The same data, however, can help you make a better decision. For each of the budget busters, we've found an alternative that holds up better in the long run. Keep in mind that, in some cases, that means we’ve suggested a car with a higher number on the sticker. But we've done it because, in the long run, the good ones pay you back.
2010 Mitsubishi Outlander SEEnlarge Photo
The redesigned Outlander is one of the best-looking small SUVS, with its new, bold grille and sharply-canted headlights -- it looks angry. It looks like other cars will stay out of its way. It's also fun to drive, and with one of the longest warranties of any SUV, it looks like a good decision...but it can be a bad one. IntelliChoice rates the Outlander a “Poor” value, with a five-ear cost of ownership ranging from$38,938 to $39, 545 -- nearly double what the sticker said. The reason? Hefty depreciation, and steep insurance costs.
Smarter Buy: The newly-redesigned GMC Terrrain looks similarly aggressive, but carries an “Above Average” rating from IntelliChoice. It'll cost you more up front, but in the end, it's less expensive to own than the least expensive Outlander. Its TCO starts at just $35,202.
2010 Suzuki Grand Vitara
2010 Suzuki Grand VitaraEnlarge Photo
Smarter Buy: The Honda CR-V is no slouch on power, and Intellichoice rates it the “Best Overall Value of the Year” in the Compact SUV Class. In every category where the Grand Vitara is more expensive than average, the CR-V is less. Its five-year TCO starts at just $30,179 -- $10,000 savings over that "cheap" car.