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Kelley Blue Book Announces Total Cost of Ownership Awards

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author photo by Jeffrey Archer February 2012
  • Kia topped the list among mainstream brands.
  • Audi was the top upscale brand.
  • KBB cautions that depreciation is often the biggest expense of car ownership.

Kelley Blue Book recently announced its first-ever Total Cost of Ownership awards, which are given to brands and vehicles with the lowest projected ownership costs. Among mainstream brands, the inaugural award went to Kia, while Audi took home top honors among upscale luxury brands.

According to Kelley Blue Book, the awards considered a variety of factors including depreciation, fuel costs, insurance rates and maintenance expenses projected over an initial five-year ownership period. The industry analytics firm says the greatest expense in owning a new vehicle is depreciation, which is followed closely by fuel costs - although other expenses like insurance and maintenance can also add up quickly.

Kelley Blue Book says that's why Kia was a shoo-in for the top spot among mainstream brands with the lowest total cost of ownership. According to the firm, many of the automaker's models - especially the compact Soul, midsize Optima and Sportage SUV - are fuel-efficient and retain their value well. Most Kias are also inexpensive to insure and even cheaper to maintain thanks to long warranties that cover many major components.

Among upscale brands, Kelley Blue Book says Audi stands out primarily due to its low depreciation and above average fuel economy. KBB specifically highlighted the A3, A4 and Q5 for their low total cost of ownership, noting the models combine impressive fuel efficiency with stellar resale value thanks to their high desirability.

"Car shoppers should take the time to compare vehicles on their consideration lists to fully understand the financial implications involved with cost of ownership," said Juan Flores, Kelley Blue Book's director of vehicle valuation for Kelley Blue Book. "While a vehicle might be less expensive up front, the cost of fuel for that model, insurance and other expenditures could make it the less appealing choice for their wallet in the long run."

Other automakers that fared well in the inaugural Total Cost of Ownership awards include Hyundai, which topped the midsize sedan category with its new Sonata and the crossover class with its midsize Santa Fe; and Nissan, which led the compact crossover segment with its funky new Juke and the "electric vehicle" category with its fully-electric Leaf hatchback.

What it means to you: It's important to factor in depreciation when choosing a new car - and KBB's Total Cost of Ownership awards help you do just that.

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Kelley Blue Book Announces Total Cost of Ownership Awards - Autotrader