BOSTON (MainStreet) Finding a great deal on wheels involves looking at not just cars' sticker prices, but also at their expected fuel use and other costs and here are some 2014s that offer the best combinations of that.
"If Car X costs $4,000 or $5,000 more to operate over a five-year period than Car Y does, the fact that you can buy Car X for $2,000 cheaper suddenly doesn't seem like such a good deal," says Karl Brauer of Kelley Blue Book, which recently unveiled its 2014 Best 5-year Cost to Own Awards.
The annual awards honor vehicles that KBB estimates will cost the least to operate over five years after factoring in everything from insurance to financing.
Brauer says depreciation the difference between what you'll pay for a new vehicle and what you'll sell it for later in the used-car market represents the biggest factor in five-year ownership expenses.
He says models with below-average depreciation not only cost less over the long haul, but are usually good vehicles because used-car buyers wouldn't want them otherwise.
"There's no way that you can buy a car with low depreciation and not get a winner," the senior analyst says.
Read on to see which models won this year's awards in the five highest-volume classes of cars (as opposed to sport utility vehicles, minivans or pickup trucks).
KBB chose winners by analyzing expected five-year costs for depreciation, financing, fuel, insurance, maintenance, repairs and state fees such as excise taxes for all mainstream 2014 models sold in America. (The study excluded "exotic" models such as super-expensive sports cars, while KBB ranked hybrid or electric versions of the vehicles below separately.)
All pricing figures refer to KBB's Fair Purchase Price, an estimate of how much consumers are paying for a given model based on actual U.S. sales.