You might be surprised to learn that the cheapest cars to purchase are not always the cheapest to own in the long run! There are several considerations you must take into account when looking to purchase a new car if want to get the best value for your dollar. It is always a good idea to compare the overall value of a car before buying one, not simply sticker prices and features.

The Kelly Blue Book website is a good place to begin your vehicle comparison. You can view the total cost for different vehicles over a five year span, and even compare vehicles side by side. However, when comparing vehicles make sure to focus on certain factors that impact long term cost.

Factors Affecting Long Term Costs

There are several factors besides the MSRP that affect the overall cost of owning a car. One of the most important factors is the vehicle resale price compared to the initial cost. Cars that hold their value well will have a lower overall cost to own since more of the money invested in them can be recouped.

A second factor is maintenance and parts costs. Cars that require a lot of regular maintenance (or have expensive parts to replace) will be more expensive to own over time. Some cars have maintenance schedules that require more maintenance appointments than others. Many luxury vehicles are not only costly to purchase, but will cause you to shell out a lot of money for replacement parts – especially if they are imports.

The cost to insure a vehicle is another important factor when determining the overall ownership costs of a vehicle. Car insurance companies typically charge more to insure sportier cars or vehicles with higher replacement values.

The final factor is fuel costs. Cars that get more miles per gallon will cost less to drive than those that are gas guzzlers. This is becoming an increasingly important factor in the overall cost of vehicles as gas prices continue to rise.

The Cheapest Makes and Models of Cars to Own

Taking these factors into account, the following vehicles are some of the cheapest cars to own. Most are smaller cars with a more conservative look.

Hyundai Elantra

With a sticker price of only around $15,000 and a good resale value, the Hyundai Elantra is one of the most budget friendly vehicle options. The 2012 Elantra gets 40 mpg on the highway which also adds to its value. Despite being an inexpensive car, this Hyundai can still perform with a powerful 4 cylinder engine; and has luxurious features such as Ipod and USB jacks with more interior room than similar vehicles in its class. The Elantra also gets top safety marks from the IIHS.

Kia Forte

Another compact vehicle also priced around $15,000 is the Kia Forte. The Forte gets an average of 35 mpg on the highway and has received the EPA Smartway Certification Mark for 2012 for being an ecofriendly vehicle. The Forte also has a comprehensive safety package standard on all models including the bottom of the line LX. This includes such features as extended side curtain airbags, electronic stability control, an impact absorbing steering column, and front and rear crumple zones.

Toyota Yaris

The Toyota Yaris is one of Toyota’s most compact models and comes with a starting price of only $14,000 with a 38 Highway MPG fuel rating. This subcompact car is very small, but for someone without a lot to cart around this car is perfect.  The Yaris comes with a Star Safety System, and is rated as an Ultra-Low Emissions vehicle.

Nissan Versa

With a starting price of only $11,000, the resale value does not even need to be taken into account to make the Nissan Versa a good value. It boasts greater headroom than other vehicles of similar size and comes with some top technology features including Bluetooth and USB ports and an optional touch screen navigation system.

Hyundai Accent

Another Hyundai also receives top marks for being one of the least expensive cars to own. The Accent has a base price of $12,500.  The Accent also gets 40 miles per gallon highway mileage and comes standard with an Active Eco System which can be turned on for even better fuel economy. Notable features include a 172 watt stereo system and a vehicle stability management system for safety.

Chevrolet Aero

The Chevy Aveo proves that American made cars can still be a good value. The Aveo has a sticker price from $13,000 – $16,000, depending on the model, and has been found to hold its value over time. Kelly Blue Book consumer ratings give the Aveo top marks for both value and reliability. Style and performance may suffer some with this vehicle though.

With the current state of the economy, housing market, and unemployment numbers many people are looking to spend less on their cars. Take the time to do your research and you could save yourself a lot of money in the long run. The vehicles mentioned in this article are good choices for a person on a budget.