It’s normal for many new car buyers to fall out of love with their vehicles once the honeymoon is over and the thrill is gone, though the majority stick with their vehicles for the long haul — well, until the lease period is up, anyway.
The jilted romantics will run to tell Consumer Reports and anyone else in their immediate vicinity about how unsatisfied they are with their car’s finicky infotainment unit and herky-jerky transmission, but their complaints fail to shed any light on costs. Initial quality and customer satisfaction are nice things, but what about the impact on the buyer’s wallet over time?
Kelley Blue Book can provide some advice, as it tallies up the top brands and models based on ownership costs over a five-year period.
Congratulations, Subaru owners — you apparently did the right thing.
In its latest 5-Year Cost to Own study, which assigns a gold star based on depreciation, fuel costs, insurance and finance fees, and repair costs, KBB judged Subaru as the best non-luxury brand. Improvements in reliability and fuel economy earned the all-wheel-drive fan club the top spot — a standing it achieved for the first time two years ago.
For premium buyers, the top luxury brand is not many people’s first choice. Acura has something of an image problem, and fails to light a fire in the hearts of many luxury buyers, but it is KBB’s top pick for a number of reasons. Resale value is high, and the brand’s price points handily undercut its German competition.
A high level of standard content for the money makes Acura vehicles a good pick if you’re not at all interested in having friends and neighbors gush over your new car. Even KBB had to admit that Acuras score low points for prestige. Still, status and prestige can’t be measured in dollars, so the brand’s low standing among premium enthusiasts doesn’t work against it. Hey, your local Acura retailer might just give you a smoking deal on those unloved models!
While both Subaru and Acura scores the highest overall marks on a brand level, the two companies’ offerings didn’t stand out at the model level. Only one model produced by the two brands — the Subaru Crosstrek — topped its own category. (In this case, the compact crossover/SUV segment.)
Among vehicles with pleasing long-term ownership costs, the Chevrolet Spark proved best in the subcompact car category. Chevrolet also topped the full-size category with its Impala, and lead in the full-size SUV/crossover field with its Tahoe. The Bowtie Badge also topped the midsize truck category with its Colorado extended cab, and the full-size truck field with its Silverado 1500 regular cab.
Among compact cars, a very familiar name outran them all. The Toyota Corolla topped its competition in that field, while the Honda Accord ranked best among midsize cars. Honda scored a second mention with its segment-leading — at least in terms of value — HR-V subcompact crossover. The Ford Focus RS, not surprisingly, was named best sporty small car.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles managed two entries on the list, and the identity of the vehicles shouldn’t shock anyone. The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, a model with insane resale value, topped the midsize SUV/Crossover category, while the Dodge Grand Caravan — a low-priced model older than the earth’s crust — was the value pick for the minivan segment.
When it came to luxury cars, the winner was Acura’s main competitor, Lexus. The Lexus GS took the podium as best luxury car, while the tried-and-true LS460 and its long-wheelbase brother received top marks among high-end luxury cars. Infiniti took the prize for midsize and full-size luxury SUV/crossovers with its QX60 and QX80 models.
[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]