Buying a car is not a one-time payment. Too often, people don't think about how much it costs to own a car over its lifetime. Between gas, depreciation, maintenance and other expenses, you'll continue to sink money into your vehicle for a long time after you pay for it at the dealership.
The reality is that you should absolutely factor these costs into you purchasing decision. After all, one car may seem affordable solely based on its sticker price. But taking these long term costs into account could quickly make it a much more expensive piece of machine that you thought.
Consumer Reports recently released the results of a study that showed the cars that cost the least to own over time, factoring in depreciation, fuel costs, loan interest, insurance premiums, sales tax, and maintenance and repairs. Click through to see the cars that are the cheapest to own in their respective segments, according to CR testing, and find out which cars can save you money over the long term.
MSRP: $19,080 - $23,360
Invoice: $18,127 - $21,746
Fuel Economy: 53 mpg City, 46 mpg Highway
The little brother of the Toyota Prius, the Prius c enjoys a very low cost of ownership, given its stellar fuel economy, reliability and low rate of depreciation. It may not be the most exciting car on the market, but it's not going to give you any problems and will take you a long ways on a single tank of gas.
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Fuel Economy: 26 mpg City, 34 mpg Highway
We're due for a completely redesigned Toyota Corolla very soon, but the current version is still a great buy. Toyota's compact car has been a perennial favorite for people looking for a no-drama vehicle that doesn't cost much to own. If the new Corolla comes with the same low cost of ownership combined with a new, sexy design, we may have a new juggernaut in the compact car segment on our hands.
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Fuel Economy: 40 mpg City, 38 mpg Highway
Boasting the room and versatility of a midsize sedan in conjunction with great fuel economy and reliability, it's no surprise that the Toyota Camry Hybrid -- the variation of the best-selling passenger car in America -- doesn't cost much to own.
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MSRP: $31,660 - $39,240
Invoice: $30,394 - $37,670
Fuel Economy: 25 mpg City, 36 mpg Highway
The luxurious LaCrosse enjoys a low cost of ownership partly because of its eAssist feature. eAssist is a "mild hybrid" technology that employs electric power to create more horsepower and to start and assist the 2.4L I4 engine. This allows for a big improvement in fuel economy, meaning less money out of your wallet for gas.
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MSRP: $23,080 - $29,105
Invoice: $22,157 - $27,941
Fuel Economy: 21 mpg City, 32 mpg Highway
Surprisingly well appointed and with a low starting sticker price, the Buick Verano also has the lowest cost of ownership in the upscale sedan category. Fuel economy of 32 mpg on the freeway and fairly low maintenance costs will do that.
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Fuel Economy: 40 mpg City, 39 mpg Highway
A new car for 2013, the Lexus ES 300h is the hybrid take on the successful Lexus ES 350. Fuel economy is great and deprecation is low, making this luxury hybrid easy to own.
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MSRP: $19,500 - $24,950
Invoice: $17,550 - $22,455
Fuel Economy: 29 mpg City, 37 mpg Highway
We here at AOL Autos love the MINI Cooper for its excellent driving dynamics and unique design. Add in the fact that it has the lowest cost of ownership for sporty cars and you really have a winner.
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MSRP: $21,995 - $24,495
Invoice: $20,876 - $23,178
Fuel Economy: 23 mpg City, 30 mpg Highway
The XV Crosstrek is an interesting vehicle in that it's kind of a souped up Subaru Impreza. With all-weather capability and very distinctive styling, this new small SUV may fly under the radar for many car shoppers, but we think it's a great choice. Subaru has a great track record for reliability and safety, making its cost of ownership quite low.
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MSRP: $24,450 - $29,450
Invoice: $23,492 - $27,948
Fuel Economy: 21 mpg City, 29 mpg Highway
The Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is one of our favorite new SUVs. It has a great interior, excellent styling and can be had for less than much of its competition. Its utility, safety and cheapness to own make and even stronger case for this vehicle.
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MSRP: $33,300 - $35,250
Invoice: $31,052 - $32,872
Fuel Economy: 18 mpg City, 25 mpg Highway
Though you don't see all that many of them on the road, the Ford Flex is still an excellent choice, especially if you have a family to cart around. Offering three rows of seating, the Flex has a high level of versatility, too. AOL Autos always rates it high for being one of our favorite road-trip cars and a terrific alternative to minivans if you have the minivan blues.
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MSRP: $34,320 - $35,720
Invoice: $32,245 - $33,541
Fuel Economy: 20 mpg City, 28 mpg Highway
Redesigned for the 2013 model year, the Acura RDX is a great luxury SUV. An extremely well appointed interior, quiet ride and great reliability help to make this car not only the cheapest, but also one of the best vehicles to own in its class.
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