Rik Paul, Consumer Reports, says "Consumer Reports has come up with a way to compare the real cost of owning a car based on assumptions such as fuel cost, your car usage, repairs, and the like. It turns out that a cheaper car can cost you a lot more to own over the long run than a more expensive alternative."
Take a Mitsubishi Lancer. It costs about $5,000 less to buy than a Mini Cooper. But if you traded it in after five years, you could actually have paid about $3,000 more to own the Lancer.
"Our assumptions may not apply precisely to you. But our calculations show that car buyers should really consider the long-term cost of owning a car, not just the purchase price."
Consumer Reports calculated that the least expensive car to own over a five-year period is the Toyota Yaris with the manual transmission. The most expensive? The Mercedes-Benz SI550.