Monday, November 21, 2011

Top10 Cheapest Cars to Maintain

Toyota Corolla
Toyota Corolla
Smaller is better when picking a car based purely on upkeep, according to Vincentric, a research firm in Bingham Farms, Mich., that calculates ownership costs for every vehicle on the market. Just look at the top 10 vehicles from the 2011 model year with the lowest maintenance and repair costs on our list: Six of them are small by U.S. standards. Why are smaller cars so much cheaper to own? Labor costs and the cost of replacement parts for small cars are usually cheaper. Even so, there are a few big boys on the list, primarily because their free scheduled-maintenance programs are top-notch. Regardless, based mainly on Vincentric data and some insight from our friends at Consumer Reports, here are the 10 cheapest cars to maintain on the road today.

Ford Focus SES Coupe
Ford Focus SES Coupe

10. Ford Focus

Average maintenance: $1,667
Average repairs: $1,422
Total 5-year service cost: $3,089
Consumer Reports predicted reliability: Better than average
The 2011 Ford Focus is the final evolution of a model that has been on the market since 2000. Its track record was marred early on by hundreds of recalls and terrible reliability. At heart, though, it has always been a fun and practical car, if never the most fuel-efficient or impressive in terms of quality, fit and finish, even once all the gremlins were gone. At least for now, it has finally proved to be reliable. Hopefully, that will carry over to the all-new 2012 model, which launches this year
Toyota Camry
Toyota Camry

9. Toyota Camry Hybrid

Average maintenance: $1,661
Average repairs: $1,406
Total 5-year service cost: $3,067
Consumer Reports predicted reliability: Better than average
It seems odd that the Camry Hybrid, with more technology than a regular Camry, is $64 cheaper to maintain over five years. The reason comes down to tires and the way Vincentric parses data. First of all, maintenance and repair costs for the Camry Hybrid are calculated separately from the other three Camry models. Meanwhile, the SE trim of the regular Camry has larger wheels, which require tires that cost almost $200 more to replace. That added cost gets averaged in with the other nonhybrid trims to create a higher overall maintenance and repair figure for the regular Camry.
Cadillac STS
Cadillac STS

8. Cadillac STS

Average maintenance: $1,173
Average repairs: $1,885
Total 5-year service cost: $3,058
Consumer Reports predicted reliability: Worse than average
The Cadillac STS and the Chevrolet Aveo — both General Motors cars — are the only two vehicles on the list with poor reliability as calculated by Consumer Reports. Reliability does affect repair costs, but generally not maintenance, says David Wurster, president of Vincentric. Cadillac's free maintenance program helps give this sedan the lowest 5-year costs for routine scheduled service of any vehicle on the list. And that, in turn, helps offset its repair costs, which are the highest of the group, partly because of pricier parts and labor.


Volvo S40
Volvo S40

7. Volvo S40 / V50

Average maintenance: $1,329
Average repairs: $1,727
Total 5-year service cost: $3,056
Consumer Reports predicted reliability: N/A
The Volvo S40 and V50 are twins; one is a sedan, the other a wagon. They have identical service costs, brought down by Volvo's generous free-maintenance schedule, which lowers the 5-year service total by nearly $2,000. That's huge. The S40 and V50 were launched in 2005 and have changed little since then. Consumer Reports doesn't have reliability data on the current model, but past models have had trouble spots. Volvo sold 74,894 S40 and V50 cars from 2006 through 2010; split the two up and they are by far the slowest sellers of this lot.
Cadillac DTS
Cadillac DTS

6. Cadillac DTS

Average maintenance: $1,269
Average repairs: $1,774
Total 5-year service cost: $3,043
Consumer Reports predicted reliability: Average
The Cadillac DTS is a rolling anachronism, the last bastion of old-school, fat-cat Detroit decadence. Cadillac's free-maintenance program helped get this plush, full-size luxury sedan in the ranking by slashing $1,090 from its 5-year service cost. Another factor that could be working in its favor is the profile of a typical DTS driver, who tends to be older and not as likely to rack up a lot of miles or wear and tear. This might help curtail the extended-warranty claims that help drive Vincentric's 5-year service-cost projections.

Chevrolet Aveo
Chevrolet Aveo

5. Chevrolet Aveo

Average maintenance: $1,614
Average repairs: $1,422
Total 5-year service cost: $3,036
Consumer Reports predicted reliability: Much worse than average
The Aveo sedan and Aveo5 hatchback have identical service-cost projections. These Korean-made cars stand out for how cheap they are, not only to buy, but to maintain. Consumer Reports gives them low marks on reliability, but we weren't able to reconcile that with Vincentric's data, which show the Aveo has the second-lowest repair costs over five years — beat only by the Camry Hybrid. With regard to routine maintenance, though, it has the second-highest total of the group. The Aveo will soon be replaced by an all-new car, the Sonic, which looks to be as dramatic an improvement as the Chevrolet Cruze was over the Cobalt.
Toyota Tacoma Double Cab
Toyota Tacoma Double Cab

4. Toyota Tacoma

Average maintenance: $1,584
Average repairs: $1,451
Total 5-year service cost: $3,035
Consumer Reports predicted reliability: Average
The only pickup truck on the list is among the smallest available in the United States, underscoring once again that size matters and, where maintenance and repair costs are concerned, it's the smaller the better. Besides a solid reputation for reliability, Toyota's new free scheduled-maintenance program helps drive down the truck's upkeep by $258. That's just a fraction of the cost that Cadillac and Volvo kick in with their free programs, which can only burnish Toyota's temporarily tarnished reputation.

Toyota Yaris Liftback
Toyota Yaris Liftback

3. Toyota Yaris

Average maintenance: $1,623
Average repairs: $1,406
Total 5-year service cost: $3,029
Consumer Reports predicted reliability: Much better than average
From the driver's seat, the Toyota Yaris, like the Chevrolet Aveo, has to be one of the cheapest-feeling cars on the market. Yet it's still a good, capable car, with excellent fuel economy and top marks in reliability from Consumer Reports. Twenty years ago, who would have thought that competition among automakers would someday create an environment where even a budget car like the Yaris would offer its owners free scheduled maintenance?
Toyota Corolla
Toyota Corolla

2. Toyota Corolla

Average maintenance: $1,585
Average repairs: $1,406
Total 5-year service cost: $2,991
Consumer Reports predicted reliability: Better than average
The Corolla is one of the best-selling cars of all time. Over the past five years alone, Toyota has sold more than 1.7 million Corollas in the United States. The only other car on this list to have sold in higher numbers during that time frame is the Camry, at more than 2 million units. In some parts of the world, the Corolla is considered a commodious family car. Here in the U.S, it's seen as just another small one. Regardless of size, it gets almost everything right. If it had a little more pizzazz it would be perfect.
Honda Fit Sport 5-Spd AT
Honda Fit Sport

1. Honda Fit

Average maintenance: $1,494
Average repairs: $1,444
Total 5-year service cost: $2,937
Consumer Reports predicted reliability: Much better than average
Drivers of compact SUVs should give cars such as the Honda Fit a try. Because even though it looks small on the outside, the Fit is so cleverly packaged that it feels nearly as versatile and spacious as some small crossovers — no joke. Yet it gets much better mileage and costs less, not only to buy, but to maintain and repair. The Fit will face increasing competition in years to come, not just from the Ford Fiesta, but also from the Chevrolet Sonic, Fiat 500, Hyundai Accent and a host of other cars that pack tons of value into tiny packages.