Toyota Yaris (L)
Depreciation over five years: $8,788
Average annual insurance: $1,090
EPA fuel economy: 30 mpg city, 37 highway
Five-year total cost of ownership: $28,685
The Yaris, just like the long line of Echo and Tercel models before it, isn't just one of the most affordable subcompact hatchbacks, but one of the most affordable cars to own for years. Although the Yaris lacks the hybrid powertrain of the the current Yaris, it has a low sticker price and low average insurance premiums; the Toyota Prius C hybrid gets muchbetter gas mileage, but it also costs almost $5k more.
Kia Soul (Base)
Depreciation over five years: $8,875
Average annual insurance: $881
EPA fuel economy: 25 mpg= city, 30 highway (manual)
Five-year total cost of ownership: $29,338
While the Kia Soul doesn't return gas mileage that's on par with most other models in this group, it doesn't depreciate as severely as them either, and its insurance premiums, on average, are the lowest in this top-ten group. Perhaps more importantly, though, the roomy, fun-to-drive Soul gives cost-conscious shoppers a distinct, daringly different body style that combines just the right amount of crossover-vehicle influences with small-car sensibilities.Hyundai Accent (GLS Sedan)
Depreciation over five years: $10,139
Average annual insurance: $1,031
EPA fuel economy: 28 mpg city, 37 highway (manual)
Five-year total cost of ownership: $29,474
Hyundai used to be the price leader among small cars—and had the lowest-priced car in the U.S. market for some time—with its Accent; but this year especially it's repositioned this family of subcompact cars for a somewhat different definition of 'value.' The 2013 Accent, still closely related to the Kia Rio, but taking a completely different tack with respect to, now includes air conditioning, a sound system, and power windows and mirrors, even in the $14,545 base model. Figure in good gas mileage and a reputation for being trouble-free, and the Accent will keep your budget well under wraps.Scion iQ
Depreciation over five years: $9,814
Average annual insurance: $1,092
EPA fuel economy: 36 mpg city, 37 highway
Five-year total cost of ownership: $29,490
Scion, Toyota's urban-focused small-car brand, pitches the iQ as a premium city car with a more sophisticated driving feel (and more noise insulation) than other budget-priced minicompacts. For the most part, this 10-foot-long hatchback stands up to that, with its 94-hp four-cylinder engine and continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) offering plenty of perkiness around town; it's surprisingly safe and stable on the highway, too—although we're by no means going to say that it feels in its element there. It's hardly a gas-mileage champ either, but its unique '3+1' seating layout makes it way more useful than the two-seat Smart Fortwo.
Ford Fiesta (S sedan)
Depreciation over five years: $9,043
Average annual insurance: $1,125
EPA fuel economy: 28 mpg city, 37 highway (manual)
Five-year total cost of ownership: $29,727
Among this cheapest-to-own set, the Ford Fiesta, even in its base S form, is easily the most enjoyable to drive, if not the quickest. Considering its modest 120-horsepower engine and five-speed manual gearbox (skip the available PowerShift transmission), and basic econocar roots with rear drum brakes, the Fiesta is simply better than the sum of its parts—albeit a little loud inside at times. Although you might like the look of the Fiesta hatchback a bit better (we tend to think it's sportier and more cohesive), we can't ignore for the purposes of this list that the sedan costs $1,000 less. There's also a $795 Super Fuel Economy package that boosts the highway rating to 40 mpg.
Kia Forte (LX sedan)
Depreciation over five years: $9,704
Average annual insurance: $929
EPA fuel economy: 25 mpg city, 34 highway (manual)
Five-year total cost of ownership: $29,769
Normally, buying a model that's in its last model year before a major redesign (the redesigned 2014 is arriving as soon as next month) isn't a smart move; yet with Vincentric figuring on more than a $1,000 discount, and low insurance premiums in this established model, the base 2013 Forte LX has some impressively low ownership costs. While this model looks like less of a standout than it used to next to rivals like the new Ford Focus or Hyundai Elantra, or the rest of the even-more-Euro-stylish Kia lineup, it's perky-driving, well equipped, and smartly laid out—as well as very cheap over the long run.
Toyota Corolla (Base)
Depreciation over five years: $9,327
Average annual insurance: $1,093
EPA fuel economy: 27 mpg city, 34 highway (manual)
Five-year total cost of ownership: $30,435
Of all the models on this list, the presence of the Toyota Corolla is one that's probably not at all surprising. Toyota has remained focused over decades in keeping this well-recognized nameplate's reputation as a low-priced, dependable sedan, with low running costs to boot. The current Corolla is one of the blandest, most innocuous compact sedans on the market, but its cabin is quiet and surprisingly comfortable—and even this base Corolla L now gets features such as power windows, keyless entry, and air conditioning.