Here’s how to buy a car and get the most for your money

Buying a new car, truck or SUV isn’t just about the sticker price.

Think about it.

Besides the sticker – or whatever price you negotiate – you’ll be paying for fuel, insurance, repairs, maintenance, financing, fees and more as long as you own the vehicle.

“The bottom line … isn’t really the bottom line,” says Kelley Blue Book’s introduction to its annual 5-Year Cost to Own Awards. “Ownership itself carries its own costs, some are readily apparent in the form of your monthly payment. Others are not so obvious, like the rate at which your purchase is depreciating.”

Subaru Forester on curving road
Credit: Subaru via NewspressUSA
The Subaru Forester is the No. 1 compact SUV in Kelley Blue Book rankings.

Here’s how to buy a car and get the most for your money.

“Even if two vehicles are priced the same … knowing the five-year cost to own ahead of time can help you save money in the long run,” according to the automotive research website. KBB last year cited an example of two sedans with a purchase price of $19,272. After adding out-of-pocket expenses and depreciation costs for each vehicle, one cost $2,370 more than the other.

That represents almost $500 a year in savings if you keep the vehicle for five years.

This year’s Cost to Own Awards identify first-, second- and third-place vehicles in 22 categories, from subcompact SUVs to full-size pickup trucks, along with the two top brands.

Here are KBB’s ratings by segment and category:

Best brands

Subaru – non-luxury brand

Acura – luxury brand

Best SUVs

Mitsubishi Outlander
Credit: Mitsubishi via NewspressUSA
The Mitsubishi Outlander is the top three-row midsize SUV in Kelley Blue Book rankings.

Non-luxury vehicles

Subcompact SUVs

  1. Hyundai Venue
  2. Nissan Kicks
  3. Subaru Crosstrek

Compact SUVs

  1. Subaru Forester
  2. Toyota RAV4
  3. Kia Sportage

Two-row midsize SUVs

  1. Hyundai Santa Fe
  2. Subaru Outback
  3. Ford Edge

Three-row midsize SUVs

  1. Mitsubishi Outlander
  2. Kia Sorento
  3. Honda Pilot

Off-road SUV

  1. Jeep Wrangler 2-door
  2. Jeep Wrangler 4-door
  3. Toyota 4Runner

Full-size SUV

  1. Chevrolet Tahoe
  2. Toyota Sequoia
  3. Ford Expedition
Lexus RX
Credit: Lexus via NewspressUSA
The Lexus RX is the top two-row midsize luxury SUV in Kelley Blue Book rankings.

Luxury vehicles

Subcompact SUVs

  1. Lexus UX
  2. Volvo XC40
  3. BMW X1

Compact SUVs

  1. Lexus NX
  2. Acura RDX
  3. Lincoln Corsair

Two-row midsize SUVs

  1. Lexus RX
  2. Cadillac XT5
  3. Lincoln Nautilus

Three-row midsize SUVs

  1. Acura MDX
  2. Infiniti QX60
  3. Buick Enclave

Full-size SUVs

  1. Infiniti QX 80
  2. Mercedes-Benz GLS
  3. Lincoln Navigator

Best cars

Hyundai Elantra
Credit: Hyundai via NewspressUSA
The Hyundai Elantra is the top compact car in Kelley Blue Book rankings.

Compact cars

  1. Hyundai Elantra
  2. Toyota Corolla
  3. Kia Soul

Midsize cars

  1. Honda Accord
  2. Hyundai Sonata
  3. Toyota Camry

Full-size cars

  1. Chevrolet Impala
  2. Toyota Avalon
  3. Dodge Charger

Sports cars

  1. Fiat 124 Spider
  2. Subaru BRZ
  3. Toyota 86

Entry-level luxury cars

  1. Acura ILX
  2. Audi A3
  3. Acura TLX

Luxury cars

  1. Volvo V90
  2. Volvo S90
  3. Lexus GS

Hybrid cars

  1. Toyota Corolla Hybrid
  2. Toyota Prius Prime
  3. Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid

Electric vehicle

  1. Nissan Leaf
  2. Chevrolet Bolt
  3. Hyundai Kona Electric

Best trucks

Midsize pickups

  1. Toyota Tacoma
  2. Ford Ranger
  3. Jeep Gladiator

Full-size pickups

  1. Chevrolet Silverado
  2. Toyota Tundra
  3. Ram 1500


  1. Chrysler Voyager
  2. Kia Sedona
  3. Honda Odyssey

“A vehicle that costs more may in fact do a better job of retaining its value over five years than a less expensive or more heavily incentivized rival that depreciates more rapidly,” says KBB. “Buying a vehicle that delivers on resale value is a prime consideration for shoppers.”

Details about each of these vehicles and their five-year cost-to-own results are available at the KBB website.

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