• Aug 27th 2010 at 1:01PM
  • 23
NADA picks vehicles with the best cost of ownership – Click above for high-res image gallery

We've all been there. A new car model of some variety or another strikes our fancy, we start playing around with the configurator, and before long we're staring at a nice, tidy monthly payment on the computer screen. It seems reasonable. With a little starvation and the occasional dabbling in petty crime, it might even be easy to hand over that stack of hundred-dollar bills each and every month. Then reality politely reminds us that there's more to paying for a new car than the check we write to the bank. Things like fuel, insurance, fees, taxes, repairs and maintenance can quickly add up to more than your monthly payment. There's even depreciation to factor in. The pros call all of this the cost of ownership.

Good thing, too. We've never really been too deft at pick-pocketing.

The good folk at NADA have worked up a list of vehicles with the best cost of ownership compared to their MSRP. Sure, they assumed a few variables – specifically, that the vehicles would be driven around 15,000 miles per year by someone with at least six years of driving experience, but the figures are a good operating base for your own car-buying fantasies. Check out the gallery below for the winners in their segments and then hop the jump for the full press blast.

  • 2011 Ford Mustang GT
  • 2010 BMW 128i Convertible
  • 2010 Honda CR-V
  • 2011 Ford Edge
  • 2010 Audi A3
  • 2010 Volvo S40
  • 2010 Honda Civic Sedan
  • 2010 Chevrolet Impala
  • 2010 Nissan Xterra
  • 2010 Hyundai Veracruz
  • 2010 Chevrolet Colorado
  • 2010 GMC Sierra 1500

[Source: NADA]

Show full PR text
NADAguides.com Lists the Vehicles With the Best Cost of Ownership
-Reminding consumers there is more to a car purchase than just the MSRP; BUT how much more? -

COSTA MESA, Calif., Aug. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Most consumers begin the car shopping process by setting a monthly or overall budget. However, the overall or monthly budget for a new car purchase isn't the only cost that should be considered when researching cars. Too often there are vital costs that are overlooked and should be considered when determining a budget. Fees and taxes can be a surprise during a vehicle purchase and depending on the state can typically include sales tax, documentation fees and registration; these can add up quickly. In addition, insurance costs, fuel, maintenance and typical repairs should also be included in the overall cost of the vehicle.

To assist consumers with this process, the analysts at NADAguides have used its Cost of Ownership tool to present the top vehicles with the best cost of ownership. The cost of ownership value takes into account depreciation, fees and taxes, financing, insurance, fuel, maintenance and repairs over a five-year period.
"Far too many consumers get into a vehicle that is beyond their means. Not because they are unable to afford the monthly payments, but because they are unable to financially keep up with the ongoing costs associated with a vehicle - insurance, repairs, oil changes, etc.," says Don Christy, Jr., president of NADAguides. "Our team at NADAguides specifically developed the Cost of Ownership tool to help consumers determine what they can really afford."

The NADAguides top picks by body style with the best cost of ownership in relationship to their MSRP are:


2011 Ford Mustang 2 Door GT Premium: MSRP of $32,845 with a total cost of ownership of $54,281 over a 5-year period, averaging $10,856.20 per year.

2011 BMW 1 Series 2 Door Convertible 128i SULEV: MSRP of $34,200 with a total cost of ownership of $58,385 over a 5-year period, averaging $11,677.00 per year.


2010 Honda CR-V 4WD 5 Door EX-L w/ Navigation: MSRP of $29,745 with a total cost of ownership of $46,166 over a 5-year period, averaging $9,233.20 per year.

2011 Ford Edge 4 Door Limited: MSRP of $34,220 with a total cost of ownership of $54,048 over a 5-year period, averaging $10,809.60 per year.

Luxury Vehicles

2010 Audi A3 4 Door HB S Tronic 2.0 TDI Front Track Premium: MSRP of $29,950 with a total cost of ownership of $48,703 over a 5-year period, averaging $9,740.60 per year.

2010 Volvo S40 4 Door Sedan Automatic FWD: MSRP of $31,150 with a total cost of ownership of $51,791 over a 5-year period, averaging $10,358.20 per year.


2010 Honda Civic 4 Door Auto GX: MSRP of $25,340 with a total cost of ownership of $39,915 over a 5-year period, averaging $7,983.00 per year.

2010 Chevrolet Impala 4 Door Sedan LTZ: MSRP of $29,930 with a total cost of ownership of $47,397 over a 5-year period, averaging $9,479.40 per year.


2010 Nissan Xterra 4WD 4 Door Auto Off Road: MSRP of $30,700 with a total cost of ownership of $46,517 over a 5-year period, averaging $9,303.40 per year.

2010 Hyundai Veracruz FWD 4 Door Limited: MSRP of $34,195 with a total cost of ownership of $53,587 over a 5-year period, averaging $10,717.40 per year.


2010 Chevrolet Colorado 4WD Crew Cab 126.0" LT w/1LT: MSRP of $27,395 with a total cost of ownership of $42,461 over a 5-year period, averaging $8,492.20 per year.

2010 GMC Sierra 1500 2WD Crew Cab 143.5" Xtra Fuel Economy: MSRP of $33,595 with a total cost of ownership of $52,447 over a 5-year period, averaging $10,489.40 per year.

Note: Actual cost of ownership values are based upon average miles driven per year, years of driving experience and ZIP code including the costs of depreciation, fees and taxes, financing, insurance, fuel, maintenance and repairs over a five-year period. For this comparison, metrics were based off of a driver with more than 6 years experience that drives an average of 15,000 miles/year in the ZIP of 92626.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Chevy Colorado?? Are you kidding me? that got rated one of the worst vehicles period ever to own. Reliability, cheapness, outdated, etc.

        • 5 Years Ago
        @akboss302, you're right, it would be a better buy, but this seems to examine the ratio of msrp to tco. By adding lots of techno gadgets and luxury items, msrp skyrockets while tco stays essentially the same. Notice how every car on this list is limited or premium trim with all the extra packages. While seemingly logical, this test favors vehicles with high msrp, not low tco, as it should. A more fair way to do things would be to only examine base models.
        • 5 Years Ago

        5.0 rocks.
        • 5 Years Ago
        That segment is loaded with outdated vehicles. The Colorado is relatively young for a small truck model, right?

        Anyway, I think you might find that cars that people find cheap and outdated are often very affordable to drive. And that is what this study is about.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Audi won the luxury class. The VW TDI is not in the luxury class, the Audi A3 is. And yes, we own a Jetta Wagon TDI and Audi A3.

        The VW is a better value from a pure function standpoint, but even just sitting in them at the dealership you can tell the Audi is a grade above (with a corresponding sticker bump too).
      • 5 Years Ago
      Pro tip: a convertible is not a coupe.

      How did the Ranger not beat out the Colorado?

      Are the insurance rates terrible on the Scion tC and Hyundai Genesis Coupe? How else could a BMW beat them out on TCO?
        • 5 Years Ago
        I didn't realize they assume you sell it at the end.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It's relative so cars with a high initial MSRP automatically get a huge advantage. Frankly it's pretty silly since a BMW costs several times as much money to own as a Hyundai or Toyota.
        And some of these cars basically win by default due to a lack of competitors. Most of the time I've seen cost of ownership studies the Impala only has 1-2 competitors being compared against that aren't ever actually cross shopped. When compared against the cars actually cross-shopped it makes a lot less sense.
        • 5 Years Ago
        BMW includes all scheduled maintenance for four years. Not so with Hyundai and Scion. BMWs also have much higher residual values.

        At least in my experience, BMWs are not expensive to insure. Cars that are most often driven by young drivers, like Scions, are comparatively expensive due to frequency of repair claims. (Sucks for older drivers who can be responsible with their GTIs and Mustangs.) I am sure this depends heavily on zip code though. Where I am in Florida the insurance difference between a 20k Civic and a 100k SL550 would be a matter of a couple hundred dollars per year.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I can't speak about the Colorado, but I can only assume that the BMW has far better resale value than the Hyundai and Scion, not to mention the 3.0 straight six is pretty damn reliable to boot. Also most definitely a contributing factor for the BMW's superior TCO score is that BMW has free maintenance for a whopping 50,000/4 years that even includes things like brake rotors and pads. Combined with the 50,000/4 year bumper-to-bumper warrenty, it's entirely feasible that one could drive a new BMW for four years and never pay a dime out of pocket for repairs or maintenance. Pretty impressive if you ask me.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This "study" makes no sense at all. You're talking about total cost of ownership and the least expensive vehicle on the list is $25k? Note that the two cheapest vehicles listed were also significantly cheaper in annual total cost. There's no way there aren't some sub $20k vehicles that fit these categories, are reliable, and wouldn't be outrageous to insure.

      And how can the numbers work out to justify a AWD EX-L with Nav CRV over a base model? The base model would be thousands cheaper to buy, get better gas mileage, and have less to go wrong. Maybe AWD nets some insurance discount, but you're also insuring a more expensive vehicle. The more expensive vehicle will likely depreciate more $ as well (although maybe not as a % or MSRP).

      • 5 Years Ago
      This list is off . .
      • 5 Years Ago
      I guess NADA stands for "NADA clue"

      cost of ownership during first several years don't mean nothing.... just wait until the problems/issues start creeping up after the honeymoon warranty period is over, then we'll see the true cost of ownership of

      BMWs (BreakMyWallet ) and "need-3-hours-of-labor-to-replace-simple-starter-motor" pos. Audis. lol.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "cost of ownership during first several years don't mean nothing" So you are saying it is important?

        NADA looked at a 5 year period because that is the typical time frame a new car buyer keeps a car. They buy a 2010 Honda Civic with a 5 year auto loan. Once its paid off they go to trade it in for a new car, "while it still holds some value".

        If you *really* want best cost of ownership, yes you keep the car for 10+ years. As the car ages the insurance goes down, today's cars (on average) are very reliable and repairs that are needed outside the warranty period will likely run less than a monthly payment. But there are not to many people who buy a brand new car and run it until the wheels fall off.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Perhaps, but remember that with the BMW you are completely covered for the first four years, and the resale value of BMW is second to none. If you're only keeping the car 4-5years, its a great value for what it is.

        But that is one thing I love about my 1995 Impala SS. It may not get the best fuel economy (it is over 4000lbs after all), but it has been absolutely reliable with the exception of the power windows occasionally needing maintenance.

        Not bad for 15 years and 150K miles to just have to put in gas, oil, filters, and replace wear out items like the hood struts and shocks, and because of the iconic name it actually has decent resale value if unmolested and in good-to-excellent condition. =)
        • 5 Years Ago
        looks pretty obvious to me that this survey is intended for potential NEW car buyers. Also it seems to me a measurement of the first 5 years of a car's service life is more indicative of the initial engineering/build quality of the car itself than of a higher aged car.

        everything's out the window once you talk about 5+ year old cars, because at that point how much you spend on the car for years 6-10 depends a whole lot on how the car was maintained in its first 5 years in service.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It's 6 years with an average of 15k miles per year. Granted maybe they can do 10 years with 15 k miles per year but people are going to complain about how these vehicles are 10 years outdated.

      • 5 Years Ago
      didn't NADA get nailed for fake figures in a survey less than a year ago? i remember someone posting a link to a site that did statistical analysis and said NADA's numbers were screwy...
      • 5 Years Ago
      The study was released by NADA....I don't think some dealers would be happy if they only showed how cheap is was to purchase and own a base CRV or a Toyota Corolla over an Audi A3 or any other loaded vehicle.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I was Glad to see the ford mustang made the list. The 2011 Hyundai sonata should have made the list too, especially over some of those out dated cars like both the Honda's and the impala. Oh well maybe next year !
      • 5 Years Ago
      Study results are only as good as the study: This study did NOT consider the frequency of repairs, as far as I can tell from NADA's press release. Arguably, repair frequency would be captured in the depreciation calculation since people should be less willing to buy a car which requires frequent repairs, thereby dropping the resale value and hence increasing depreciation. However, the presence of the A3 on NADA's list suggests that this isn't the case. To wit, Consumer Reports gave the 2006 A3 the worst "predicted reliability" score possible (the TDI version is not separately rated), a distinction rarely garnered by any car which CR rates. Newer versions have scored an "average" in this category, but typical of poorly made vehicles, as they age, their "predicted reliability" score decreases, as will likely be the case with the A3. Regardless, a vehicle such as the A3 TDI with an "average" predicted reliability should not show up on a "Best Cost of Ownership" list, such as the one created by NADA. In essence, rely on a variety of sources to determine which car is the best fit for your needs, not on one study. By the way, what the heck was RandyMarsh980's point?
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