Kelley Blue Book Reveals the Best Budget Cars for 2015

Kelley Blue Book Reveals the Best Budget Cars for 2015

If you’ve ever owned a car, you know that the sticker price doesn’t fully convey how much money you’ll have to invest in it.

Beyond what you pay upfront, you’ll also be shelling out extra for things like gas, insurance fees and maintenance costs.

To help consumers figure out how much a new set of wheels will really set them back, auto site Kelley Blue Book calculated how much it costs to own a new, 2015-model vehicle for five years—in other words, how much it costs to buy and then operate that car.

They calculated that cost for vehicles in 22 different categories, from entry-level luxury car to minivan. While the average cost came out to $50,781, the range varied from below $30,000 to over $105,000.

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The prices they came up with reflect depreciation—a.k.a. what you paid for the car compared to the lower price you could sell it for in five years—expected fuel costs; insurance; finance fees; maintenance and repair costs; and state fees.

You might be surprised at how the math works out. “A car that might have a higher initial purchase price could end up being a better deal for your pocketbook over the next five years,” Dan Ingle, vice president of vehicle valuations for Kelley Blue Book, told MarketWatch—referring to the idea that factors like depreciation and fuel costs can vary widely even between vehicles selling for similar prices.

According to the research, subcompact cars tend to be some of the most affordable, partly because of low insurance fees and fuel costs. The budget-friendly winner of Kelley Blue Book's subcompact category is the Chevrolet Spark, which has a five-year cost-to-own of $26,905.

But if you're aiming for a slightly fancier mode of transportation—but still want to snag a deal—the most affordable high-end luxury car is the Lexus LS, with a five-year cost-to-own of $84,447.

Keen on saving the planet? Take a spin in the Toyota Prius C, the best hybrid/alternative energy car, with a five-year cost-to-own of $34,780.

And if you've got a bunch of rug rats to drive to soccer practice and ballet lessons, you might opt for the Mazda MAZDA5, winner of the minivan/van category, with a five-year-cost-to-own of $38,623.

To see the full list, head to Kelley Blue Book or MarketWatch.

Whichever type of car you’re planning to purchase, now may be the best time to do it. When the Fed raises interest rates—possibly as soon as June 2015—rates for auto loans will go up.

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