Just because the sticker price on a car is low, doesn’t mean that car is automatically a good deal.
Remember, that’s simply the price you pay to own the car.
It does not take anything else into account – cost of repairs, average fuel cost, average insurance premiums, and so on and so forth.
When you’re looking for a cheap, economic vehicle, you need to look at the entire picture. Cost alone means little. Cost-to-own means everything.
Recently, Consumer Reports came out with a comprehensive analysis of the most and least expensive cars to own over a five-year period.
Very likely, none of you need nor want an expensive car, so let’s just focus on the cheap.
Here are five cars of varying sizes that, according to Consumer Reports, you can operate for five years for under $35,000.
Toyota Prius C Two ($24,600, Subcompact)
The smaller a car is, the cheaper it’s bound to be, and the Toyota Prius C Two is no exception.
A subcompact hatchback, the Prius C Two is not the best car for comfort or looks (it can get rather cramped in there, plus the engine is a tad noisy), but if your goal is to have something cheap to get you from here to there, this is perfect.
It’s reliable, gets 43 MPG, and won’t require frequent trips to the mechanic.
Toyota Prius Four ($28,200, Compact)
For just a few thousand dollars more, you could ride with a Prius Four, which is a much better ride than the C Two – roomier, more comfortable, quieter, and it just might have better MPG as well.
Going to the highway could net you upwards of 55 MPG, and if you get the hybrid model, electricity could boost that number to an absurd 67 MPG.
Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE ($31,800, Midsized Sedan)
Now we’re getting bigger, and therefore more expensive. However, $31,800 over five years is still not at all a bad deal.
The price tag goes up mainly due to a lower MPG (26-38 MPG) depending on what kind of engine you get, along with slightly less reliability than before.
But we’re still not even close to Jalopyville here, thank goodness.
Subaru XV Crosstrek Premium ($34,200, Small SUV)
Yes, even an SUV can cost very little to operate, despite all you’ve heard.
For just over $34,000 in a five-year span, you could be driving a Subaru.
It’s not the comfiest ride ever, and you might be sending this one to the repair shop a tad more often than you’d like after the first year, but there’s nothing too major to worry about here.
Besides, for an SUV, getting 26 MPG is a small miracle.
Honda Civic Si Manual ($34,800, Sporty)
Finally, we have a sporty car that just slips under the $35,000 barrier that separates the bargains from the ripoffs.
The Honda Civic Si Manual is, quite obviously, a manual vehicle, which helps drive down the cost to own automatically.
In addition, this car actually boasts better gas mileage than the last couple of cars on this list, at a cool 29 MPG.
Still, a bigger car means bigger sticker price, and the Civic Si is no exception. But if you’re in the market for a good, economic sporty car, this might be the perfect one for you.