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When you are shopping for cars, you realize that you have to take affordability into account. That is, you want to buy the car that will make sense for your financially (as well as taking into account safety, reliability and the like). If you just go by what a car costs at the dealership, however, you won’t be getting the full picture. Instead, you need to consider the cost-of-ownership for the vehicle that you are considering purchasing.

The cost-of-ownership is a more inclusive measurement of how affordable a car really is. After calculating items like depreciation, insurance, financing, fuel costs, regular maintenance costs (like an oil change) and potential car repair costs at the auto shop, you may get a different (and more accurate) picture of what that new car will really cost you later on. After calculating the real cost-of-ownership, you may even find out that the car with the lower sticker price actually turns out to be more expensive when you factor everything in. It would be nice, but it’s just not realistic to think that you don’t pay any more for a car once you wheel it off the lot. Of course, those of us who have owned cars know better. Many of us have ended up with a ‘lemon’ at one point or another and maybe sunk way too much money into it for car repair at the auto shop.

It may look cool, but what will it cost you to own? (photo by Moyan_Brenn via Flickr)
It may look cool, but what will it cost you to own? (photo by Moyan_Brenn via Flickr)

So, once you break down the cost-of-ownership based on all of these factors, which cars are the most affordable to own? Well, we’ve got a list here of the top 5 vehicles in terms of affordability based on cost-of-ownership. And without further ado, here they are:

Vehicle – 5-year cost-of-ownership

  1. Nissan Versa – $20,595
  2. Toyota Yaris – $21,593
  3. Hyundai Accent – $22,664
  4. Honda Civic – $22,779
  5. Scion xD – $23,330
[source: howstuffworks.com]
You may notice that a lot of the cars on that list are compact or subcompact vehicles. It turns out that the smaller cars are significantly cheaper to own than the larger ones (trucks and SUVs are even more expensive to own). At the top spot, the Nissan Versa is the most affordable car based on cost-of-ownership. Its sticker price is from $11,990 to $16,530, meaning that it is one of the cheapest cars period. If all you were considering in purchasing a vehicle was the cost-of-ownership than the Versa would be the car for you. From fuel cost to the price of auto repair, the Versa is affordable all around. But, of course there are other things that factor in as well. If you need more room, or just hate the look of a Nissan Versa, you might want to opt for a different car instead.

If you want to calculate the cost-of-ownership for a vehicle that you are looking to purchase, head over to Edmunds.com or Kelley Blue Book. Both offer cost-of-ownership calculators that will give you the full picture before you decide to buy. And, of course, its always smart to stop by the auto shop and pick the brain of your local auto technician. Since they spend every day going from car repair to oil change, they can tell you which cars are the best put together and which ones to avoid.

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