Getting a good deal on a new car is important. But so is buying a car that won't cost a lot in repairs down the line. Here are nine cars that cost the least to own.

Buying a car is a big decision that costs big money.

If you’re a car buyer on a budget, figuring out which car will be the most reliable—but cost the least—is a daunting task. There are many factors to consider—not just the sticker price, but repairs, gas mileage, and insurance costs as well.

The good news? There are plenty of cars that have low all-around costs. Here are 9 cars that cost the least to own:


Many Toyotas are a good deal financially. Consistently rated highest in safety and on the lower end for cost, Toyotas are the ideal car for anyone looking for a reliable, cost-efficient car. Toyotas also come with low repair costs.

The Prius and Corolla rank among the most cost-efficient Toyota models.


Toyota Prius

It’s no surprise that the Toyota Prius is the most cost-efficient car for gas mileage, with an average of 50 miles per gallon.

Not only do Priuses visit the mechanic less frequently, but the cost to repair a Prius is considerably lower than other repair rates, with an average cost of a little over $1,000 over five years.

The catch with a Prius is the initial cost and the slightly higher insurance rates that come with any compact car. Smaller cars are more difficult to see, and people who drive fuel-efficient cars tend to drive more frequently, increasing their risk of being in an accident—driving up their insurance rates.

Priuses have higher initial cost than most other Toyotas due to their fuel efficiency. A new 2016 or 2017 Prius (depending on the model) can range from $25,000-$30,000.

When considering a used Prius, take into consideration how old it is. Replacing the battery in a Prius will set you back a hefty $3,000, but you shouldn’t need to worry about that until the car hits 150,000 miles.


Toyota Corolla

The Toyota Corolla is a simple, compact car that ranks high in safety and reliability.

Cost-wise, a new 2016-2017 Corolla ranges between $18,000-$24,000. The gas mileage is a respectable 27 mpg in the city and 35-40 mpg on the highway.

The used car cost for the Corolla is what makes it an especially good deal. Depending on where you live and the year, a used Corolla can cost a couple thousand dollars to a little over $10,000—not bad for a car that can last over 200,000 miles.


Of late, Kia has been catching up to Toyota in cost and reliability. With a lower initial new car cost and repair costs that hover in the same range as Toyotas, Kia could be a more efficient car than Toyota for some.

The Kia Soul and Kia Rio are among the best reviewed models.


Kia Soul

You may remember the Kia Soul best from the commercials featuring dancing hamsters driving a booming car.

With 23/31 (city/highway) mpg, they get decent gas mileage, but what sets them apart is their low repair costs. Next to the Prius, the Kia Soul has the lowest maintenance and repair costs, at around $4,700 over a ten year period.

As with most cars, there are some gripes that users have with the Kia Soul. First, its look may not be for everyone. It’s boxy rather than sporty or sleek. Second, the acceleration on the Soul is lacking, so be careful merging or passing on the highway.


Kia Rio

The Kia Rio’s new-car cost makes it a great deal. At $15,000-$20,000, you’ll be hard pressed to find a reliable, yet still initially cost-efficient car.

While the car itself is low cost, there’s a high price to pay for many features. Reviews of the Rio cite acceleration as an annoying problem, just like the Soul.

Used Kia Rios, while not boxy, lack much of the interior equipment of newer models, and tend to be a little smaller inside as well.



Hyundai Elantra

The Hyundai Elantra is a compact car starting at $18,000 for a 2016 model. The newer models perform well, with the added bonus of being sporty without the shortcomings of a sports car. Reviews of these modern models rave about the interior design.

Assuming you’re more interested in cost-efficiency rather than just the sporty look, these newer models get up to 32/40 mpg, making it great in fuel efficiency as well.

If you’re like most people and not in the market for a new model car, the older Elantras also have a lot to offer.

While the gas mileage isn’t as good as the 32/40 mpg, they still typically get in the low to high twenties depending on the year. The great thing about used Hyundai Elantras is they seem to last forever, or at least well over 100,000 and even 200,000 miles.


Hondas make cost efficient cars in two ways: fuel efficiency and insurance rates. Hondas (especially sedans) tend to have low insurance rates due to their reliability. On average, insurance for the Civic hovers around $1,400 a year.

The gas mileage of Hondas ranges between 25-35 mpg in the city and 35-40 mpg on the highway.


2017 Honda Civic Sedan

The performance, gas mileage, and style of the Honda Civic all receive great reviews. New models of the Civic—from the Sedan to the Hatchback—are sporty yet efficient.

While the repair costs of the Honda Civic aren’t as low as other models, such as the Honda Fit, they’re still among the cheapest cars to own.


2017 Honda Accord Sedan Touring

The Honda Accord also gets great reviews all around. Not only is it a nice, simple looking car, but the interior is roomy and well designed.

As with many of the cars mentioned in this list, the Honda Accord has relatively low maintenance costs. Not as low as Toyota and Kia, but they’re up there.

The gas mileage (for a new Accord) isn’t stellar, but still in the low 20s per gallon.

The one drawback for buyers is the fact that Honda Accords tend to have a high resale value, typically over $10,000. While bad for the buyer, this can be great for the seller.


It can be hard to see the big cost-saving picture when shopping for a car, which means you’re probably thinking more about how much you can afford now rather than how much you’ll save later.

That’s completely understandable. If your budget needs you to spend less right now, there are still some decent cars that you can buy for a low initial cost that won’t break your bank later in repair and fuel costs—take the Ford Fusion, for example.


Ford Fusion

Used Ford Fusions tend to run under $10,000. This can be good for buyers, but not so great for sellers. Repair costs are relatively low for Fords and every mechanic knows what to do with a Ford, so there should be no problem there.

Unfortunately, the fuel efficiency of the Ford Fusion isn’t particularly good, with only 17/26 mpg.



Subaru Impreza

Subarus are making a comeback. The model with a low initial cost and a very low used-car cost is the Impreza.

Initially, a new Impreza costs between $19,000-25,000. A used Impreza with relatively low miles (under 90,000 miles) costs between $3,000-$7,000 depending on where you’re buying.

A used Impreza typically gets 25/34 mpg, while newer models get even better mileage.

There are some common complaints that come with Subaru Impreza. Low acceleration is often noted and, while the repair costs are in the top 20 lowest, they still run high compared to other cars on this list at around $7,500 over ten years.

Cars to stay away from

There are many decent used and new cars with low overall costs, but there are also plenty that are best to stay away from if you’re on a budget.

Obviously sports cars and luxury cars are out of the running if you’re on a budget, but here are some other cars that tend not to last long and/or cost a lot to maintain.

Smart Fortwo

Smart Fortwo

Image by Michael Gil.

Smart cars are a take on European cars that just don’t seem to work here in the U.S. While the gas mileage is outstanding and the price is very low ($12,000-$15,000) you pay for it in every other regard.

As the name of the car states, the car can only fit two people, and in my personal experience, that means two shorter people that don’t need a lot of leg room.

The acceleration and size of the car make it dangerous to drive in many areas. It takes far too long to accelerate, making highway driving especially intimidating. The Smart Fortwo is small, which allows it to get through a lot of narrow streets and alleyways in European towns, but here it just annoys the other cars around you. If you live in a place where you have to drive in the snow, forget about it—this small car doesn’t stand a chance in a storm.


Most Chryslers have high maintenance and repair costs at over $10,000 over ten years.

The most cited models to avoid are the PT Cruiser and the Town & Country. The Cruiser has a unique old-timey look that some people might really like, but they perform poorly in acceleration and fuel economy.

The Town & Country is a relatively cheap minivan, but there’s a reason for that. It’s been reported as one of the least reliable cars, especially used, which can be a big problem for a person with a large family that needs a minivan. Typically there are issues with brakes, transmission, and starting.


Mitsubishi models are often low-cost, sleek and sporty cars, but that’s pretty much all they have to offer. It’s not the worst car you can buy, but you will have to repair Mitsubishis frequently, especially used versions.

Since they tend to run as sports car, Mitsubishis don’t provide a lot of room in the back and the acceleration is also a lot to be desired.


There are a lot of cars to choose from, but if you can, make sure to take in the big picture. Consider the cost of the car over a long period, not just its initial cost. If its price is especially low, there’s probably a reason why.

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About the author

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Christopher Murray is a professional personal finance and sustainability writer who enjoys writing about everything from budgeting to unique investing options like SRI and cryptocurrency. He also focuses on how sustainability is the best savings tool around. You can find his work on sites like MoneyGeek, Money Under 30, Investor Junkie, MoneyCrashers, and Time. You can find out more about Christopher on his website or via LinkedIn.