2016 Honda Fit on road ・ Photo by Honda
Sometimes you need (or want) a car that costs as little as possible, but the upfront cost isn’t the only aspect to consider. Insurance and fuel costs, as well as depreciation, are also factors, and we’ve taken them all into consideration to create a list of 10 cars with the lowest cost of ownership. We’ve based our numbers on someone who plans on selling their car after they’ve driven it for three years and 45,000 miles, and we assume they’ve kept their car in good condition. Insurance estimates come from Insure.com, fuel costs come from FuelEconomy.gov and depreciation rates come from research at various automotive classified sites and Kelley Blue Book.
Depreciation: $8,596 (58.3%) Insurance: $4,161 ($1,387/year) Fuel: $3,600 ($1,200/year)
The Hyundai Accent takes last place on our list of 10 cars with the lowest cost of ownership largely thanks to its low price. Of the cars on our list, the Accent costs slightly above average in the insurance and gasoline departments, and has a relatively high rate of depreciation. The Accent is a budget car, with few features and some low quality materials, but it is fairly roomy, decently peppy, and reasonably comfortable, and features predictable handling. You could easily do worse for the money, even compared to other cars on our list.
Photo by Hyundai
Depreciation: $8,528 (50.2%) Insurance: $4,353 ($1,451/year) Fuel: $3,450 ($1,150/year)
The Nissan Sentra only managed ninth place on our list of 10 cars with the lowest cost of ownership, mostly due to its high insurance premiums (the highest on our list); in the other categories, the Sentra is just about in the middle of the road. Unfortunately, it isn’t much better inside, with cheap-looking and feeling (and sounding) materials, and uncomfortable seats, which combine with a poor ride and nervous handling to make this a car best avoided, even if it is a bargain.
Photo by Nissan
Depreciation: $8,839 (47.2%) Insurance: $4,152 ($1,384/year) Fuel: $3,300 ($1,100/year)
Despite having the highest suggested retail price on our list of the 10 cars with the lowest cost of ownership, the Honda Civic has one of the best rates of depreciation, meaning that you recoup some of that extra cost when it comes time to sell. The Civic is also relatively frugal considering its size, and about average to insure. It’s comfortable, roomy, fun to drive (even with the CVT), and fairly quick (especially with the turbocharged engine), which should tick all the boxes of those looking for a budget-friendly small car.
Photo by Honda
Depreciation: $9,020 (59.1%) Insurance: $3,960 ($1,320/year) Fuel: $3,300 ($1,100/year)
The Toyota Yaris doesn’t do well when it comes to depreciation, with one of the highest rates on our list of the 10 cars with the lowest cost of ownership, but it does have a lower than average price, and below average fuel and insurance costs. The Yaris is let down by its anemic engine and 4-speed automatic transmission (the 5-speed manual is better). Its interior is nicer than some of its competitors, but if you really want a budget-friendly Toyota, consider the much better Yaris iA, which just narrowly missed making our list.
Photo by Toyota
Depreciation: $8,544 (47.9%) Insurance: $4,158 ($1,386/year) Fuel: $3,450 ($1,150/year)
The Mazda3 might have just slightly above average insurance costs, average fuel costs and an above average MSRP, but that’s offset by a low depreciation rate that helps it earn the sixth spot on our list of cars with the lowest cost of ownership. The Mazda3 also manages to pull off the perfect blend of comfort, handling, and economy in a way that only Mazda seems to be able to (at least for the price). If you’re looking for big fun on a small budget, the Mazda3 is worth a look.
Photo by Mazda
Depreciation: $8,380 (59.2%) Insurance: $4,098 ($1,366/year) Fuel: $3,600 ($1,200/year)
The Kia Rio has above average fuel costs and the highest rate of depreciation on our list (and since a new model should be going on sale soon, it might get even worse), but still manages a respectable spot on our list of cars with the lowest cost of ownership, thanks to a low asking price and average insurance premiums. There’s not much exceptional about the Rio except for the 10-year/100,000-mile warranty that might come in handy if you plan on keeping the car for an extended period of time.
Photo by Kia
Depreciation: $7,923 (43.1%) Insurance: $4,263 ($1,421/year) Fuel: $3,450 ($1,150/year)
If you are on a budget and need an all-wheel drive car, the Subaru Impreza is just about your only choice, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The Impreza is affordable, has the lowest depreciation rate on our list of vehicles with the lowest ownership costs, and despite the added weight of its all-wheel drive system, has average fuel costs. Unlike its WRX sibling, the Impreza isn’t particularly sporty, but it is secure and power never feels lacking in everyday driving.
Photo by Subaru
Depreciation: $7,411 (46.0%) Insurance: $3,837 ($1,279/year) Fuel: $4,050 ($1,350/year)
The Kia Soul has a low depreciation rate and one of the lowest insurance rates, which helps it earn the third spot on our list despite having the highest fuel cost. That said, it is easy to significantly increase the price of the Soul by adding options, and it might be hard to recoup that extra money three years down the road. The interior uses nice materials, and the Soul is practical and comfortable, with lots of headroom and plenty of cargo space.
Photo by Kia
Depreciation: $8,396 (52.2%) Insurance: $3,765 ($1,255/year) Fuel: $3,000 ($1,000/year)
The Honda Fit is an excellent car that makes our list of cars with the lowest ownership costs thanks to a combination of an affordable price, below average insurance, and fuel costs, and an average rate of depreciation. The interior of the Fit is incredibly roomy, even in the rear, and the materials are better than you’d expect for the money. The engine is strong yet economical (the most frugal on our list), and the ride is comfortable. This might be the car we’d look at first.
Photo by Honda
Depreciation: $7,060 (58.9%) Insurance: $4,089 ($1,363/year) Fuel: $3,300 ($1,100/year)
The only reason the Nissan Versa makes the top of our list of 10 cars with the lowest cost of ownership (the only car to break the $5,000/year barrier) is due to its extremely low asking price, which is the lowest on our list by far. You get what you pay for with the Versa, which means not much; the interior is full of hard and cheap-looking plastic, the engine is barely adequate, and accoutrements are few and far between, all of which helps explain its high depreciation.
Photo by Nissan