The price you pay a dealer to drive off the lot in a shiny new car does not necessarily reflect the real bottom line when it comes to the true costs of owning a vehicle. To arrive at a vehicle’s true, projected costs of ownership and operation, it’s important to consider less obvious factors. These “hidden” variables affect the real-world costs of driving a given model. Factors such as depreciation, insurance, financing, maintenance, repairs and fuel economy, for example, all play an important role in determining the obscured costs of ownership.
Sticker price is one thing. But projected five-year ownership cost is often another. Take the 2014 Toyota Sienna XLE (based on most-recent data available). At least two of its closest competitor vehicles cost slightly less initially. Others cost slightly (to significantly) more. But when you consider the long-term projected costs of ownership, Sienna XLE outshines them all.
For example, the 2014 Chrysler Town and Country Touring L costs just slightly more than Sienna XLE initially. But over the course of five years, you’ll end up paying about $5,360 more to drive the Chrysler, compared to Toyota Sienna XLE. Talk about touring. With more than $5,000 savings in your pocket, you’d be able to afford an awful lot of touring, at your leisure, in the comfort of your sporty RAV4 over those five years.
Or consider Toyota Sienna XLE versus Kia Sedona SX 4DR. It costs more initially, and then the costs continue to add up. When it’s all said and done, the Kia will have cost you about $3,580 more to own and operate than the Toyota Sienna. Or perhaps you’re considering the 2014 Honda Odyssey EX -EXT instead of Toyota Sienna XLE. The Honda would have cost you slightly more initially—and then the costs would continue to mount. Ultimately, you’d end up paying about $1,242 to own and operate the Honda over five years.
Even the 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan R/T costs more in the long run than Toyota Sienna XLE. Although the Dodge costs less initially, at the end of five years, you would end up having paid about $641 more to drive the Dodge. Clearly, sticker price does not tell the whole story when it comes to the ultimate costs associated with driving a vehicle. Look beyond sticker price and approach your new car purchase with open eyes.