Cheapest car to own and maintain

I don't know how many emails I get with these questions every single day:
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  • Which car is the least expensive car to run?
  • Which car depreciates the less?
  • Which car has the lowest running costs?

To be honest, there is no real right answer. As I mentioned in a post about the Depreciation of Australian made cars, the Commodore and Falcon are definitely not the cheapest cars to own. Not because they break down or are not reliable or even that they are not fuel efficient, but more so because they depreciate faster than stocks in OneTel. Nevertheless, there seems to be an answer, finally.

The Royal Automobile Association of South Australia (RAA) has labelled the Kia Rio as the cheapest car to own and maintain all around. If you haven't noticed already I am not the biggest Korean car fan boy, but I have to hand it to Kia for making a small car that is cheap but doesn't cost an arm and a leg to maintain.

The 2006 Vehicle Operating Costs survey showed that the Kia Rio, at an average cost of $117.50 per week, was the cheapest to run of all cars surveyed and was 4 percent less expensive to run than its nearest competitor in the Light Car class.

Even the RACV have listed the Rio as the cheapest car to maintain in Victoria with the average operating cost for the Rio dropping to $111.20 per week. The survey calculations are based over a five-year, 75,000km ownership period, and take into account standing costs that include

  • depreciation,
  • loan interest costs,
  • registration,
  • licensing
  • insurance.
  • fuel
  • tyres
  • servicing.

Although I bad mouth the cheap Korean cars quite a lot, Kia is quick to point out that the Kia Rio's low cost of ownership doesn't come at the expense of Quality.

Rio was recently ranked highest for initial quality in the sub-compact (light car) category in the JD Power and Associates 2006 Initial Quality StudySM (IQS) in the United States. In that toughest of car markets, Rio was judged equal highest for quality in a comprehensive study that measures 217 vehicle attributes across eight categories, including driving experience, engine and transmission, and a broad range of quality problem symptoms reported by vehicle owners.”

The 1.6-litre Kia Rio manual 5-door hatch sells for a recommended retail price of $15,990, with air-conditioning, six-speaker audio system with CD, dual airbags, full-sized spare wheel, power windows and mirrors and remote central locking all fitted as standard. Automatic transmission is available for an extra $2,000.

Okay, okay, so maybe the Rio isn't that bad if you are after a cheap car to get around and have absolutely no taste in cars what so ever, but that still doesn't take away the fact that its bloody ugly!