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U.S. – Top 10 Cheap Cars to Own

When it’s time to buy a new car and desperation comes calling, all other priorities peel away, leaving price alone to govern the decision. Most cars aren’t good investments — the only return you’ll earn from owning one is a way to get around. But simply buying the cheapest car isn’t necessarily the cheapest route. High-end cars may depreciate less, but buying a vehicle with the lowest possible sticker price is one of the best ways to minimize a car’s cumulative drain on personal finances. That’s because owners will never recoup the full price paid for a new car after factoring in all of the expenses associated with owning and maintaining it.

Think of a car as a “good investment” in terms of how much money you have left after buying it to invest in financial products that actually do give good returns. Cars—even the affordable ones—are expensive to own and operate. So we went in search of the answer to an important question: What is the cheapest car to buy and own? Fuel is an obvious consideration, but insurance can’t be ignored, either. Here they are – the least expensive 2010 cars on sale in America. (All prices are MSRP (sticker price) plus destination charge.)

Hyundai Elantra

Base MSRP: $14,865

EPA Combined Mileage: 29 mpg

Three-Year Fuel Cost: $3194

Three-Year Insurance Cost: $3527

Total Three-Year Cost: $21,586

A manual transmission is the short-changed buyer’s best friend, as manuals are typically $1000 or so cheaper than automatics and, except in the case of today’s most bleeding-edge transmissions, are more fuel efficient to boot. This Hyundai is a perfect example, as the only manual transmission available in the entire 2010 Elantra sedan lineup is in the base Blue model tuned for—you guessed it—maximum fuel efficiency. Lower-rolling-resistance tires, a more efficient alternator, and electric power steering—instead of hydraulic—also aid fuel economy. We here at C/D like manuals because they increase driver involvement, too, an area in which the Elantra sedan could use some improvement, so there’s a bonus.

Kia Forte Sedan

Base MSRP: $14,390

EPA Combined Mileage: 28 mpg

Three-Year Fuel Cost: $3308

Three-Year Insurance Cost: $3835

Total Three-Year Cost: $21,533

The design of this model is based on one Koup concept shown at last year’s edition of the New York Auto Show. The appearance of this model is dominated by lines leaves the sharp lights. Besides these optical blocks, the front grille oo exhibit sharp and two oversized air inlets, all these elements being imbinatre a narrow profile. Forte Koup‘s appearance exudes so aggressivness, and has a level of elegance typical of a coupe. Is equipped with a propeller-cylinder 2.0-liter four that develops 156 bhp and 195 Nm of torque. It is equipped with CVVT variable valve timing system. SX version of the 2010 Kia Forte Koup‘s features a 2.4-liter propellant which develops 173 hp and 227 Nm of torque.

Suzuki SX4 Sedan

Base MSRP: $14,094

EPA Combined Mileage: 26 mpg

Three-Year Fuel Cost: $3563

Three-Year Insurance Cost: $3830

Total Three-Year Cost: $21,487

In its more expensive (by about $2500) and better-equipped hatchback form, the 2010 Suzuki SX4 is one of the most underrated cars on the market. Under the hood, Suzuki will have a 1.6 liter petrol engine which develops 107 hp. There would, at least initially, a diesel version. SX4 sedan borrows from the previous off-road big brother.

Kia Soul

Base MSRP: $13,995

EPA Combined Mileage: 28 mpg

Three-Year Fuel Cost: $3308

Three-Year Insurance Cost: $3760

Total Three-Year Cost: $21,063

The small-car explosion that’s been going on over the past few years has reached the point at which we start to see automakers investing in interesting and fun small cars and not simply inexpensive ones. The 2010 Kia Soul belongs to both groups. Its presence here is testimony to its affordability—even in the long run—and its appearance immediately identifies it as something different. Kia offers an extensive menu of customization options—including stripe packages, wheels, and body add-ons—and a Scion-esque stream of limited editions sporting exclusive paint and interior trimmings. In the often dreary small-car segment, the Soul stands out.

Toyota Yaris Three-Door Hatchback

Base MSRP: $13,355

EPA Combined Mileage: 32 mpg

Three-Year Fuel Cost: $2895

Three-Year Insurance Cost: $3597

Total Three-Year Cost: $19,847

The 2010 Toyota Yaris is often cited as an example of why the Smart Fortwo needn’t exist. About $1000 more expensive, it feels and looks more like a real car. Toyota Yaris ’10 is available with the engine 1.0 VVT-i 69 bhp, 1.3 Dual VVT-i 100 hp with Stop & Start system and 1.4 D-4D 90 bhp with a diesel particulate filter, all with CO2 emissions below 120 g/km and fuel consumption of less than 5 liters of fuel per 100 km, technology Toyota Optimal Drive. The two most powerful engines can be combined with sequential shift M-MT, but only into Sol Prices start from 10,500 in ’10 Yaris 1.0 VVT-i three-door base and 16,700 euros to get the ’10 Yaris 1.4 D G-4D 5-door M-MT.

Kia Rio Sedan

Base MSRP: $12,390

EPA Combined Mileage: 31 mpg

Three-Year Fuel Cost: $2988

Three-Year Insurance Cost: $4000

Total Three-Year Cost: $19,378

In a comparison test of econocars, we placed the 2010 Kia Rio third, finding it actually kind of cute and almost fun to drive—certainly when considered in the spectrum of under-$15,000 hatchbacks. Under the hood of the new Rio will host facelift 1.4-liter gasoline engine and 97 horsepower 1.5 CRDi diesel engine with four cylinders and 110 horsepower.

Chevrolet Aveo Sedan

Base MSRP: $12,685

EPA Combined Mileage: 30 mpg

Three-Year Fuel Cost: $3088

Three-Year Insurance Cost: $3536

Total Three-Year Cost: $19,309

Daewoo lives on outside our shores and sends an undercover agent here as the 2010 Chevrolet Aveo. The little Chevy  has improved dramatically in the past few years, but if you’re drawn to this little four-door, might we suggest waiting another year or so? A replacement is due in 2011, and it should be wholly more exciting than the current car while being similarly thrifty.

Smart Fortwo Coupe

Base MSRP: $12,635

EPA Combined Mileage: 36 mpg

Three-Year Fuel Cost: $2573

Three-Year Insurance Cost: $3279

Total Three-Year Cost: $18,487

Think of the Smart as the perfect cure for parallelparkusphobia, or as a motorcycle for people with chronic vertigo. The 2010 Smart Fortwo Coupe actually is a good idea: Just look around and notice how few cars actually have more than one person in them. It’s a strong argument for the smallest possible vehicle, period. Still, we fall short of wholehearted endorsement—heck, even half- or quarter-hearted endorsement—for one reason alone: The sole transmission choice is a total bummer. If all you want is small, cheap, and fuel efficient, get a Suzuki Hayabusa superbike. It, unlike the Smart, at least will pop wheelies.

Hyundai Accent Three-Door Hatchback

Base MSRP: $10,690

EPA Combined Mileage: 31 mpg

Three-Year Fuel Cost: $2988

Three-Year Insurance Cost: $4351

Total Three-Year Cost: $18,029

The 2010 Hyundai Accent is something of a darling at our office. It’s a delightfully tossable little blob, and there’s something liberating about driving around in a brand-new car with a replacement price of less than $11,000. But the Accent illustrates an interesting trend we noticed in researching this roundup: Korean cars tend to have higher insurance rates than similarly priced and matched cars from other countries. The Accent is actually the cheapest car on this list in purchase price, yet the Accent’s insurance cost over three years is nearly $750 higher than the Versa’s. So remember, if your decision will be based strictly on dollars, your insurance agent can be more important than your salesperson.

Nissan Versa 1.6 Base

Base MSRP: $10,710

EPA Combined Mileage: 29 mpg

Three-Year Fuel Cost: $3194

Three-Year Insurance Cost: $3602

Total Three-Year Cost: $17,506

The 2010 Nissan Versa is a competent and capacious car in any trim, and even people with no criterion but price of entry might be a bit shocked at how little a base Versa includes. Both the engine (1.6 liters) and the wheels (14 inches) are smaller on the ultra-cheap 1.6 than they are on other Versas. It has no ABS and no power locks, mirrors, or windows. Not even a radio is standard. The transmission is manual, Nissan skimps on the seat padding, and even the clock is gone. If all you want is cheap, then all you get is this. It’s still not a bad package, but if you want the cheapest car possible, for goodness’ sake, buy used.

via | Yahoo! Autos

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