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Car ownership and the associated costs are much more than the initial purchase price. CarEdge created a list of the most affordable cars based on these five categories: depreciation, insurance, maintenance and repairs, financing costs, and fuel. Bear in mind that the overall ranking is based on the combined ownership cost over five years, so cars that do not appear on the list may cost you less in fuel or maintenance over that same period but cost more overall. A 10-year ownership ranking would also have a major effect on the outcome. With all that out of the way, here are the cars with the cheapest five-year ownership costs, according to CarEdge.

Subaru Impreza 

A red 2024 Subaru Impreza RS compact car model driving past a building with marble columns
2024 Subaru Impreza RS | Subaru of America, Inc.

In the under $25,000 category, the Subaru Impreza is the largest car on the CarEdge list. Despite being very affordable, it is also the most expensive vehicle in the top five. The 2022 Impreza starts at $20,290, according to Car and Driver, making it around $2500 more expensive than the next most costly option and almost $6,000 more than the cheapest on the list, the 2022 Chevy Spark. 

Regarding ownership costs, the Impreza falls short of its competitors in nearly every category, costing $23,441 over the first five years. Fuel cost is by far its worst category compared to the other four on the list. CarEdge reports the Impreza will cost you $6,355 in fuel over the first five years. This assumes the owner will drive an average of 12,000 miles a year with a 55% city and 45% highway split. This is due to the Impreza’s larger size and its 2.0L boxer engines’ poor fuel economy (28 city mpg/36 highway mpg with the CVT, and 22 city mpg/30 highway mpg with the manual) relative to its competitors on the list. 

Mitsubishi Mirage G4

The Mitsubishi Mirage appears twice on this list. The sedan variant, called the G4 by Mitsubishi, is slightly more expensive to own over a five-year period than its hatchback sibling. Despite being identical vehicles underneath, Car and Driver reports the 2022 Mirage G4 to start at $16,845, nearly $1,000 more than the five-door hatchback model.  

The Mirage G4 racks up more cost than its hatchback counterpart in the categories of fuel, maintenance, and especially insurance. The G4 will cost $9,385 for insurance over five years—a $410 premium over the hatchback and far and away the most expensive on this list. Interestingly, the Mirage G4 does depreciate significantly less over this period than the hatch. The Mirage G4 will depreciate $4,557 vs. $5,206 for its stablemate. With every category added up, the G4 will set you back $22,534 over the first five years.

Chevrolet Spark

The 2022 Chevy Spark is the cheapest car on this list, with a starting MSRP of $14,595, reports Car and Driver. Given this undercuts the famously cheap Mirage, this figure is quite impressive, especially when you factor in the 20-hp bump from its larger four-cylinder engine.

Unsurprisingly, the Spark is pretty middle-of-the-road regarding ownership costs at $22,452—at least compared to the others on this list. The standout categories are depreciation and insurance. Over five years, the Spark will depreciate $6,090—the highest on the list. The big win for the now-discontinued Chevrolet is insurance. Costing only $7,040, the Spark is the cheapest to insure of these five vehicles.

Mitsubishi Mirage

The Mitsubishi Mirage hatchback is a more usable configuration for your cheap and economical Mitsubishi. It will only cost you $15,975, reports Car and Driver, which is less than the G4 sedan version. 

With $22,442 being the five-year cost of ownership, the Mirage hatch will ultimately cost you less than the Mirage G4. How much less? Only $92, but with excellent fuel economy, you can drive yourself to one more nice dinner if you opt for the hatch.

Kia Rio

The 2022 Kia Rio will set you back $17,545, reports Car and Driver. CarEdge says the Kia Rio will cost only $21,115 over the first five years. This makes the Kia the cheapest car on this list by over $1,000. Oddly enough, the Rio doesn’t take every category by storm to achieve this impressive lead; it just takes one by a landslide. In five years, the Rio will only depreciate $3,510. 

The Kia Rio is the cheapest and possibly the best

The Kia Rio is the clear winner as far as cost is concerned. Not only does it undercut its competition by a sizable margin, but it also comes with Kia’s 10-year/100,000 miles warranty, meaning those first few years could be even less expensive. The Rio certainly isn’t the most practical—that title goes to the Impreza—but the Kia is cheap to buy and own, and it’s not even that bad to drive.

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