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--- news (6/4/2012)
 
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, and even the opportunity cost of the money you lay out as a down payment (what you'd make if you invested the money elsewhere) are all important ingredients in the cost of ownership.

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 -- since premiums tend to rise with horsepower.

Note that with the lower-price class, you may also have to pay extra for automatic transmission, air conditioning and sometimes even a radio-not to mention such safety features as anti-lock brakes. Most are equipped with six standard airbags but only half have standard stability control. (The market price is the average transaction cost and reflects rebates, all vehicles have manual transmissions, unless otherwise noted. Source: Vincentric.)


Nissan Versa 1.6 Base 4dr
Market price: $10,922
5-Year fuel cost: $8,456
5-Year insurance cost: $4,851
Total 5-Year ownership cost: $26,233
Nissan's subcompact hatch, which gets 26 miles per gallon in the city and 34 mpg on the highway, hits the streets at a smidge over ten grand but offers a bigger interior than classmates Toyota Yaris and Honda Fit. Six airbags are standard on even the lowest trim, but you'll pay $250 extra for ABS.

Depreciation: $6,874 Fees & taxes: $905 Financing 5-year loan at 5.95%: $1,371 Opportunity cost of a 15% down payment: $452 Maintenance: $1,917 Repairs: $1,406


Hyundai Accent GL 2dr hatch
Market price: $9,677
5-Year fuel cost: $8,085
5-Year insurance cost: $5,134
Total 5-Year ownership cost: $26,715
For under $11,000, the Accent boasts killer fuel economy of 34 mpg on the highway and 28 in the city. Even on the base model, optional equipment includes an iPod hookup ($35) and Bluetooth ($325). Six airbags are standard, but there’s no option for ABS.

Depreciation: $7,748 Fees & taxes: $822 Financing 5-year loan at 5.95%: $1,207 Opportunity cost of a 15% down payment: $423 Maintenance: $1,795 Repairs: $1,500


Chevrolet Aveo5 LS 4dr hatch
Market price: $11,038
5-Year fuel cost: $8,171
5-Year insurance cost: $5,446
Total 5-Year ownership cost: $26,958
Chevy’s smallest car will be replaced next year by the Sonic, but for 2011 the little hatchback offers good interior space and cargo room -- 15 cubic feet with the 60/40 split rear seat up. Maintenance and repairs average just $3,000 for five years. Side airbags and six months of OnStar Automatic Crash Response are standard, but ABS and side-curtain airbags are not available. Mileage is 27 city, 35 highway.

Depreciation: $7,547 Fees & taxes: $919 Financing 5-year loan at 5.95%: $1,385 Opportunity cost of a 15% down payment: $451 Maintenance: $1,618 Repairs: $1,422


Ford Fiesta S 4dr
Market price: $13,212
5-Year fuel cost: $7,576
5-Year insurance cost: $5,623
Total 5-Year ownership cost: $28,402
The return of the Fiesta to Ford’s lineup brings serious value -- and premium-car amenities -- to the compact category. A wallet-friendly price meets a peppy engine, an ultra-smooth manual transmission, and terrific handling. The SE trim offers Ford’s SYNC system (to connect phones and music players) as a $665 option. Even the entry-level Fiesta boasts a full complement of safety equipment: seven airbags (including a driver’s knee airbag), ABS, stability control and traction control. Mileage is 28 city, 37 highway.

Depreciation: $8,919 Fees & taxes: $1,063 Financing 5-year loan at 5.95%: $1,690 Opportunity cost of a 15% down payment: $467 Maintenance: $1,564 Repairs: $1,500


Mazda2 Sport 4dr hatch
Market price: $14,625
5-Year fuel cost: $7,825
5-Year insurance cost: $5,630
Total 5-Year ownership cost: $28,593
Its design is unmistakably Mazda, but the Mazda2 isn’t just a downsized Mazda3. Built on the same platform as the Ford Fiesta, this sporty hatch takes corners with ease, and it has a full line of standard safety equipment-- ABS, stability and traction control, and six airbags. Mileage is 29 city, 35 highway.

Depreciation: $8,405 Fees & taxes: $1,139 Financing 5-year loan at 5.95%: $1,864 Opportunity cost of a 15% down payment: $490 Maintenance: $1,613 Repairs: $1,627


Toyota Yaris 4dr
Market price: $13,818
5-Year fuel cost: $7,737
5-Year insurance cost: $5,163
Total 5-Year ownership cost: $28,616
The Yaris’s 1.5-liter, direct-injection four-cylinder engine pushes fuel economy to the max. The car gets 29 mpg in the city and 36 on the highway, giving it ultra-low fuel costs over five years compared with the competition. Good resale values give the car a leg up in our cost calculations. ABS and stability control are standard, as are six airbags.

Depreciation: $9,377 Fees & taxes: $1,089 Financing 5-year loan at 5.95%: $1,757 Opportunity cost of a 15% down payment: $463 Maintenance: $1,623 Repairs: $1,406


Kia Rio 4dr
Market price: $11,824
5-Year fuel cost: $8,085
5-Year insurance cost: $5,447
Total 5-Year ownership cost: $29,157
Kia keeps even low-budget customers happy by offering many standard goodies -- auxiliary connections and USB ports for music, plus Sirius satellite radio (a subscription costs extra). Six airbags are standard on the base trim, stepping up to the LX ($15,690) gets you standard ABS. Mileage is 28 city, 34 highway.

Depreciation: $9,158 Fees & taxes: $966 Financing 5-year loan at 5.95%: $1,500 Opportunity cost of a 15% down payment: $458 Maintenance: $2,042 Repairs: $1,500


Kia Soul 4dr hatch
Market price: $13,826
5-Year fuel cost: $8,771
5-Year insurance cost: $4,402
Total 5-Year ownership cost: $29,275
Kiplinger’s Best New Car for Teens makes boxy cool again. Along with its funky looks, the Soul has 19 cubic feet of cargo space and the most rear legroom in its class. It’s also an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick. All the safety equipment you’ll want is standard: six airbags, ABS, stability control and traction control. Mileage is 26 city, 31 highway.

Depreciation: $9,305 Fees & taxes: $1,381 Financing 5-year loan at 5.95%: $2,338 Opportunity cost of a 15% down payment: $487 Maintenance: $1,956 Repairs: $1,500


Honda Insight 4dr hatch
Market price: $18,097
5-Year fuel cost: $5,955
5-Year insurance cost: $5,497
Total 5-Year ownership cost: $29,953
Proving that hybrids don’t have to break the bank, Honda’s Insight boasts estimated service costs (maintenance plus repairs) of just $3,149 for five years. Low fuel costs are a given, with 40 miles per gallon in the city and 43 on the highway. Automatic transmission, ABS, stability control, traction control and six airbags are standard.

Depreciation: $11,145 Fees & taxes: $1,381 Financing 5-year loan at 5.95%: $2,338 Opportunity cost of a 15% down payment: $487 Maintenance: $1,727 Repairs: $1,422


Ford Focus S 4dr
Market price: $13,643
5-Year fuel cost: $8,571
5-Year insurance cost: $5,484
Total 5-Year ownership cost: $30,290
The Focus will get a redesign for 2012, but the 2011 version is already a solid value. The 2.0-liter engine puts out 140 horsepower but sips fuel politely -- it gets 25 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. Stability and traction control, ABS, and six airbags are standard.


 
 
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