The Cars, Trucks, And SUVs That Are The Most Economical To Own

The Cars, Trucks, And SUVs That Are The Most Economical To Own

Unless you’ve been living underground for the past two years you already know that these are not normal times, particularly in regard to the new-vehicle business. A convergence of factors, including the lingering semiconductor supply issues, turbocharged consumer demand, and the resulting inventory shortage have conspired to raise new-vehicle prices to unprecedented levels.

Given the current state of affairs, shoppers can forget about haggling to buy a car at the dealer’s invoice price, and don’t expect much, if anything in the way of cash rebates and other incentives to help sweeten a deal. The majority of buyers are having to pay full retail—even way above sticker price—to obtain what they want these days, with the average model now commanding over $46,000.

The prudent course of action given the current state of affairs in the car business would be to sit things out and hold onto one’s current ride until market conditions settle down to some form of normalcy. Unfortunately that may not happen until much later in the year, and perhaps not until some point in 2023. Those driving a vehicle that’s old and on the verge of self-destruction, or one that’s just coming off of a lease may not be able to wait several months until new-car prices drift back to Earth.

There is, however, a time-honored way for buyers to wring every last penny out of their automotive investments, regardless of the up-front cost. Astute car shoppers know they can save themselves thousands of dollars over a typical five-year period by choosing a vehicle that’s inherently cheaper to own than a similar model.

The difference between one model’s long-term ownership costs and another in a given category can be staggering. That means keeping a watchful eye on factors that include a vehicle’s depreciation (how much of its original value is lost over time), the cost of fuel, insurance premiums, maintenance charges, and out-of-warranty repairs.

“Shoppers can save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars over time when they choose to buy a vehicle with low ownership costs,” says Janice Yoell, senior manager of valuations for Kelley Blue Book ( “Taking the time to research what it will cost to own a new car can help savvy shoppers keep more money in their pockets in the long run.

Fortunately, the valuation mavens at KBB just released their annual list of Five-Year Cost-to-Own winners in each of 23 categories, including full-electric models, which are the new cars, trucks, vans, and SUVs for the 2022 model year that are inherently cheaper to keep for half a decade. We’re featuring them below.

Of these ongoing charges, depreciation is the biggest factor to consider. The typical car loses as much as 50 percent or more of its original worth after a typical five-year ownership period, which on a $42,000 model amounts to $21,000, Picking a model that instead holds onto 60 percent of its value after five years saves around $4,200 at trade-in time. Luxury vehicles tend to shed the most dollars over time, among other factors simply because there’s more at stake to lose. Unfortunately, determining what a given model will be worth at some future point is informed soothsaying at best. Few could have predicted a pandemic would erupt that would, both directly and indirectly, cause used car values to skyrocket to unprecedented levels.

As we’ve seen over the past year, fuel costs are as volatile as ever and can erupt at any time due to supply, demand, and geopolitical issues. As of this writing, gasoline is at a national average $4.325 per gallon, which is $1.47 higher than it was at this point a year ago. It averages a whopping $5.77 in California. According to the EPA, choosing a vehicle that gets 10 mpg better fuel economy than another will cost a motorist $750 less per year at the current average cost of regular grade gas, and $3,750 less over a half decade driving 15,000 miles annually. At the least, be sure to choose a model for which regular grade gas is recommended instead of premium, which is currently an average of $0.65 more expensive per gallon.

KBB cites Toyota as having the lowest overall ownership costs among mainstream makes, with the automaker’s Lexus division taking top honors among luxury brands, with both brands’ excellent resale values helping keep expenditures affordable across the model line. Meanwhile, with many of its vehicles performing above average in delivering low ownership costs. The model among those cited predicted to be the cheapest to own for five years is the 2022 Hyundai Venue subcompact crossover at an estimated $30,055, which is nearly $7,000 less than the segment average among SUVs

Here are KBB’s Five-Year Cost-to-Own winners in each market segment and their projected long-term operating costs for 2022.

  • Compact Car: Toyota Corolla ($31,464)
  • Midsize Car: Honda Accord ($38,713)
  • Full-Size Car: Toyota Avalon ($51,123)
  • Entry-Level Luxury Car: Acura ILX ($41,192)
  • Luxury Car: Volvo S90 ($67,365)
  • Sports Car: Subaru BRZ ($40,397)
  • Hybrid Vehicle: Toyota Corolla Hybrid ($31,231)
  • Electric Vehicle: Nissan Leaf ($34,134)
  • Subcompact SUV: Hyundai Venue ($30,555)
  • Compact SUV: Subaru Forester ($39,473)
  • Midsize SUV – 2-Row: Subaru Outback ($43,973)
  • Midsize SUV – 3-Row: Subaru Ascent ($48,383)
  • Full-Size SUV: Nissan Armada ($69,416)
  • Luxury Subcompact SUV: Lexus UX ($46,424)
  • Luxury Compact SUV: Lexus NX ($51,227)
  • Luxury Midsize SUV – 2-Row: Lexus RX ($62,099)
  • Luxury Midsize SUV – 3-Row: Acura MDX ($60,530)
  • Luxury Full-Size SUV: Lexus LX ($88,956)
  • Off-Road SUV: Ford Bronco ($47,961)
  • Midsize Pickup Truck: Ford Ranger ($40,267)
  • Full-Size Pickup Truck: Toyota Tundra ($47,679)
  • Minivan: Toyota Sienna ($44,376)
  • Luxury Electric Vehicle: Tesla Model 3 ($48,223)

You can read the KBB’s full report here.