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Jewish World Review
Cheapest cars to own over time
In addition to price, car buyers should also factor in the cost of fuel, insurance and repairs when determining which vehicle will cost them the least
Most car buyers fixate on price without bothering to calculate other long-term ownership costs. But comparing what you'll likely pay for fuel, insurance and repairs over the time you own a vehicle makes you a much smarter shopper -- and could save you thousands of dollars.
We asked Vincentric, an automotive data firm, for a list of vehicles with the lowest five-year ownership costs. Comparing those autos with ones that did well in Kiplinger's annual rankings -- in which we reward performance, value and safety -- we found the best bang for the buck in four categories.
-- Compacts. Nissan's base Versa (sticker price: $11,770), with five-year ownership costs tallying $27,135, tops the cheap list. It has a full complement of safety features and gets 27 miles per gallon in the city and 36 on the highway. But horsepower is a paltry 109, the interior is swathed in hard plastic, and the seats are uncomfortably stiff.
We think the Ford Focus S is a better choice. It has a higher sticker price ($17,295), but the total five-year cost, at $31,553, is close. Better yet, the Ford features a zippy 2.0-liter engine that puts out 160 horsepower and gets 26 mpg city and 36 highway.
-- Family sedans. The base-level Toyota Camry ($22,715) has the lowest five-year ownership costs in its class: $34,237. The entire Camry lineup was redesigned for 2012, and the Hybrid LE ($26,660) won Best New Car in our annual rankings (its five-year costs run $35,257).
If your tastes run toward European driving dynamics, consider the Volkswagen Passat S ($20,765). It's clean-cut inside and out and matches the Camry's safety awards. Five-year costs: $36,063.
-- Luxury cars. The Audi A3 2.0T TDI ($31,125) has the lowest ownership costs -- $43,138 -- of any luxury ride, despite the price premium for the diesel engine. That's thanks mostly to the TDI's 30 mpg in the city and 42 on the highway.
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If a German hatchback isn't your style, check out the Acura TSX ($30,695). Its four-cylinder engine is powerful but thrifty; it produces 201 horses and gets 22 mpg in the city and 31 on the highway. A moonroof is standard, as are heated leather seats. Five-year ownership costs total $45,575.
-- Midsize/large crossovers. If you're looking for an inexpensive vehicle for hauling kids and groceries, the Dodge Journey SE ($19,895) is it: Five-year ownership costs are $37,523. Handling is spot-on for a vehicle of its size. Legroom and cargo space are cramped, however, and power is on the tepid side.
For tried-and-true value, our pick is the Honda Pilot LX ($29,280). Its resale values are high, and it offers generous passenger and cargo space. Five-year ownership costs total $44,396.
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Jessica Anderson is an associate editor at Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine.
All contents copyright 2013 Kiplinger's Personal Finance Distributed by Tribune Media Services. All rights reserved.