Cheapest Cars to Own
When it’s time to buy a new car, many consumers base their final decision on price alone — or that and the vehicle’s color. Unfortunately, this shortsighted approach leaves folks vulnerable to the many costs associated with owning a car beyond the purchase price, such as depreciation, insurance, maintenance and fuel costs. These additional expenditures can vary greatly depending on the vehicle purchased. Kelley Blue Book has done extensive analysis to determine which vehicles are the least expensive to own over a five-year period, considering factors such as financing, insurance, state fees, fuel costs, scheduled maintenance and repairs, and depreciation of the vehicle.
Subaru, Acura Top Brands
“Our 5-Year Cost to Own information breaks down typical ownership costs to help shoppers evaluate the impactful out-of-pocket expenses they will incur over time beyond the initial price paid,” said Eric Ibara, director of 5-Year Cost to Own for Kelley Blue Book. “Subaru claims the top brand position for the second year in a row, right on the heels of winning a Kelley Blue Book award for Best Resale Value Brand of 2020,” Ibara noted. “Accordingly, Subaru’s key advantage in claiming the top brand ownership cost award is its high residual value, which lowers depreciation costs. In addition, Acura claims the top luxury brand prize with several key models in its lineup, performing well above the segment average in many vehicle ownership cost categories,” Ibara concluded. What follows are 2020 model-year vehicles that KBB says will be the cheapest cars to own, listed by category.
Compact Car — 2020 Hyundai Elantra
5-Year Cost to Own: $31,056
Hyundai gave its best-selling Elantra a complete styling update last year that included a new hood, front fascia, grille and headlights. For 2020 Hyundai adds more standard equipment; however, the base price remains below $20,000. The least expensive SE comes well equipped with dual-zone climate control, a rearview camera, projector headlights, Bluetooth connectivity, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, a 5.0-inch touchscreen display, forward collision avoidance, lane-keeping assist and driver attention warning. Also standard is Hyundai’s new Intelligent Variable Transmission, which replaces the 6-speed automatic and 6-speed manual.
Midsize Car — 2020 Honda Accord
5-Year Cost to Own: $35,185
One of the best-selling midsize sedans in America, the Accord also wins in KBB’s eyes as the midsize car with the lowest ownership costs over the first five years — for the second year in a row. Available in a variety of trim levels as a 2-door or 4-door, Accord can even be equipped with a manual transmission — a rarity in the midsize sedan segment. Completely redesigned a few years back, the Accord is built on a lighter, more rigid body structure designed to improve handling and comfort. Honda offers this popular sedan with a number of power options that include two new turbocharged engines and a new generation of Honda’s 2-motor hybrid system.
Full-Size Car — 2020 Chevrolet Impala
5-Year Cost to Own: $49,006
One of the few full-size sedans still available on the U. S. market, the Impala has earned recognition as one of the cheapest cars to own for a remarkable nine years in a row. Impala is available with the latest high-tech features that include active noise cancellation, 4G LTE wireless connectivity, adaptive cruise control, forward collision alert, a rearview camera, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Power comes from either a standard 196-horsepower 2.5-liter engine with start/stop technology, or a 305-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 as standard equipment on the top-level Premier trim.
Sports Car — 2020 Fiat 124 Spider
5-Year Cost to Own: $40,558
The Fiat 124 Spider hit U.S. shores in 2017, returning after a 30-year absence from the U.S. market. The result of a collaboration between Fiat and Mazda, the Fiat 124 Spider is based on the Mazda MX-5 Miata, but with Italian styling and a Fiat drivetrain, suspension and tuning. Designed in Turin, Italy, the sporty Fiat features styling cues taken from the original 124 Spider, including a hexagonal upper grille, power domes on the hood and sharp horizontal taillights. The rear-drive 124 Spider gets power from Fiat’s 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo 4-cylinder engine that produces 160 horsepower (164 in Abarth) and 184 lb-ft of torque, teamed with either a 6-speed manual transmission or a 6-speed automatic. The convertible top is manually operated — easily put up or taken down from the driver’s seat. This is the second consecutive year that the 124 Spider has been on this list of cheapest cars to own.
Entry-Level Luxury Car — 2020 Acura ILX
5-Year Cost to Own: $40,146
The lowest priced model offered by Acura, the ILX received a major redesign for the 2019 model year. Sporting a new Acura signature Diamond Pentagon grille with 7-element jewel-eye LED headlights, the ILX looks more upscale, aligning it with the rest of the Acura lineup. The luxury treatment continues inside where the ILX also features a dual-screen interface as well as integration of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. All versions of the ILX are powered by a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine teamed with an 8-speed dual-clutch gearbox.
Luxury Car — 2020 Volvo V90
5-Year Cost to Own: $62,116
Wagons may no longer curry favor among U.S. shoppers, but the wagon has been part of Volvo’s heritage for more than 60 years, and we have to say that with its long hood, sleek lines and wide stance, this one is a beauty. Inside, the V90 features the brand’s Sensus infotainment system that uses a large vertical high-definition display screen. The V90 can be equipped with front- or all-wheel drive, and is available as the standard wagon or as the V90 Cross Country, which features raised ground clearance and more aggressive styling.
Hybrid — 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid
5-Year Cost to Own: $30,918
The Corolla is all new for the 2020 model year, and as part of that redesign Toyota introduces its first hybrid version of this popular small car. Powered by a 1.8-liter engine teamed with an electric motor, the Corolla Hybrid is rated at an impressive 53 mpg city/ 52 mpg hwy / 52 mpg combined. With a low starting price around $23,000, the Corolla Hybrid comes well equipped with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 which includes a pre-collision system that detects pedestrians and bicyclists, as well as automatic emergency braking, lane departure alert with steering assist and full-speed range dynamic radar cruise control.
Electric Vehicle — 2020 Nissan LEAF
5-Year Cost to Own: $40,186
The LEAF was one of the first mainstream electric vehicles sold in America when introduced in 2011, and it tops this KBB category for the third year in a row. The Nissan LEAF is now available with two different powertrains: the standard setup features a 40 kWh battery with 147 horsepower and a 149 mile range, while the LEAF Plus bumps up to a 62 kWh battery enabling 214 horsepower and a range of 226 miles. Nissan has equipped all LEAFs with Safety Shield 360, which features a suite of high-tech safety features including automatic emergency braking, rear cross-traffic alert and rear automatic braking.
Subcompact SUV — 2020 Hyundai Venue
5-Year Cost to Own: $30,936
Hyundai adds to its SUV lineup for 2020 with the all-new Venue. Now Hyundai’s smallest crossover, the Venue is front-wheel-drive only, powered by a 1.6-liter engine producing 121 horsepower, teamed with a 6-speed manual transmission. The base-level Venue S has a low staring price of $17,350 yet it features air-conditioning, an 8.0-inch touchscreen display, an AM / FM / HD audio system, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Bluetooth connectivity. All Venues come with Hyundai SmartSense as a standard feature, which includes forward collision avoidance with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist and driver attention warning.
Compact SUV — 2020 Subaru Forester
5-Year Cost to Own: $35,362
The compact SUV market is extremely competitive, but the Forester can boast because not only is it one of the cheapest cars to own — KBB also calls it out for having the best resale value in its class. Subaru introduced an all-new Forester last year as the roomiest version ever offered with its 1.2-inch-longer wheelbase, more rear-seat legroom and more rear cargo capacity, as well as improvements in crash protection, comfort, quietness and driving dynamics. EyeSight driver-assist technology is standard, and Forester Touring debuted DriverFocus safety technology that can alert the driver to fatigue or potential distraction.
Midsize SUV (2-row) — 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe
5-Year Cost to Own: $40,674
Hyundai introduced an all-new Santa Fe for the 2019 model year with updated styling and a range of new features, and for 2020 the Santa Fe repeats as the midsize SUV with the lowest ownership costs. The Santa Fe replaced the Santa Fe Sport as the Korean brand’s 5-passenger offering, while a new Santa Fe XL offers three rows of seats. This fourth-generation Hyundai SUV comes with the latest high-tech safety features as standard equipment including automatic emergency braking and blind-spot collision warning, as well as lane-keeping assist and rear cross-traffic alert. Also standard is safe exit assist, which locks the rear doors to prevent rear-seat occupants from opening them into traffic when vehicles are approaching from behind.
Midsize SUV (3-row) — 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander
5-Year Cost to Own: $40,995
For the second year in a row, the 7-passenger Mitsubishi Outlander wins its category as the midsize 3-row SUV with the lowest ownership costs. The Outlander starts below $25,000 — the primary reason it is one of the cheapest cars to own — and can range up to the GT with Mitsubishi’s Super All-Wheel Control all-wheel-drive system. Two engines are available, including a 3.0-liter MIVEC V6 unit that produces 224 horsepower and 215 lb-ft of torque. Mitsubishi also offers the Outlander as a plug-in hybrid that has the same 224 horsepower but gets 22 miles of electric-only range and impressive fuel economy.
Off-Road SUV – 2020 Jeep Wrangler
5-Year Cost to Own: $39,045
If any vehicle deserves the “iconic” label, it’s the Jeep Wrangler — the modern descendant of the original U.S. military vehicle that spawned the Jeep name and began the legacy of extreme off-road capability. The current Wrangler was introduced a few years ago and offers a comfortable ride on pavement while boasting impressive off-road prowess. Offered in a range of trim levels, the Wrangler features two hardtops, a Sunrider soft-top and a Sky One-Touch power top. For even more open-air driving, the doors are removable and windshield can be folded down. Jeep now offers the Wrangler with an efficient diesel powertrain in addition to its gas-engine options.
Full-Size SUV— 2020 Chevrolet Tahoe
5-Year Cost to Own: $65,178
There aren’t many vehicles on the road that compete with the Chevrolet Tahoe. With seating for up to nine occupants, plenty of cargo capacity, the capability to tow more than 8,500 pounds, and 9 inches of ground clearance for off-road adventures, the Tahoe is one of the most capable SUVs on the road. Available with 2WD or 4WD, Tahoe can also be equipped with a suite of safety features as well as 4G LTE connectivity with a Wi-Fi hotspot, wireless phone charging, power-folding second- and third-row seats, an 8-inch color touchscreen and multiple USB ports. Look for an all-new 2021 Tahoe coming this summer.
Luxury Subcompact SUV — 2020 Lexus UX
5-Year Cost to Own: $42,617
Lexus introduced the entry-level UX for the 2019 model year as the first Lexus vehicle to use the brand’s new Global Architecture — Compact platform. The exterior design is similar to the larger NX and RX models but more aggressive, with a large spindle grille and flared fenders that dominate the front view. The UX is offered in two versions: UX 200 and UX 250h — the latter uses a new fourth-generation hybrid drive system with total system output of 181 horsepower. E-Four All-Wheel Drive adds an additional electric motor at the rear axle to give the 250h AWD capability.
Luxury Compact SUV — 2020 Lexus NX
5-Year Cost to Own: $47,881
Lexus joined the burgeoning compact luxury SUV segment when it introduced the NX for the 2015 model year. The NX was updated a few years with fresh styling including a revised grille, larger fog light openings and additional chrome accents. Toyota’s longtime luxury brand offers two powertrains for the NX: a turbocharged inline four with 235 horsepower motivates the NX300, or for a more efficient option the NX300h hybrid delivers 195 horsepower as well as an EPA rating of 31 mpg combined. For 2020 Lexus adds Android Auto to the Lexus multimedia system as well as upgraded safety features.
Luxury Midsize SUV (2-row) — 2020 Lexus RX
5-Year Cost to Own: $56,252
One of the first luxury crossovers when it debuted as a 1998 model, the RX introduced the idea of combining the utility of an SUV with the ride and comfort of a luxury sedan. As the most popular model in the Lexus lineup, the RX is available as the RX 350 or the RX 450h — the latter featuring a powerful and fuel-efficient hybrid powertrain. Lexus is adding new tech for the 2020 model year: the RX gets Android Auto connectivity to go with the already available Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa integration.
Luxury Midsize SUV (3-row) — 2020 Acura MDX
5-Year Cost to Own: $55,270
One of Acura’s best-selling models — outselling the brand’s passenger cars combined — the MDX was refreshed a few years back when it introduced the current Acura style, headlined by a stylish Diamond Pentagon grille. The MDX is available in a range of trims and can be equipped with Acura’s advanced torque-vectoring Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive. Power comes from a 3.5-liter V6 engine producing 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque. The MDX is also available as the Sport Hybrid, featuring a 3.0-liter V6 engine teamed with one electric motor on the front axle and two additional electric motors on the rear for a total output of 321 horsepower.
Luxury Full-Size SUV— 2020 Infiniti QX80
5-Year Cost to Own: $83,155
As the flagship SUV of the Infiniti lineup, the QX80 combines a luxurious interior with impressive capability and versatility. Sporting a 400-horsepower 5.6-liter V8 engine under the hood, the QX80 can haul as much as 8,500 pounds and offers seating for up to seven occupants. The interior is properly equipped with leather seat trim, a high-end Bose audio system, and tri-zone climate control. For 2020 the big Infiniti gets a revised center console that features a dual-screen InTouch infotainment system as well as a new 7-inch color monitor in the instrument cluster. The QX80 is also available with the latest safety technology including forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, lane departure prevention and blind-spot intervention.
Minivan — 2020 Chrysler Voyager
5-Year Cost to Own: $44,300
Chrysler brought back the Voyager name — previously used on the Plymouth version of the company’s minivan — as a less expensive version of the Pacifica. Voyager offers all the space and versatility of the Pacifica but at a starting price around $27,000. Powered by the same 287-horsepower V6 engine as the Pacifica, the Voyager has seating for seven, in-floor storage bins, and high tech features including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard equipment. Voyager also has an audio system with six speakers and Active Noise Cancellation.
Midsize Pickup Truck — 2020 Toyota Tacoma
5-Year Cost to Own $39,496
According to Kelley Blue Book, no other midsize truck has earned the award for the lowest ownership costs since this study began. The Tacoma is available in several configurations with two cab styles, two bed lengths, five trim levels and a choice of 2WD or 4WD. For 2020 the Tacoma gets a new grille and wheel designs for most trim levels, as well as an upgraded audio system with a larger touchscreen and Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa compatibility. The Tacoma also holds its value better than any other midsize pickup truck, as it has for the last six years.
Full-Size Pickup Truck — 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500
5-Year Cost to Own: $47,697
Chevrolet introduced an all-new Silverado for the 2019 model year with fresh styling and improved performance and capability. Silverado can be configured in hundreds of ways with different cab sizes, bed lengths, drive systems and trim levels that range from the basic Work Truck to the luxurious and powerful High Country. With seven different engine / transmission combinations, the Silverado can be set up for whatever task necessary — including towing up to 13,400 pounds when the need arises.