10 least expensive to own vehicles – not one is hybrid

By glblguy

High gas prices are the talk of the town these days. Talk of high gas prices is on the nightly news, the topic of conversation at the local coffee shop and even around the water cooler at work. People are reacting to the prices differently. Some are telecommuting more frequently, others are practicing hypermiling techniques, some are looking to more questionable practices like using water based devices, and others are trading their gas guzzlers for smaller cars or hybrids.

When people talk of fuel efficient cars, hybrids cars are what immediately come to mind. Turns out though, they may not be the least expensive choice. Edmunds.com recently conducted a study that looks at the overall cost of owning cars. While hybrids certainly come out at the top when looking exclusively at fuel costs, they aren’t the best financial choice overall. Actually, the Chevrolet Aveo is.

Edmunds.com cost per mile

For each vehicle on Edmunds.com, Edmunds provides something they called the Total Cost to Own (TCO). TCO calculates the additional costs you may not have included when considering a vehicle purchase. These extra costs include: depreciation, interest on your loan, taxes and fees, insurance premiums, fuel costs, maintenance, and repairs. TCO looks beyond just fuel costs.

In fact, when looking at the top 10 vehicles with the least TCO, only one hybrid that would be included is the Honda Civic Hybrid at that’s only if gas prices get above $5.00 per gallon. Once all of the factors that play into the overall cost of a vehicle, many vehicles one might think make smart choices in fact don’t. Here is top 10 list of cars from Edmunds.com that are the cheapest to own:



Cost-Per-Mile at
$4.06 Per Gallon


2008 Chevrolet Aveo

5 Special Value 4dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl 5M)



2008 Hyundai Accent

GS 2dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl 5M)



2008 Honda Fit

4dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl 5M)



2008 Toyota Yaris

2dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl 5M)



2008 Honda Civic

DX 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 5M)



2008 Nissan Versa

1.8 S 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl 6M)



2008 Mazda MAZDA3

i Sport 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)



2008 Kia Rio

4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl 5M)



2008 Scion xB

4dr Wagon (2.4L 4cyl 5M)



2008 Toyota Corolla

CE 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 5M)


Source: Edmunds.com

Focus on overall cost, not just fuel cost

If you are like me, you found this list surprising. I expected to see the Toyota Prius at the top along with a few other hybrids based on all of the exposure these vehicles are receiving lately. The lesson here: Look beyond just fuel cost. Fuel costs are receiving a great deal of attention these days due to the “in your face” impact gas has on our pocket books. However, like many things personal finance related focusing on short term cost can be misleading. Instead, using TCO and focusing on the longer term perspective shows that there are other vehicles that over the longer haul prove to be far less expensive even though they use more fuel.

Make sure you look beyond just fuel price when making a decision. Doing so can save you a tremendous amount of money. Here’s a quick example of why it might not be in your best financial interest to dump that SUV:

We own a Dodge Durango (yes, it has a Hemi). Forgetting the fact for a minute we have 6 children, should we buy a Toyota Prius and trade in a four-year-old Durgango? Here’ the figures:

* The Durango is worth $11,164 in this market.
* The price of the Prius is $23,903.
* The balance is $12,739.

Driving 1,500 miles per month and using 4.59 per gallon, we would be saving $312 per month in the cost of gas. However, given the fact that it would cost us at least $12,739 to make this switch, it would take 40 months (or three and a half years) before we would begin actually saving money on gas. Want to see what your cost would be? Try out Edmunds.com’s Gas Guzzler for Gas Sipper calculator.

Photo by: thingermejig

16 Responses (including trackbacks) to “10 least expensive to own vehicles – not one is hybrid”

  1. Justin Says:

    One thing that you may not be considering in the TCO issue is that the TCO is based on 5 years of ownership. I have a very hard time believing the Aveo will have a lower TCO over the lifetime of the vehicle than a Civic, Corolla, Yaris, even the hybrids you mentioned.

  2. Twinsmom Says:

    I drive a Pontiac Montana van. It’s not the most fuel-efficient vehicle, but it will be paid off in about 7 months. When I ran the Edmund’s calculator mentioned above, trading in for a used Honda Civic (which I have considered lately), it would take over 2000 months (166+ years) before I saw any savings! I think that has cured me of the “I want a new-to-me, fuel-efficient vehicle” urge for now. Plus, any vehicle that is payment-free automatically becomes inexpensive to own at that point. I’d rather pay 50-cents more per gallon (equalling maybe $15 for what I drive in a month) than $200 more a month in car payment.

  3. ChristianPF Says:

    yea for the Fit… I love my Fit just a little bit more now…

  4. Mindy Says:

    Thanks for the article. I’m so sick of people telling me I should buy a hybrid so I can save on gas. I drive a 1991 Corolla. I have no car payments and the car is in great shape. I bought it for $1500 two years ago, knowing it needed a new clutch. Got the new clutch and had them change the timing belt while they were in there. Other than that it’s been standard stuff like oil changes, tune-ups, and checks before I go on long trips to visit my parents.

    Why on earth would I get rid of this great car now, when the gas mileage is reasonable and it’s in fantastic condition? Heck it only has 135k miles on it. The thing can probably give me another 65k miles or so.

  5. Ryan @ Smarter Wealth Says:

    Great helpful information. Thankyou

  6. Jim Says:

    One has to remember that in many cases there are additional reasons behind wanting to own a hybrid… e.g. the environmental impact of the vehicle overall, not just its impact on ones cost in the fuel department.

  7. celticbuffy Says:

    Yeah! I drive car #2, a Hyundai Accent (albeit the 2006 version).

  8. Pinyo Says:

    I wish they would make a more fuel efficient minivan. :-(

  9. Justin Says:

    @pinyo, you mean like the Mazda5? Or the Kia Rondo?
    Toyota Avensis, etc?

    They’re available.

  10. CD Rates - ChrisCD Says:

    Size of Family is a very important consideration. We have six kids also. If we all want to go somewhere, taking two cars is not feasable. We have a 15-passenger Van that is paid for. We are looking at fixing up one of our other cars so when I’m at work, my wife doesn’t have to drive it for small trips, but fixing up the other car is by far more effecient than buying a new one. Of course, I should see if the Edmonds calcs can help determine when I will break even on the car repair bill.

  11. Funny about Money Says:

    Suspicions confirmed! Thanks for this excellent review.

    BTW, @ Pinyo: using some of the safer hypermiling techniques, I’ve been squeezing 25 mpg out of my Sienna, which was making 19 mpg overall with my old, evil driving ways. It’s not great, but it’s not bad for a six-banger. In addition to hypermiling, I also took out the seats that weren’t being used regularly. If you don’t need six seats, don’t haul the darn things around.

  12. Easy Ways to Go Green Says:

    Who would have thought! Now if only they could make a few of these models a bit more attractive looking…