Joe asks Jody Victor®: 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. 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. I asked Jody Victor® to tell us more about it from an article by Jessica Anderson of Kiplinger and msn.com.

Jody Victor®: All the vehicles on the 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). Sticker price isn’t the only cost associated with owning a car. Here are the least expensive rides over a five year period in a two parts.

Nissan Versa S 4dr

5-Year fuel cost: $9,048
5-Year insurance cost: $5,134
Total 5-Year ownership cost: $27,135

The Nissan Versa gets a redesign for 2012, and the added amenities bump the bargain-basement feel out of the base model — without a big boost in price. An AM/FM/CD stereo with auxiliary input is now standard (only audio wiring was included in 2011), as is air conditioning. The Versa gets better mileage, too (27 miles per gallon city, 36 highway). An automatic transmission costs $2,130 extra. It’s also been chosen as a Top Saftey Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) for 2012.

Hyundai Accent GLS 4dr

5-Year fuel cost: $8,143
5-Year insurance cost: $5,145
Total 5-Year ownership cost: $27,895

Riding a strong wave of redesigns, Hyundai has given the all-new Accent styling cues from the Sonata and Elantra. The Accent exhibits the brand’s commitment to quality, even at the lower end of the price spectrum. A six-speed manual transmission and direct-injection technology help it get 30 mpg in the city and 40 on the highway. One caveat: The base model doesn’t come equipped with a radio or air conditioning, and adding those costs $1,750 more. An automatic transmission costs $2,750 extra.

Ford Fiesta S 4dr

5-Year fuel cost: $8,568
5-Year insurance cost: $5,623
Total 5-Year ownership cost: $28,524

Introduced last year, Ford’s Fiesta adds a dollop of style to the sensible subcompact class. Dramatically raked headlamps and sharp creasing along the side give the Fiesta an aggressive look. Inside, the cockpit is sporty yet functional. On its menu of safety features is a driver’s knee airbag, and it’s been named an IIHS Top Safety Pick. It gets 28 mpg in the city and 38 on the highway. An automatic transmission is $1,095 extra.

Toyota Yaris L 2dr hatch

5-Year fuel cost: $8,306
5-Year insurance cost: $5,451
Total 5-Year ownership cost: $29,153

The Yaris sports a whopping nine airbags, including a driver’s knee airbag and dual front seat-cushion airbags, which inflate under your knees and thighs to hold you in your seat during an accident. A USB input with iPod connectivity comes standard, so you can control music choices through the screen in the dashboard. It’s fuel-efficient, too — 30 mpg city, 38 highway. An automatic transmission costs $725.

Kia Soul 4dr hatch

5-Year fuel cost: $9,146
5-Year insurance cost: $4,402
Total 5-Year ownership cost: $29,190

The Kia Soul makes boxy cool again. Along with its funky looks, it has 19 cubic feet of cargo space, a USB input and Sirius satellite radio standard (a subscription costs extra after three months of free service). It gets 27 miles per gallon in the city and 35 on the highway, and it’s an IIHS Top Safety Pick. An automatic transmission is $1,800 extra.

Thanks, Jody! More next time.

Joe Victor