a car during a five-year span. This year, it determined that Subaru and Honda's (HMC - Get Report) Acura luxury brand kept that cost the lowest among all automakers.
"New-car shoppers typically give more consideration to the cost of a car upfront, but sometimes other factors, such as depreciation, maintenance and fuel costs, can significantly increase total ownership costs," says Mike Sadowski, vice president of operations and general manager for Kelley Blue Book. "[This report] evaluates the other out-of-pocket expenses drivers will incur beyond the initial purchase price, which can help consumers shop new-car smart and save money down the road by choosing the vehicle that best fits their needs and their long-term budget."
This year's list vehicles with the lowest ownership cost was peppered with offerings from Toyota (TM - Get Report) , Ford (F - Get Report) , Chevrolet (General Motors (GM - Get Report) ), Buick, Honda, Lexus and Infiniti. While it didn't always include the most affordable cars on the road, it did manage to make some of the costlier options look frugal by comparison. We took a look at KBB's full list and narrowed it to the winners of 20 of the most popular categories. You still lose quite a bit between the selling price and final cost of ownership, but not every car on this list burns through money as quickly as fuel:
Starting price: $13,000
Five-year cost to own: $28,216
If you aren't springing for the EV version, then you're buying a tricked-out econobox. It has 23.4 cubic feet of storage with the rear seats down, a 7-inch diagonal high-resolution color touch-screen, Bluetooth wireless, Apple Siri Eyes Free texting and OnStar remote link access. The 34 miles per gallon are just fine at this size, considering how little maintenance will be required over its lifetime. However, with 119 mpge that gives its better efficiency than a Tesla Model S, we'd advise springing for the electric version if finances allow.
Staring price: $21,140
Five-year cost to own: $35,433
Don't call it an econobox. The Fiesta is slightly sexier in its hatchback version, but it still has Bluetooth and digital media player compatibility through Microsoft's SYNC 3 system, navigation capability, tons of apps, rearview camera, reverse sensing system, capless fuel tank and nearly 200 horsepower. Playthings like a intelligent access, ambient lighting and a suped-up Sony sound system are all extra, but that starting price puts them all within reach. Oh, and the 197-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder engine combined with the Recaro sport seats give you a whole lot of speed for the money.
Starting price: $18,500
Five-year cost to own: $32,251
The Corolla subsists on being cheap, being reliable and getting the job done. Those combined 35 miles per gallon and that 13 cubic feet of trunk space work out just fine and make it the ideally utilitarian vehicle of choice for car rental companies, thrifty families and folks who don't expect a whole lot of excitement from this segment of the market. A starting price under $20,000 is a fairly tempting lure as well.
Starting price: $22,455
Five-year cost to own: $36,442
It brawls with the Toyota Camry each year for midsize supremacy, so it's not surprising that they duke it out over this honor as well. With a standard an 8-inch LCD display for its information, communication and app-based entertainment system, a single angle backup camera, dual zone climate control, a lane-drift detector, a power moon roof and alloy wheels, the Accord has fully embraced the perk-laden wonder of the midsize category. It doesn't pay to be strictly utilitarian anymore: you need options like a three-angle backup cam, enhanced safety sensors, LED running lights and adaptive cruise control to make your snoozer sedan appealing to buyers who'd just as soon ditch you for an SUV. That combined 32 miles per gallon helps drivers make peace with that decision, which regularly makes the Accord one of the Top 5 vehicles in the country based on sales.
Starting price: $27,300
Five-year cost to own: $46,199
Once the faceless fleet vehicle of choice, the Impala has received some surprising upgrades in recent years. An 8-inch MyLink color entertainment and information display, active noise cancellation on all four cylinders of its standard engine, keyless entry, OnStar emergency communications, Bluetooth, satellite and HD radio, USB/iPod connectivity and in-car Wi-Fi are all standard. Even the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine gets roughly 200 horsepower, though an available 3.6-liter V6 kicks that up to 305. With a ton of legroom and 19 cubic feet of space in the trunk, the Impala is about as comfortable as a car this size should be.
Starting price: $21,065
Five-year cost to own: $40,211
Take a long look at this compact luxury vehicle, because you won't see it again unless you move to China and determine you need one. Buick has killed off the Verano in the U.S. market, and these "2017" models are just 2016s they're trying to unload. That said, the interior of this compact is incredibly peaceful. Even in the base model it gets cruise control, a remote engine start (automatic transmission only), dual-zone automatic climate control, a 7-inch touchscreen display, Buick's IntelliLink electronics interface (which includes voice control and smartphone radio app integration), a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, OnStar telematics, and satellite radio. Any upgrade will get you heated front seats, but the six-way power driver's seat, heated steering wheel and leather upholstery are found in separate options packages. The combined 25 miles per gallon aren't great, but mileage isn't the reason anyone buys this car.
Starting price: $46,310
Five-year cost to own: $62,601
This is no spruced-up Camry. A sporty 306- to 336-horsepower hybrid with paddle shifters and a tachometer still appeals to the tuners, but the toys set this apart. A giant 12.3-inch display for navigation, audio and climate controls to voice command, a 17-speaker sound system, Bluetooth connectivity and the Lexus Enform information and entertainment app system are some impressive, standard distractions. However, comforts including heated and ventilated seats, 18-way power front seats, rear-seat audio and climate controls, a driver attention monitor that makes sure you aren't drifting and all-wheel drive that keeps you steady on slick roads are particularly cushy -- especially in the 450h hybrid version.
Starting price: $72,520
Five-year cost to own: $85,785
With a starting price of more than $70,000, a curb weight of more than 4,000 pounds and a paltry 20 miles per gallon combined, there had to be something that made it a value at this price. The 386-horsepower, 4.6-liter V8 engine, rear wheel drive, 5.4-second 0-to-60, performance driving mode, reclining passenger seat with footrest, available all-wheel drive, available long wheelbase, four-zone automatic climate control, 12.3-inch multimedia display and surround-sound speakers are what give the LS some of its worth. The Toyota reliability underneath all of it helps keep down that cost to own.
Starting price: $26,255
Five-year cost to own: $39,489
This is the same car as a Subaru BRZ, save for a few superficial differences. Jointly developed by both Toyota and Subaru and manufactured solely by Subaru, BRZ and and the Toyota 86 have had an interesting year or so. The Toyota 86 was initially sold here as the Scion FR-S, with the Toyota 86 name reserved for the Japanese version of the car. When the Scion brand was discontinued last year, the Toyota 86 name was imported to the U.S. and slapped on this tuner favorite. The differences between the BRZ and Toyota 86 come down to paint, body configurations and other trinkets, but that rear-wheel-drive and 2.0-liter 200-horsepower boxer engine are what keep knowledgeable performance car enthusiasts coming back for more. No, it isn't going to blow anyone off the line without some tweaks, but it handles incredibly well in the turns and sounds loud and proud when you're redlining your way through the gearbox.
Starting price: $24,685
Five-year cost to own: $36,366
The original Prius still has the one thing everyone wants out of its brand -- incredible mileage -- but it's all of the Prius' perks that keep buyers coming back even as the efficient car market gets increasingly crowded.
The latest incarnation of the Prius gets a combined 56 miles per gallon in the Eco model (including 58 in the city), 52 in the base, tighter suspension, a mean new look and upgraded tech including parking assistance and new LED. A relatively cavernous 24.6 cubic feet of cargo space that turns into more than 40 cubic feet with the seats down, a heads-up information display on the windshield, multimedia system with app suite and heated seats make the Prius the eco-friendly status symbol of choice.
Starting price: $27,100
Five-year cost to own: $36,745
Don't pay its combined 54 mpg any mind. This vehicle has a 25-mile range in electric mode alone and gets 133 miles per gallon equivalent out of its fuel and electric mileage. Loaded with remote air conditioning, heated steering wheel, heated front seats, backup camera, power and USB outlets, Entune audio and navigation, a 7-inch high-resolution touch-screen with split-screen display, Siri Eyes Free advanced voice recognition, SiriusXM Satellite Radio and nearly 20 cubic feet of trunk space, the Prime is as great as the Prius line gets and as close to an electric vehicle as a hybrid may ever be.
Starting price: $19,465
Five-year cost to own: $33,722
The CR-V's little sibling is the cozy little form factor everyone hoped it would be. It has 58.8 cubic feet of cargo room with the seats down (not including the front passenger's seat, which folds down for longer items), LED brake lights, heated side mirrors, the HondaLink app suite, a 7-inch touchscreen entertainment and communications center, voice texting, wheel-mounted controls, multi-angle rearview camera and options including a power moonroof, heated seats and automatic climate control. It isn't the biggest wagon out there, but it's a nice middle ground between the CR-V and the subcompact Fit and has a thrifty 31.5 combined miles per gallon that still clocks in at 29 mpg in all-wheel drive.
Starting price: $21,695
Five-year cost to own: $34,957
This mini-crossover is a throwback to the Subaru Outback's earliest days as a wagon, but with 40 inches of driver headroom, the 43 inches of legroom and combined 52 cubic feet of cargo space with the seats down. The standard multi-function display, Starlink touchscreen communications and entertainment package and rearview camera are all fine perks for Subaru's smallest crossover, but it's the nearly 30 miles per gallon combined that set it apart from its fellow all-wheel-drive Subaru SUVs.
Starting price: $27,895
Five-year cost to own: $39,882
Its canvas top is just plain loud, its combined 19 miles per gallon and aren't exactly efficient and the only benefit to the Unlimited version is the added cargo space, which gets as big as 31.5 cubic feet, depending on the configuration. However, that iconic look and off-road performance don't have an acceptable understudy.
The ground clearance and four-wheel drive come in awfully handy in miserable winter weather, while that removable hardtop makes it a sweet open-air ride in the summer. Carbuyers don't pick up a stretched-out version of the Wrangler, because they want to truck the kids around or make grocery runs. They buy it, because they want a "Jeep" and all the adventure it promises.
Starting price: $47,215
Five-year cost to own: $61,245
Families really don't care how much Wi-Fi you put into a car this large or how efficient it is. They don't care that you can fit nine people in it and that stability features make it far safer than the trucked-up SUVs of yore. Even if they have a camper or a boat, that towing capacity can now be found in cheaper, more efficient cars. That said, the spike in sales of large SUVs like this one since last year shows that families care about the total package. If this apartment on wheels can do it all, they're going to take it.
Starting price: $63,850
Five-year cost to own: $72,103
It's big and it is ugly. We're not going to mask that fact: The bulbous body and oversized grill make this one of the single ugliest SUVs we've seen on the market. Throughout its lifetime, it's been renamed from the QX4 and QX56, seemingly just to hide from its own hideousness. It fits in the same category as behemoths like the Cadillac Escalade, Lincoln Navigator and Lexus LX and has a 400-horsepower V8 engine under its atrocious frame to prove it can hang. With gas prices dipping below $2 in some parts of the U.S. last year, it saw sales improve 7.2% from last year. Still, its sales are fewer than half hat of those the midsize QX60 (which also made Kelley Blue Book's cost-to-own list) and rank third among all Infiniti SUVs. With a face only an automaker could love, the QX80 needs a low five-year cost of ownership if only to reward the poor, half-blind soul who buys it.
Starting price: $20,055
Five-year cost to own: $37,029
In its original incarnation, the Colorado was an Isuzu in General Motors clothing. Jointly designed by the two automakers, the Colorado is still sold as the Isuzu D-Max abroad and once sold as many as 163,000 vehicles in the U.S. before the recession.
However, after Ford dropped its Ranger line of small pickups a few years ago, General Motors began to rethink the Colorado and gave it a more fuel-efficient engine with a combined 21 miles per gallon. It also made the Colorado look a bit more like GMC's Sierra just for the sake of continuity. Assembled in Wentzville, Mo., it's definitely aimed at the U.S. truck buyer who long ago switched to smaller trucks from Japanese automakers.
Starting price: $27,585
Five-year cost to own: $42,406
This and the GMC Sierra are pretty much the same vehicle, but both got an upgrade in 2014 after not getting one one since 2006.
Adding updates like Chevy's MyLink audio system with color screen, USB ports and an audio jack on top of features including Bluetooth connectivity, OnStar telematics and SiriusXM satellite radio bring the cab up to date, as does the mobile Wi-Fi hotspot in the GMC. However, the four-wheel drive is typically built into these trucks to help with payload and towing capacities, though it comes in mighty handy if you're navigating a front-heavy pickup through less-than-optimal conditions.
Amazingly, Dodge sold as many as 250,000 Grand Caravans as recently as 2002. While the 134,000 it sold in 2014 is nowhere near that mark, rebranding this minivan as a tailgater's dream has definitely helped sales recover from 91,000 in 2009.
Dodge's latest take on the classic minivan includes more than 83 cubic feet of cargo space with the third-row seats down, a whopping 143.8 cubic feet with the third and second-row seats down, a flip-back option for that third row that turns it into a lot-facing couch, a Blu Ray/DVD system with second and third-row screens for pre-game entertainment, and USB and aux ports for hooking up both audio and computers. Best of all, the Caravan's available Wi-Fi option not only allows folks with Sunday Ticket to stream other games through laptops, tablets and smartphones, but it makes the minivan a mobile hotspot with a 150-foot radius for all your friends following their fantasy team more closely than the teams they're paying to see.
Its combined 21 miles per gallon aren't great, that 3.6-liter engine generates 283 horsepower for towing a boat, quads, a giant smoker or many other things that aren't necessarily kid-related -- though we're sure the kids will love the two-screen Blu-ray and DVD entertainment system that also lets passengers plug in game consoles.