10 cheapest cars to own and operate in 2012

Look beyond the sticker price

A good deal of information must be sifted through to get down to the nitty-gritty on the 10 cheapest cars to own. If you want to know what owning a car really costs, you must look far beyond the purchase price.

In arriving at this list of 10 cheapest cars, Edmunds.com used its True Cost to Own calculator and included all of the costs of new-car ownership, such as depreciation, financing interest, insurance premiums, fuel cost, maintenance and repair costs. Taxes, fees and any federal tax credits also were included. Edmunds assumed the cars would be driven 15,000 miles per year for five years, and the list is for cars as of July 2012.

Because financing rates, insurance costs and even fuel costs vary according to the individual and geographical area, the True Cost to Own calculator is a tool for comparing costs of different cars you might be considering.

You can arrive at the estimated five-year cost of any car using this calculator. Although the list is based on national cost averages, your total cost of owning the car will be based on average costs in your geographical area.


Kia Rio LX five-door

  • Price: $13,660
  • Gas mileage: 7.6 L per 100 km city/ 5.3 L per 100 km highway
  • Five-year cost to maintain: $31,714
  • Cost per km: 42 cents

Redesigned for 2012, the Kia Rio is more stylish than its bargain-basement price might indicate. The LX is at the bottom of the Rio pecking order where every model gets the same 138-horsepower, 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine. As priced here, it uses a six-speed manual transmission to get power to the front wheels.

Despite being the entry-level version, the LX comes with air conditioning, trip computer, 60/40 split-folding back seat and a four-speaker audio system with satellite radio capability, CD player and iPod interface.

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