Korean Domestics Top Operating Cost Study

Samir Syed
by Samir Syed
korean domestics top operating cost study

Montreal's largest French language daily has published a study on its site comparing 250 vehicles available for sale in Canada on the basis of MRSP, city fuel consumption, highway fuel consumption. Even better, La Presse published the numbers in a Microsoft Excel file where the findings & methodology are bare for all to see, giving full license to challenge the article's findings. (Imagine Car & Driver or Consumer Reports doing this!) For example, the study's author, Canadian auto-journalist Alain McKenna, states that American cars top the study by having the lowest operating cost per year. When I sorted the file, I noticed the top three cars were The Chevrolet Aveo, the Pontiac Wave and the Suzuki Swift+. If by "American", he means "Captive Korean imports badged by General Motors", I suppose he has a point. He also fails to consider depreciation and maintenance expenses, which tend to be much higher on domestics. Still, it's quite an interesting spreadsheet to review if you're a numbers geek like I am. McKenna also points out that some of the cheapest vehicles are not what you'd expect, noting that three pick-ups, The Ford Ranger, Chevrolet Colorado and the Mazda B2300, all beat out the Toyota Prius. Speaking of the Prius, where did it end up? In 67th place, just edging out the V6 Mustang by $0.04/100 km of operation.

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4 of 13 comments
  • Steven Lang Steven Lang on Mar 18, 2008

    Ok, barring the Metros & Swifts of the world, the most economical used compact cars to own would most likely be... 1998 - 2000 model year 1) Mitsubishi Mirage 2) Suzuki Esteem 3) Dodge Neon (assuming the head gasket's been replaced by a factory unit) 4) Mazda Protege Get a 4-cylinder, 5-speed base version with less than 100k on it and you may be looking at another 10 years of joy free motoring if you live in a temperate climate.

  • Menno Menno on Mar 19, 2008

    Had a Neon. Nix that as anything resembling a reliable used car! Ours was supposedly the first Neons with the "good" head gaskets, 1999 (incidentally, built in Toluca, Mexico). Nope, it was Krap. Blew up before the warrantee was done, but the dealer fixed it and charged it to the "extended warrantee" that he included in the deal (because by this time, he'd had 4 years of selling these POS's and knew Chrysler wouldn't want to fix it). The "improved" head gasket also blew. Just after I broomed the car. The dealer called me to whine about how the new owner just called and had a blown head gasket like 2 weeks after we traded it. Hence, DaimlerChrysler finally threw in the towel on designing four cylinder engines and utilized Hyundai technology on the new all alloy engines built in a co-owned factory in Dundee, Michigan. (Interestingly, neither Hyundai nor Mitsubishi are using engines built in this plant - they just own 1/3 each). Hyundai is busy building their own 4 cylinder engine plant at Montgomery. They've already got a vastly improved version of the engine which was all new for 2006, in their early 2009 cars. Mitsubishi may end up using Dundee built engines once they either move Lancer production to Illinois, or when the all-new Lancer based Galant is introduced in a year or two (presumably it will resemble the Galant ZT show car).

  • Windswords Windswords on Mar 19, 2008

    menno, I have a friends that have driven Neons and have been totally satisfied with them. They are great for what they are, cheap, econimical transportation with (for their time) good driving dynamics especially if they're optioned right. Many wish that Chrysler had updated the Neon instead of going with the Caliber. Once the new head gaskets were implemented the issue pretty much disappeared. I believe in your case the place that installed the new gasket didn't do it properly. It's not a simple bolt on procedure. That is the number one reason new head gaskets fail, it's almost never a faulty gasket.

  • David C. Holzman David C. Holzman on Mar 19, 2008

    Despite it's fault, this has generated very interesting discussion. Numbers are always a great place to start. (Right, Robert?) Thanks, Samir.