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What to Look for More in the Most Economical Car

Updated on May 26, 2018
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Sara has been a Freelance Writer and Editor since 2007, currently in Cincinnati, OH. With a lifelong dream of writing this is it for her!

Are the Cheapest Cars Also the Cheapest to Drive?

Some of the first lists I found that were posted earlier this summer were on the Kelley Blue Book website regarding the “10 Coolest Cars Under $18,000” and the “10 Most Fuel Efficient Cars”. Needless to say none of these car titles overlapped, since almost all of the most fuel efficient cars were of the hybrid variety, and most of the economical cars were of the smaller size. The Volkswagen Jetta was on both lists, though one was the hybrid, and the Honda Civic was also on both lists, though the coupe was under $18,000 and the hybrid was listed as one of the most fuel efficient. Some of the same brand names are seen repeatedly, but apparently the most fuel efficient cars are definitely not the most economically sold cars on the lot. I cannot necessarily be surprised by that fact. So, I looked up some more articles regarding some important facts that I thought I should know before looking for a car myself.

Economy Means More than the Price

I know that personally I am on the road to purchasing another car in the near future and I have been thinking about all of the questions I will have to ask myself before I will have to make that final decision. I figure that only thinking of the type of care that I want along with the initial purchase price would be too hasty of a decision so I had to put together a list of all of the considerations that go along with owning another car and making sure that I decide correctly. I know that my initial concern is what the cost of the car itself will be and possibly the monthly payment, but then after thinking a little I wanted to dig a little further into the most fuel efficient cars out there, and some of the cars that have lowest maintenance costs as well as those with the longest life or highest mileage available, so that I would be able to keep my car the longest for the lowest out-of-pocket cost on my own.

Consider Cars that are Lower-Priced and Also Long-Lasting, Easy Maintenance

Some articles have been written on the least expensive cars to own, considering all of these factors in one when you purchase your next vehicle. Some key points to consider are the average monthly insurance rates, miles-per-gallon of fuel usage, cost of tires, oil changes and other regular maintenance and how often they will be needed, and more.

Note that the link to the article offered here is a bit dated, and there are new auto models on the road today that may offer better results. It's also easy to consider the fact that with the solid manufacturing of many automobiles over the past couple of decades the cost of used vehicles remains higher than when I was a young driver. References seem to compare the inflation rate to fifty years ago, but this is something that seemed to have happened much more recently. It appears that drivers must watch their money closely when purchasing, maintaining and even selling a car.

Always Consider Maintenance and Repairs Down the Road

One of the points that I question on my own concern the issues of maintenance costs and repairs when it comes to the next car I choose to purchase. There was a 2012 article from Business Insider, “These Are The 12 Cheapest Cars For Repairs.” Now, the article starts with the following statement: “The next time you purchase a car, you’ll want to compare prices to ensure you're getting the best upfront deal. But the real expense often comes further down the line, as the car ages.” This is definitely something that car manufacturers and dealerships never mention in their commercials and marketing mailers. I know that many dealerships promote a certain length of time in free oil changes and warranty for certain maintenance or repairs, but how much does that really cover? This article stated from 2011 to 2012 that Toyota was the manufacturer with the least out-pocket expense for “Check Engine”-related repairs, followed by Hyundai and BMW. On the other end of the list, Ford appeared to be the manufacturer that cost customers the most for repairs in that year.

Two Articles Reference Kelley Blue Book Awards for Ownership

In 2014 two articles were published regarding cars that cost the least to own for the first five years after purchase. These two articles in USA Today and Forbes, referred to the Kelley Blue Book annual ownership awards presented for vehicles in 22 different classes for all types of costs including rate of depreciation, fuel economy, financing, insurance rates, maintenance and repair costs. When KBB evaluates all makes and models of cars they go thoroughly through several details and even long-term ownership costs including potential out-of-pocket expenses that can occur over the first five years to the owner. Even though things like financing and insurance rates can vary by owner, the make and model of the car were used to determine averages for the award lists. The top manufacturers for the second year in a row for both luxury and mainstream ownership were Lexus and Mazda. Mazda was rated at the top for its premium reliability in low transaction prices and high residual values as well as having low fuel economy and usually low insurance costs. Lexus is cited for having among the lowest repair cost among the luxury brands while also having affordable fuel and insurance costs as well.

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