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Less Can Cost More, Says Consumer Reports




Sometimes a bargain isn't. A car that may look inexpensive, up front, just might wind up costing you more in the long-run, warns Consumer Reports magazine, in its Annual April Auto Issue.

Once you add in factors like maintenance, fuel costs, insurance, interest and depreciation, the actual cost of ownership can be significantly different than what many car buyers would expect. The magazine notes that with its $17,500 sticker price, a Mitsubishi Lancer is a whopping $5,000 less than the smaller Mini Cooper -- at least when you first drive it home. But over the typical, five-year ownership cycle, the equation looks quite a bit different. When you add in repairs and other factors, the Mitsubishi actually will cost about $3,000 more, Consumer Reports calculates.

Toyotas score quite well, according to the magazine. While the Highlander SUV is $3,000 more, initially, than a comparable Ford Explorer, the Japanese SUV will save an owner $6,500 over the long-run. And lower fuel costs are one of the main reasons why the Prius hybrid will save an owner $2,000, after five years, versus a Chevrolet Cobalt, even though the sticker price of the Chevy is $7,500 less.

But one big surprise comes from the luxury side of the Toyota line-up. Its Lexus brand has relatively high maintenance costs, so over that same, five-year cycle, an ES350 will rack up a full $2,300 more in repair costs than a Lincoln MKZ.

In working out the numbers, CR found that the value of the average new vehicles depreciates 65 percent over five years, so even a few percentage points can mean a significant difference for an owner. Fuel costs vary widely, CR editors note, even among comparably-sized vehicles. A Dodge Nitro will use $2,000 more fuel than a Toyota RAV4 V-6, for example. Maintenance and repairs will typically add up to 4 percent of the cost of ownership, but also varies significantly.

The magazine suggests that motorists consider all factors, rather than just the sticker price, when comparing the cost of a new car, truck or crossover.
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Comments (4)
  1. Lets see, the ES350 is the same as a V6 camry, so why should it cost more to maintain? You could take it to any Toyota dealer and they could do the maintenance and it would satisfy the Warranty requirements.

    I take mine to a Toyota dealer and they do the Oil change and Tire rotation and all of the inspections for less than $50...

    Also, my son has a RAV4 V6 with the same engine as my ES350 and he is constantly telling me what a great car it is.
     
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  2. One need only look at a comparibly equiped 4, 5 or 6 year old Toyota Tacoma and a Ranger, S10 or Dakota for validation of the enormous disparity in residual value.
     
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  3. OK, so how much does the Prius Hybrid cost when you factor in replacing the battery pack? I could be wrong, but I'd be tempted to bet the Cobalt would win at that point by a considerable sum.
     
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  4. You couldn't give me another Toyota after suffering throught he FAMOUS TOYOTA ENGINE SLUDGE FIASCO. I don't care what the miniscule extra cost for the competitors vehicles are. Piece of mind knowing that I'm going to arrive at my destination is reason enough to avoid Toyota altogether. I have a Dodge Ram with over 200k trouble free miles on it. The Camry I had blew its engine at 12k. Toyota quality right?
     
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