It’s common knowledge that if you buy a cheap new car, you’ll pay for it in other ways — from spending more on insurance and repairs to having it break down sooner, which forces you to buy yet another new car.
But common knowledge is wrong. At least this year, and for the first year.
Cars.com recently released a list of the cheapest new cars to buy in 2014. It combined two big factors: How much the car costs, and how much you’ll likely spend on gas (using a complicated formula we won’t get into here).
But the auto website didn’t calculate insurance and repairs. So Debt.com pulled data from two other sources…
- Edmunds.com provides an interactive tool that shows you how much it costs to own a car, including the cost of maintenance and repairs over a five-year span. Just fill out the “True Cost to Own” section.
- Insure.com provides national averages different cars. Just fill out the information in the blue box to check out different rates. (Obviously, your real price varies according to gender, geography, and whether you drive like a bat out of hell.)
Surprisingly, when you combine the cost of insurance, gas, and maintenance for the first year, the cheapest new cars to buy are still the cheapest new cars to own. Which is great, because a report from car appraiser Kelley Blue Book says the cost of a new car has risen 1.5 percent since last year.
So below is the Cars.com list of 2014’s cheapest cars, with data from Edmunds and Insure.com mashed in. That’ll give you the big picture of the true first-year costs for these vehicles. Here they are, working our way down to the very cheapest…
You’ll like this car if: You love hybrids but hate their sticker price. Hybrid prices have come down a lot over the years, but they’re still more expensive than their gas-powered cousins. The Prius C isn’t just fuel efficient (53 mpg city, 46 highway), it’s the cheapest hybrid you can buy right now. Plus, it’s got a great multimedia system (with touch-screen navigation and access to apps like Pandora and Bing) that comes standard.
You won’t like this car if: you have a need for speed. The Prius C is ridiculously slow, taking 11.5 seconds to reach 60 mph.
- Car price: $19,890
- Insurance price: $1,396
- Fuel price: $990
- Maintenance and repairs: $48
- FIRST-YEAR TOTAL: $22,324
5. Scion iQ
You’ll like this car if: You need to fit your car into tight spaces. At 10 feet long, it’s the smallest car on this list.
You won’t like this car if: You want to drive with more than one friend. Although Scion says the iQ can fit four, it starts to feel like a clown car the more people you pack into it.
- Car price: $16,420
- Insurance price: $1,259
- Fuel price: $1,338
- Maintenance and repairs: $42
- FIRST-YEAR TOTAL: $19,059
You’ll like this car if: You want safety without sacrificing driving features. The Yaris offers an impressive nine airbags in a tiny space. Plus, it has a great bluetooth system.
You won’t like this car if: You’re 6 feet tall. It’s not the most spacious of cars, but the seats don’t have height adjustments, and there’s only three feet of headroom. The steering wheel doesn’t adjust either. So if you don’t fit, you’re out of luck.
- Car price: $16,050
- Insurance price: $1,304
- Fuel price: $1,500
- Maintenance and repairs: $42
- FIRST-YEAR TOTAL: $18,896
You’ll like this car if: You want all of the engine and multimedia features of a car twice its size and twice its price. The Fiesta includes a “MyFord” system with voice-controlled audio and touch-screen display, and it even reads your text messages aloud to you while you drive. The Fiesta also has great acceleration for a subcompact.
You won’t like this car if: You need the extra leg room — or any room. You only have three feet of leg room (similar to the Scion iQ) but you can’t pull down the back seat for more room the way you can with the iQ.
- Car price: $14,925
- Insurance price: $1,254
- Fuel price: $1,597
- Maintenance and repairs: $303
- FIRST-YEAR TOTAL: $18,079
You’ll like this car if: You’re a family man. It’s has the most spacious interior on this list, with more than 3.5 feet of legroom in the front and back seat. It’s also fuel efficient at 35 mpg (40 mpg highway).
You won’t like this car if: You crave the latest technology. Let’s just say you’re still rolling down your own windows and manually adjusting your side mirrors. The Versa doesn’t offer much as far as a sound system goes (Standard AM/FM/CD) and you’ll have to splurge for a navigation system, too.
- Car price: $13,800
- Insurance price: $1,305
- Fuel price: $1,415
- Maintenance and repairs: $274
- FIRST-YEAR TOTAL: $16,794
You’ll like this car if: You want to be tiny enough to fit in small spaces, but large enough to pack in a family. The Spark is compact (12 feet long) but fitting the allotted four passengers isn’t ridiculous as it is in the Scion iQ. You have about three feet of leg space in both front and rear seats.
You won’t like this car if: You spend a lot of time on the highway. According to Kelley Blue Book, when they test drove the car, it felt jumpy at higher speeds. You also hear a lot of wind and road noise through the car, so highways may not be the most comfortable place to drive.
- Car price: $12,995
- Insurance price: $1,218
- Fuel price: $1,456
- Maintenance and repairs: $40
- FIRST-YEAR TOTAL: $15,709
Obviously, these stats don’t tell you anything about the “long-term ownership costs,” as Forbes calls it, which are on the rise, too. But this is a great start if you want to buy new but not go broke.