A RELIABLE RETURN ON INVESTMENT
Car shoppers know that their vehicle isn't just a means of conveyance: A new car is a valuable investment that requires short-term research and long-term planning. While it's great to have a car that performs well during the test drive, it's better to buy a vehicle that won't lose all that much value when it drives off the lot and won't swamp you with repair costs once you get it home. The folks at Kelley Blue Book regularly test new cars on their 5-year cost to own, looking at their depreciation, expected fuel costs, financing and insurance fees, maintenance and repair costs, and state fees, before naming the best vehicles for your buck. This year, they've named winners in 22 categories and have provided the estimated cost of owning that vehicle for half a decade. The following vehicles are not only the winners, but also some of the close runners-up for vehicle reliability and retained value.
Related: The Cheapest New Cars and Trucks of 2019
5-year cost to own: $29,012
The boxy surf wagon had numerous imitators back when it was sharing ad space with hamsters and LMFAO, but this hatch's 10-year powertrain warranty, available driver assistance technology, and combined 29.5 miles per gallon make it a steal. “The 2019 Kia Soul is a feature-filled small car as appealing to first-time buyers as it is empty-nesters,” KBB's expert review says. “Despite numerous styling upgrades over the years, the 2019 Kia Soul still shares a common shape with the first-generation car.”
5-year cost to own: $29,480
Light and speedy, the Veloster gets by just fine with a 1.6-liter engine and 132 horsepower, though a 201-horsepower turbo upgrade doesn't hurt. It looks more like a sports car than a retro subcompact, though its 31 miles per gallon and 10-year warranty are more frugal touches than its alloy wheels, 7-inch touchscreen entertainment system with game console capability, or Blue Link telematics and roadside assistance.
5-year cost to own: $34,544
The Accord's upgrade for the 2018 model year was a huge deal, but its standard suite of safety and driver-assistance features known as Honda Sensing, 38 mpg of highway mileage, and spacious interior keep customers coming back. “Whether you just want a reliable, easy-to-drive, efficient yet energetic commuter, a driver-oriented manual-transmission sedan with a potent turbo engine, or a hybrid that attains nearly 50 mpg, the Accord delivers,” the Kelley Blue Book review notes.
5-year cost to own: $34,955
This is yet another surprisingly spacious sedan. There's 106.1 cubic feet of cabin space, 35.6 inches of rear legroom and the back seat bench can sit three adults comfortably. Throw in the Blue Link telematics system, backup camera, touchscreen audio, steering wheel mounted controls, Bluetooth and optional dual-zone automatic climate control, and you're getting a loaded road-trip vehicle. Hyundai's 5 years or 60,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage and 10 years or 100,000 miles of powertrain protection always help keep its vehicles high in these rankings.
5-year cost to own: $45,101
For a car with a starting price around $28,000, the Impala throws in a lot for the money. At 200 inches long and with an available 305-horsepower V6, the Impala is not only a boat of a vehicle, but a throwback to full-sized muscle cars. Throw in a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, and it's about as modern as a full-sized beast can get.
5-year cost to own: $45,612
It has muscle-car heritage and a retro design, and it won't let go of its past. It's still a rear-wheel-drive vehicle (though all-wheel-drive is available) and its engines range from a 292-horsepower V6 and to a 707-horsepower V8. In fact, its Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a rearview camera and rear parking sensors, are among the vehicle's few nods to modernity.
5-year cost to own: $37,208
Acura actually lowered the price of this car by $2,200 this year despite refreshing the interior and adding standard AcuraWatch advanced safety features. With keyless entry, push-button start, dual-zone climate control, heated front seat, forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control, the ILX is replete with luxury features. However, it still gets a combined 29.5 miles per gallon out of a 2.4-liter, 201-horsepower, four-cylinder engine. “Unlike its rivals and seemingly every other new small car on the market, the ILX has bucked the turbo trend and remains powered by a slightly larger naturally aspirated engine,” the KBB review says. “We like it.”
5-year cost to own: $44,630
Mercedes dropped a 2-liter four-cylinder engine into this baby Benz to get 32 miles per gallon of combined highway and city mileage. While it produces just 208 horsepower, a 375-horsepower all-wheel-drive version with sports suspension and racing brakes is available. However, the touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth and HD radio, the smartphone app with five years of free features and the radar-based collision, attention and braking assistance are strong standard features for an entry-level car.
5-year cost to own: $61,188
The GS starts below $50,000 when no German competitor does, and still gives drivers a turbocharged four-cylinder, 10-way power-adjustable seats for both front seats, LED ambient lighting, and a one-touch power moonroof, 12-speaker audio system, and Lexus Safety System+ (including All-Speed Dynamic Cruise Control, Intelligent High Beams, and Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection) — all standard. If you want the 311 horsepower of the $51,800 GS 350 or the 467-horsepower V8 of the GS F ($85,350), you won't be disappointed. "Our time in the V6-powered GS 350 left us with a positive impression of a smart midsize luxury sedan delivering competent handling, impressive acceleration, a smooth ride and, when equipped with the F Sport package, thrilling cornering abilities,” KBB's review noted.
5-year cost to own: $61,277
Coming in just over the cost of the GS, the Q70 comes standard- or long-wheelbase models with rear- or all-wheel drive and a choice of V6 or V8 powertrains. However, even with an 8-inch touchscreen, Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection, Forward Emergency Braking, and Backup Collision Intervention, KBB notes that the Q70 still lacks some of the more modern features of its competitors.
FIAT 124 SPIDER
5-year cost to own: $38,487
This convertible — one of our top picks for 2018 convertibles— is a Mazda Miata with a more European look. It has nothing to do with the initial version of the 124, sold from 1966 to 1985, but has the same 160-horsepower engine as the Miata with different body panels. That said, the Miata is a reliable automobile, and the Japanese engine in this Italian body is similarly durable. “While it is true the Fiat 124 Spider adds an additional 100 pounds over its Miata twin, there is no great detriment to the car's overall handling prowess,” the KBB review points out. “Precise steering requiring only the slightest input gives the driver a feeling of total control and confidence, growing more playful as speeds climb and asphalt twists.”
5-year cost to own: $38,599
Jointly developed by both Toyota and Subaru and manufactured solely by Subaru, the BRZ and the Toyota 86 only differ in paint, body configurations, and other minor details. However, that rear-wheel-drive and 2.0-liter 200-horsepower boxer engine are what keep knowledgeable performance-car enthusiasts coming back for more.
TOYOTA PRIUS C
5-year cost to own: $31,932
What's the C for? Compact? City? Well, this $22,450 hatchback gets 48 miles per gallon in the latter, but gets 45 mpg combined because it's the former. The fact that it still has 17.1 cubic feet of cargo area and Toyota's Safety Sense C — forward-collision alert with pedestrian detection and automatic braking, automatic high beams, and lane-departure warning — makes the Prius C a value even before you factor in its mileage.
HYUNDAI IONIQ PLUG-IN
5-year cost to own: $32,044
Topping out at 52 miles per gallon, the Ioniq represents Hyundai's leap into the hybrid and electric vehicle market. However, this plug-in hybrid features parts made of sugar cane, volcanic rock and recycled plastic, as well as a 7-inch touchscreen, Apple Play, Android Audio, Blue Line telematics, navigation, wireless device charging, heated seats, leather steering wheel, sunroof, and sensor-based safety features. While the plug-in's mileage fits somewhere between the standard hybrid Ioniq and the electric version, it's a happy medium for buyers.
5-year cost to own: $35,321
The Leaf got a big overhaul last year, but still managed a starting price of $30,800. Its 147-horsepower motor gets 150 miles of range on a single charge and can get can get 80 percent of its charge in just 40 minutes on a quick charger. Best of all, Nissan Leaf still qualifies for a full $7,500 federal tax credit and comes with a 7-inch infotainment touch screen, push-button start, emergency automatic braking, and e-Pedal technology, which allows you to slow the car and help charge the battery simply by lifting your foot off the accelerator pedal. Later this year, the Leaf e+ will add more power and a projected range of 226 miles. "With its long range, on-board fast-charging system and extensive dealer network, Nissan's 2019 Leaf EV may entice doubters to try an EV for the first time,” KBB says. “The Leaf is snappy right off the line and has excellent mid-range passing power."
KIA SOUL EV
5-year cost to own: $35,767
It's basically the standard Soul, but with 111 miles of electric range. Meanwhile, the Soul EV's charging port is stowed away behind a solid grille in the front, leaving onlookers none the wiser to your boxy little wagon's electric innards.
5-year cost to own: $31,727
The Mazda CX-3 has a base price just over $20,000 and it gets up to 34 mpg in front-wheel drive and 32 mpg in all-wheel drive. Its 148-horsepower engine doesn't look like much, but it got KBB to note that "the CX-3 remains one of the most engaging choices among its peers, thanks to a rare athletic quality in the chassis and an equally exceptional classiness to the cabin."
5-year cost to own: $31,790
Meet the growing subcompact SUV segment. The Nissan Kicks was all new in 2018 and carries a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine, and 125 horsepower in 2019. Its 33.5 mpg combined are impressive for a compact SUV, while standard forward collision warning, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, push-button start, a 7-inch touchscreen, Siri Eyes Free, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto make for a lot of perks for $18,540. Though 92 cubic feet of passenger space isn't a lot for an SUV, 32.3 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats down give buyers what they're looking for.
5-year cost to own: $32,265
At $20,520, the HR-V toes the line of affordability for a subcompact, but you're getting a lot of room for that money. There's more than 100 cubic feet of passenger volume and nearly 59 cubic feet of total cargo space with the seats down. Meanwhile, a 1.8-liter, four-cylinder, 141-horsepower engine and automatic transmission are available standard, as are a 60/40 split second-row seat, multi-angle rearview camera, 5-inch LCD screen, USB audio link, and halogen headlights. It may be built like an SUV, but its 30 mpg are as efficient as a small car.
5-year cost to own: $35,321
Subaru's smallest crossover is a reminder of the Subaru Outback's earliest days as a wagon. However, with 40 inches of driver headroom, 43 inches of legroom and combined 52 cubic feet of cargo space with the seats down, it's surprisingly spacious. The standard multi-function display, Starlink touchscreen communications and entertainment package and rearview camera are fine, but it's the nearly 30 mpg combined that provide it some extra value.
5-year cost to own: $35,864
Completely redesigned for this year, the Tucson comes with more standard equipment, including forward-collision mitigation and lane-keeping assistance. Driver-attention monitoring is optional in the top trim, but the infotainment system is upgraded with a new 7-inch touch screen featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. Surprisingly large for a compact, the Tucson holds its own in this category.
HYUNDAI SANTA FE
Best Midsize Crossover (2 Row)
5-year cost to own: $36,984
Completely reworked for 2019, the Santa Fe starts at $24,000 and now includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto technology and active safety systems like blind-spot monitoring and automatic emergency braking. A turbocharged engine, heated and ventilated seats, Infinity premium audio system, and head-up display are all available, but you'll get a warranty that covers 10 years or 100,000 miles on the powertrain regardless.
5-year cost to own: $38,192
This has been a lacrosse parent's car for its entire existence, but the road from wagon to Crossover has added the EyeSight driver-assist system (adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, pre-collision and reverse automatic braking) as a standard feature. However, it's the standard all-wheel drive that keeps buyers coming back years later.
5-year cost to own: $38,058
The Mitsubishi Outlander, at $24,695, is about as inexpensive as a seven-passenger SUV gets. The standard four-cylinder engine gets up to 30 mpg, but a plug-in hybrid version bumps that to 74 miles per gallon equivalent. No matter which version you choose, the warranty covers 10 years or 100,000 miles on the powertrain, while standard features include standard heated front seats and dual-zone climate control.
5-year cost to own: $40,653
Much like the Mitsubishi, there's a 10-year, 100,000-mile warranty and three rows of seating for a starting price of less than $30,000. However, Kia has added active safety options like lane-keep assist and a driver-monitoring system to make the Sorento seem a bit less “budget.”
5-year cost to own: $59,626
The Nissan Armada boasts 8-passenger seating, 8,500 pounds of towing capacity and impressive off-road credentials. Standard safety features include adaptive cruise control, forward-collision mitigation with automatic emergency braking, and a feature called "Rear Door Alert," which helps ensure you didn't leave any precious cargo in the back seat, such as pets or kids. With a V8 engine and a lofty 9.1 inches of ground clearance, the Armada provides a lot of truck-frame SUV for its $48,000 starting price.
5-year cost to own: $60,588
The Tahoe is massive, with 15.3 cubic feet of cargo with all the seats up and 94.7 cubic feet of maximum cargo room. It has Wi-Fi, room for nine people, a ton of stability features, and excellent towing capacity. Even if it doesn't function as an apartment on wheels, it can help you tow one.
5-year cost to own: $63,041
This lumbering SUV gets 19 miles per gallon of combined mileage, but it has 85.5 cubic feet of cargo space with all the seats down and is unkillable. There are bigger SUVs and engines out there, but for sheer durability, the Expedition is tough to beat.
5-year cost to own: $42,617
At $32,000, the UX is the cheapest vehicle Lexus makes, and its standard features still include the Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 and its adaptive radar cruise control, an automatic emergency braking system that can detect pedestrians in front of the car, lane-departure warning with steering assist, and a system that reads road signs. There's a hybrid version, but even the standard model tops out at 37 mpg. "Neither of these models will win many races nor get you very far off-road. But that's not the point of the UX. Where Lexus' smallest SUV excels is tooling around the city, which it does comfortably," KBB notes.
5-year cost to own: $45,822
All new for 2019, the XC40 packs a whole bunch of Volvo safety features into its tiniest, least-expensive SUV. With a combined 27 mpg, a four-year 50,000-mile warranty, a 248-horsepower four-cylinder engine, 8.3 inches of ground clearance and standard (yes, standard) all-wheel drive, the XC40 is trying to make Volvo a little younger by making Subaru, Mercedes-Benz and others a bit more nervous.
5-year cost to own: $43,749
Starting just shy of $37,500, this compact SUV still has standard features including keyless entry and ignition, dual-zone climate control, automatic high beams, and Apple CarPlay integration at no extra charge. Standard safety technology includes forward-collision sensing with automatic braking and pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control that can bring your NX to a complete stop. Meanwhile, there's a turbocharged 235-horsepower gasoline engine or a 33-mpg hybrid version. “The accent is on comfort rather than handling, with light and rather numb steering,” KBB points out, “yet the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine in the 2019 NX 300 is smooth and quite lively, even if it does sound a little grainy at higher revs. The hybrid version has the extra weight to deal with, so tranquil progress is a more realistic desire.”
5-year cost to own: $49,380
Completely revamped for 2019, the QX50 throws in a whole bunch of safety and driver-assistance systems and some additional space for under $40,000. Now front-wheel drive with optional all-wheel drive, the QX50's VC-Turbo four-cylinder manages 268 horsepower and uses its ProPILOT driver-assistance system to take some of the guesswork and danger out of the drive.
5-year cost to own: $49,885
While the 2019 Lexus RX now has a 3-row version with its L trim level, KBB recognizes that it's still known primarily as a two-row model. But its quiet cabin, its below $45,000 starting price, and its 3.5-liter, 295 horsepower V6 with optional all-wheel-drive all make it a serious contender for a luxury car-buyer's dollars.
5-year cost to own: $52,693
Formerly the Lincoln MKX, the Nautilus now looks a lot more like the massive Lincoln Navigator — though its 2.0-liter, 250-horsepower turbocharged engine makes it just slightly more efficient. There's also a 355-horsepower V6 to choose from, but 3,500 pounds of towing capacity, CoPilot driver assistance, and available leather interior and 22-way adjustable seats complement either engine.
5-year cost to own: $51,829
The sub-$45,000 starting price hides a 295-horsepower V6 engine, leather upholstery, soft-touch surfaces and a 360-degree around-view camera for parking. It also features a wide array of driver assists including blind spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, and collision avoidance with automatic braking. Conveniences like a motion-activated rear liftgate and easy folding and sliding second-row seat that allows access to the cargo area and spacious third row don't hurt the cause, either.
5-year cost to own: $55,201
Basically a fancy Chevrolet Traverse, the Enclave ditched its egg-shaped design in 2018 for a 3.6-liter 310-horsepower V6, engine, a new nine-speed automatic transmission, available all-wheel drive and a towing package that allows it to pull up to 5,000 pounds. It has leather trim, a heated steering wheel, and other Buick frills, but doesn't sacrifice any brawn.
5-year cost to own: $55,636
The trademark Volvo safety features like Pilot Assist semi-autonomous driving system, blind-spot monitoring, auto-dimming mirrors, Oncoming Mitigation by Braking, road sign information, lane departure warning, and electronic stability control all come standard. But with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, a 360 camera, and a voice-activated, Bluetooth connected Sensus information and entertainment system pushing your music through a subwoofer built into the car's frame and a speaker system modeled after the acoustics of the Gothenburg Concert Hall, you might want to ease up on those 400 horsepower and take your time.
5-year cost to own: $71,909
It starts at nearly $67,000, but can cost as much as $92,000. Its 400-horsepower V8 and 8-passenger seating make it substantial, but a truck body that can tow up to 8,500 pounds gives it its brawn. Meanwhile, a cabin upgrade last year gave it quilted leather seats, real wood veneers, and a Hydraulic Body Motion Control suspension system. It doesn't skimp on the features, nor should it at this level.
5-year cost to own: $80,257
This nearly $90,000 Lexus is no soft luxury SUV. A luxury version of the Toyota Land Cruiser, the LX and its 5.7-liter, 383-horsepower V8, 7,000 pounds of towing and 6,000 pounds of curb weight are formidable by any measure. Meanwhile, you have manual locking differentials, Crawl Controls with turning assistance, height control that raises the suspension up to 3 inches to accommodate rough roads and terrain selection with rock, rock and dirt, mogul, loose rock, or mud and sand modes that makes it a viable off-road luxury option.
5-year cost to own: $36,053
That iconic Jeep look and that rock-solid off-road reputation dates back to World War II, but putting it all in a package that costs less than $30,000 has made it the most accessible off-roader for decades. However, despite the noise of the soft top, options including a Uconnect infotainment system and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility, advanced safety including forward-collision warning and adaptive cruise control, and an available fuel-efficient turbocharged four-cylinder engine have improved the Wrangler's ride. “What really surprised us was the new Wrangler’s civility around town. The improved steering, 5-link suspension, improved body mounts, retuned shocks, and even the drivetrain have all been upgraded for an around-town experience that belies this SUV's off-road ability,” KBB says.
JEEP WRANGLER UNLIMITED
5-year cost to own: $37,741
The only SUV that could come close to a Wrangler's reliability is a Wrangler. This is basically a stretched Wrangler with more room for passengers and cargo, but it doesn't take an off-roading enthusiast to see the drastic difference between this SUV in Jeep clothing and the original-recipe Wrangler.
5-year cost to own: $42,271
This SUV started out as a Toyota pickup simply converted into a “Trekker” by Winnebago in the early 1980s. In its first incarnation, it looked like a Toyota pickup with a fiberglass shell over its bed and even had a tailgate much like a pickup truck. It finally got a solid body in 1989, but didn't start resembling a modern SUV until 1995. Taking cues from Toyota's high-end Land Cruiser, Toyota made the four-wheel drive easier to control and added interior features like improved sound systems and controls. The four-cylinder engine in the originals flat-out can't be killed, but even the newer versions live up to their lineage: It's one of the longest-lasting vehicles on the road.
5-year cost to own: $36,053
At $25,700, it was already king of the small pickups. But with Toyota's Safety Sense suite of safety features, Entune infotainment with 6-inch touchscreen, hill start, 1,500 pounds of payload capacity, and 3,500 pounds of towing capacity, Tacoma is a lot of truck for the price.
5-year cost to own: $39,249
In its original incarnation, the $21,300 Colorado was an Isuzu with Chevrolet badges. Designed by the automakers jointly, it is still sold as the Isuzu D-Max abroad and once sold as many as 935,470 vehicles combined in the U.S. before the recession. After Ford dropped its Ranger line of small pickups a few years ago, General Motors began to rethink the little pickup and gave it a more fuel-efficient engine with a combined 22 mpg. It's aimed at the U.S. truck buyer who long ago switched to smaller trucks from Japanese automakers.
5-year cost to own: $41,405
With a starting price of $18,990 for a two-wheel-drive king cab, the Frontier gives drivers a 2.5-liter, 152-horsepower, four-cylinder engine hitched to a five-speed manual transmission. What it gives up in brawn, it makes up in tech features such as a 7-inch touchscreen, rearview monitor, Bluetooth, hand-free text, and Siri Eyes Free. Cruise control, four cup holders, and 9 inches of ground clearance aren't such shabby throw-ins, especially with a payload capacity of all of 900 pounds. You may not haul gravel in it, but it'll come in handy on moving day.
5-year cost to own: $45,920
Even with Toyota's small percentage of the U.S. truck market compared with Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler, the Tundra has its fans. Kelley Blue Book notes that it ranks only behind the Chevy and GMC pickups for best resale value, while more than 20 percent of Tundra owners keep their vehicle for 10 years or more. A backup camera now comes standard, as does the Entune audio and information system with touchscreen and Bluetooth connectivity. The 4.0L V6, 4.6L V8, and 5.7L V8 engines remain, but the payload, towing capacity and, above all, reliability are what give the Tundra such a huge following.
5-year cost to own: $48,448
The best-selling vehicle of the last 40 years had to find a spot in here somewhere, no? The critics still love it: Auto blog iSeeCars puts the F-Series on its list of cars that owners keep forever (10 years or more, anyway), while Consumer Reports notes that it is one of the only pickups to consistently get to 200,000 miles and beyond.
5-year cost to own: $49,525
The former Dodge Ram has been completely redesigned for the 2019 model year, but buyers are still taken with the previous model — including its waterproof and drainable RamBoxes in the sidewalls of the bed. While the more recreational drivers like how they “fit up to 240 cans of your favorite beverage in a 5'7 bed or 280 cans in a 6'4 bed configuration,” contractors tend to like the 74.7 cubic feet of cargo capacity, around 3,000 pounds of payload capacity, and nearly 14,000 pounds of towing for different reasons.
5-year cost to own: $43,853
The Odyssey seats up to eight, with second-row seats that can fit three child seats. The Odyssey's removable center console has a flip-up trash-bag holder, but there's also a “cool box” beverage cooler for all of your chilled refreshments. Meanwhile, an in-cabin vacuum is an available option for parents who don't want to wait weeks to pick up road trip snacks. Finally, for moving your whole crew or just moving out, the 148.5 cubic feet of total cargo space comes in handy. “When it comes to mixing maximum family friendliness with a pleasant driving experience, it doesn't get any better than the 2019 Honda Odyssey minivan,” KBB notes. “From its cool (well, cool for a minivan) design and highly functional interior to its impressive list of safety features, the Odyssey has the game figured out.”
5-year cost to own: $44,135
The Sienna uses an upright folding seat in the second row to squeeze in as many as eight passengers and its entire second row slides up to allow third-row access. With power sliding doors, keyless entry, power liftgate in the back, second row climate controls, a sliding center console, a panoramic moonroof, backup cameras and Entune entertainment and information system all available, the Sienna keeps pace in the minivan arms race.
5-year cost to own: $44,493
It's hard to count out Kia when it’s within $1,000 of the top vehicle in its class, but especially with those lengthy vehicle and powertrain warranties. A makeover in 2015 made the exterior look a bit meaner and gave the Sedona xenon headlights, LED taillights and accents, Sirius-XM satellite radio, a touchscreen information and entertainment system, Bluetooth, steering-wheel-mounted controls and a backup warning system. Buyers took notice, despite cargo space and mileage that still trail the category's leaders.