Best Bang for Your Buck

Hybrid cars get a lot of hype when gas prices rise, but if your overall goal is to simply save money there might be better options. Although the most fuel-efficient car on the market is the Toyota Prius hybrid, after eight years of ownership, including fuel costs, it will cost almost $6,000 more than owning a Smart ForTwo for the same time period.

The five most inexpensive-to-own hybrids were included for comparison purposes.

Passenger Cars
Below are the top 10 passenger cars that give consumers the best bang for their buck based on vehicle price and the average lifetime fuel cost to operate the car. All cars listed have a manual transmission except the Smart ForTwo, which comes with an automated-manual transmission.
VehicleMPG (city/hwy)Base StickerLifetime FuelSticker & Lifetime Fuel
1. Smart ForTwo33/41$11,590$13,932*$25,522
2. Toyota Yaris29/36$11,350$15,103$26,453
3. Hyundai Accent27/32$10,775$16,528$27,303
4. Kia Rio27/32$10,890$16,528$27,418
5. Chevrolet Aveo524/34$10,235$17,353$27,588
6. Nissan Versa26/31$12,880$17,122$30,002
7. Chevrolet Aveo24/34$12,170$17,353$29,523
8. Honda Fit28/34$13,950$15,782$29,732
9. Toyota Corolla28/37$14,405$15,266$29,671
10. Scion xD27/33$14,550$16,323$30,873

*With premium fuel.

The list was compiled by combining the car's base sticker price (as of 5/9/08) with a fuel cost estimate based on its EPA-estimated gas mileage. Fuel costs assume that the car is driven 15,000 miles per year, 55 percent in the city and 45 percent on the highway; that the cost of regular unleaded gasoline is $4.00 a gallon and the cost of premium unleaded gasoline is $4.30 a gallon; and that the car is owned for eight years.

Hybrids
Below are the top five hybrids that give consumers the best bang for their buck based on vehicle price and the average lifetime fuel cost to operate the car.
VehicleMPG (city/hwy)Base StickerLifetime FuelSticker & Lifetime Fuel
1. Toyota Prius48/45$21,100$10,300$31,400
2. Honda Civic Hybrid40/45$22,600$11,400$34,000
3. Toyota Camry Hybrid33/34$25,200$14,353$39,553
4. Nissan Altima Hybrid35/33$25,480$14,088$39,568
5. Saturn Aura Green Line24/32$23,640$17,750$41,390

The list was compiled by combining the car's base sticker price (as of 5/9/08) with a fuel cost estimate based on its EPA-estimated gas mileage. Fuel costs assume that the car is driven 15,000 miles per year, 55 percent in the city and 45 percent on the highway; that the cost of regular unleaded gasoline is $4.00 a gallon; and that the car is owned for eight years.

Posted on 7/11/08