When you’re looking to purchase a new vehicle, you want to get as much bang for your buck as possible. Naturally, that means finding one that has an affordable price. But there are other financial factors to consider, such as auto insurance costs, fuel economy, and trade-in value.
One of the most important — but least discussed — aspects of the cost of a new car is how much money you will spend on its normal maintenance. After all, a car with a low price and great gas mileage isn’t a great deal if you’re constantly opening up your wallet to pay for repairs.
With that in mind, here are the ten most inexpensive vehicles to maintain in the U.S. (based on the 2011 model year).
5-year service cost: $2,937
It’s no surprise that the king of the low-cost maintenance vehicles is a compact car. Like the Volkswagen Beetle, it’s bigger on the inside than it looks.
5-year service cost: $2,991
It’s one of the most popular cars in the world for a reason; over the last five years, its sales are second in the U.S. only to its automotive sibling — the Camry.
5-year service cost: $3,029
It’s a perfectly competent, surprisingly durable compact car, and it even comes with its own complementary scheduled-maintenance program (hence its ranking).
5-year service cost: $3,035
When an automaker boasts three of the top four least expensive vehicles to maintain on the market today — including the only pickup truck in the top 10 — you know that Toyota is doing something right.
5-year service cost: $3,036
If you want one of these cost-effective Korean-made cars, you’d better act fast — it will soon be replaced in the Chevy stables by the Sonic.
5-year service cost: $3,043
Belying its image as a rolling mass of gas-guzzling American opulence, this Caddy makes the list largely because of the automaker’s extraordinarily-thorough free maintenance plan.
Volvo S40 & V50
5-year service cost: $3,056
Volvo’s gratis owner maintenance program is even better than the one offered by Cadillac, which lowers the cost of upkeep for this twin sedan-wagon combo.
5-year service cost: $3,058
The aforementioned Cadillac service plan is enough to offset this sedan’s relatively high repair costs (because of more expensive labor and parts).
Toyota Camry Hybrid
5-year service cost: $3,067
It’s the only alternative-fuel vehicle on its list; remarkably, it is actually cheaper to maintain than its gas-combustion engine counterpart.
5-year service cost: $3,089
This entry definitely deserves the Most Improved Car award in terms of reliability and maintenance; some of the earlier models a decade ago were the “focus” of several automotive recalls.