10 Cheapest Cars to Own

The price you negotiate for a car and the interest you pay on the car loan are only part of the cost equation.

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The price you negotiate for a car and the interest you pay on the car loan are only part of the cost equation. Insurance, depreciation, taxes and fees, what you pay over the years for fuel, service and repairs are all important ingredients in the cost of ownership. Even the opportunity cost of your out-of-pocket costs (what you’d make if you invested the money elsewhere), is part of the overall tally.

All the vehicles on our list are small -- either compacts or subcompacts -- because they tend to have the lowest market price, the best fuel economy and reasonable insurance rates (premiums tend to rise with horsepower).

With lower-price cars, you may have to pay extra for an automatic transmission (all of the vehicles listed here have manual transmissions, unless otherwise noted), air conditioning and sometimes even a radio. But thanks to federal mandates that went into effect for the 2012 model year, stability control is now standard for all vehicles. All of these cars have at least six airbags, anti-lock brakes and traction control.

The market price is the average transaction cost and reflects rebates. Fuel costs are based on $3.36 a gallon for regular gasoline and 15,000 miles a year of mixed city and highway driving. The ownership cost assumes you are paying 4.04% interest on a five-year loan but that you can recoup the cost of the car, minus depreciation, when you sell the vehicle after five years.


Data provided by .

Jessica L. Anderson
Associate Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance
Anderson has been with Kiplinger since January 2004, when she joined the staff as a reporter. Since then, she's covered the gamut of personal finance issues—from mortgages and credit to spending wisely—and she heads up Kiplinger's annual automotive rankings. She holds a BA in journalism and mass communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She was the 2012 president of the Washington Automotive Press Association and serves on its board of directors. In 2014, she was selected for the North American Car and Truck Of the Year jury. The awards, presented at the Detroit Auto Show, have come to be regarded as the most prestigious of their kind in the U.S. because they involve no commercial tie-ins. The jury is composed of nationally recognized journalists from across the U.S. and Canada, who are selected on the basis of audience reach, experience, expertise, product knowledge, and reputation in the automotive community.