The Least Expensive SUVs to Own

Two-Row Midsize: Subaru Outback


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Two-Row Midsize: Subaru Outback

Sport Utility Savings

Whether you're in the market for an SUV with a sub-$20,000 price tag or an ultra-luxe option costing just shy of six figures, you should look past the MSRP and choose a model that will pay dividends in the long run. SUVs that are cheap to own depreciate slowly, retain their resale value, get good gas mileage, and find a way to stay out of the mechanic's shop. Every year, Kelley Blue Book unveils its selections for the SUVs in each category that have the lowest five-year cost of ownership compared with all others in their class. Here are the winners.

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2020 Hyundai Venue
Hyundai Motor America

Subcompact: Hyundai Venue

Five-year cost of ownership: $29,195

The Hyundai Venue has been on the road for only two years — this year and last — and both years it's taken the top prize for the least expensive subcompact SUV to own over five years. Not only does it come with a sub $19,000 MSRP, but it costs $6,838 less to own over five years than the average vehicle in its segment.

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2020 Subaru Forester

Compact: Subaru Forester

Five-year cost of ownership: $36,446

The compact SUV segment is probably the most crowded category in the market, but the Subaru Forester continues to stand out. Standard Subaru all-wheel-drive and class-leading ground clearance make it a real off-road warrior without sacrificing highway comfort — and it's cheap to own. You'll spend an average of $3,307 more over the course of five years to own the average compact SUV.

Related: Cars, Trucks, and SUVs With the Best Resale Value

Two-Row Midsize: Subaru Outback

Two-Row Midsize: Subaru Outback

Five-year cost of ownership: $40,614

The flagship vehicle of the Subaru lineup, the Outback has cultivated a cultlike following of loyalists. The name Outback has been synonymous with safety, reliability, and off-road prowess since its inception. Part ATV, part station wagon, and part SUV, the Outback will save you nearly $8,000 over the course of five years compared with the average SUV in its class — $7,924, to be exact.

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Subaru Ascent

Three-Row Midsize: Subaru Ascent

Five-year cost of ownership: $45,935

You might notice a pattern emerging with Subarus on this list. The previous language of "cultlike" isn't really a fair description — cult members are brainwashed; Subaru's legions of loyalists, on the other hand, are logical. Brand new as of two years ago, the Ascent is the newest, biggest, and most family-friendly ride in the Subaru lineup, but there's nothing new about its standard all-wheel drive, impressive standard safety features, and famous Subaru reliability, all of which has been the brand's trademark from the beginning. You'll save $3,515 over the course of five years compared with the average three-row midsize. 

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Two-Door Jeep Wrangler

Off-Road: Two-Door Jeep Wrangler

Five-year cost of ownership: $41,187

To call the Wrangler an SUV is kind of insulting. It's not an SUV. It's a Jeep. The hero of World War II, the original Jeep served as history's prototype for the concept of a utility vehicle and the two-door Wrangler lives that legacy today. The ultimate in off-road adventure, the flagship vehicle of the "Go Anywhere. Do Anything" brand will save you $2,825 compared with the average in its segment over five years. 

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Nissan Armada

Full-Size: Nissan Armada

Five-year cost of ownership: $63,224

The first Japanese vehicle on the list is the big and muscular but sleek and comfy Nissan Armada. Its V8 is good for 400 horses and it can tow 8,500 pounds. It's based on the Infiniti QX80, but you would never know it from its price tag. And with five-year savings of $5,431 compared with the segment average, it's as cheap to own as it is to buy. 

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2019 Lexus UX

Subcompact Luxury: Lexus UX

Five-year cost of ownership: $44,621

Lexus has been synonymous with luxury since the 1990s, but who can afford a Lexus, right? With a starting MSRP of $33,000, maybe you. The newest and smallest SUV in the lineup, the Lexus UX is the common driver's luxury vehicle, but it is by no means some stripped-down imposter with a prestige nameplate — the UX is everything you'd expect from the Lexus brand inside and out. After five years of ownership, you'll save $3,079 compared with the segment average.

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2020 Lexus NX
Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Compact Luxury: Lexus NX

Five-year cost of ownership: $48,906

Back again at the top of the compact luxury segment is the Lexus NX, which saves you nearly $5,000 over the course of five years — $4,893. If it's not the greatest all-around vehicle Lexus has ever made, it's certainly in the running. Safe, reliable, and dripping with ultra-luxe materials inside and out, it holds its resale value like few other vehicles on the road. 

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Two-Row Midsize Luxury: Lexus RX

Two-Row Midsize Luxury: Lexus RX

Five-year cost of ownership: $60,931

Lexus was the primary pioneer of the luxury SUV segment, so it makes sense that it's as dominant among luxury utility vehicles as Subaru is among SUVs designed for mere mortals. Powerful, efficient, and luxurious even by the standards of its nameplate, the Lexus RX is made from some of the finest materials you'll find in any vehicle. It's also the first SUV on this list that delivers five-figure savings over five years — $11,167. 

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Three-Row Midsize Luxury: Volvo XC90

Three-Row Midsize Luxury: Volvo XC90

Five-year cost of ownership: $59,509

Available in turbo, turbo/supercharged, and hybrid, the Volvo XC90 can be optioned all the way up to 400 horsepower. No matter which package you choose, you can expect depreciation to be slow and low. Fuel-efficient, safe, posh, and beautiful, the XC90 will save you $6,205 compared with the segment average. 

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2020 Infiniti QX80

Full-Size Luxury: Infiniti QX80

Five-year cost of ownership: $90,014

Besides the Lexus RX, only one other vehicle on this list will save you five figures over five years compared with the segment average — $10,914 — and that's the Infiniti QX80. With a beastly body-on-frame layout, it can drum up 400 horses and tow 8,500 pounds. Inside and out, however, all that muscle is cloaked in beauty and refined elegance that belongs inside something with a six-figure price tag.

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