10 Used Cars That Cost the Least to Maintain
Having a car is great. Owning a car might not be nearly as great, and a large part of that depends on how expensive it is to maintain. Statistics show that today’s cars are better built than ever before, but that doesn’t mean they will run forever without requiring maintenance and repairs. Not only that, some cars are much less trouble-prone than others. That means that if you choose a used car that has a reputation for low maintenance and repair costs, you’ll be ahead of the game financially.
We conceived this list of the 10 used cars that cost the least to maintain after doing extensive research on the subject with well-regarded sources. The used cars we describe are 2016 models (four to five years old), but in general, the information applies to cars two to three years older and two to three years newer. Here are the 10 used cars that cost the least to maintain.
2016 Hyundai Elantra
The Hyundai Elantra compact sedan boasts excellent build quality and top-rate warranty coverage. That is accompanied by low maintenance and repair costs. The five-passenger sedan is good-looking, comfortable, and quiet, giving you the impression it’s a larger car than it is.
Part of that impression comes from its lengthy 106.3-inch wheelbase and part from its a 145-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. The sturdy in-line four drives the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. Cruise control and remote keyless entry are among its standard features. The trunk is easy to access, and it offers 14.8 cubic feet of trunk space. Despite its powerful engine, the Elantra delivers 27 mpg city/37 mpg highway/31 mpg combined fuel economy.
2016 Hyundai Accent
Superior product quality lands Hyundai products in the No. 1 and No. 2 spots on this important list. You might look at the Accent as the Elantra’s little brother. The subcompact sedan and hatchback offers a similar combination of high build quality, good day-to-day driving manners, and an industry-leading warranty.
Remote keyless entry, traction control, and a USB port are among the standard features, and many 2016 Accents are equipped with optional goodies that don’t add much to the current asking price. For the 2016 model year, the Accent offers a fuel-saving 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The EPA numbers are good at 26 mpg city/37 mpg highway/30 mpg combined. No one will confuse the Accent with a stretch limo, but the five-passenger subcompact has a ride that emphasizes quiet comfort.
2016 Volkswagen Jetta
Volkswagen has developed a reputation for longevity, so it is not a big stretch to think the Volkswagen Jetta would be an inexpensive-to-maintain used car. Yes, VWs do require some special parts and handling, but the statistics still show the Jetta to be among the least-expensive to maintain vehicles in America.
The 2016 Jetta S is powered by a turbocharged 150-horsepower 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine, the only car on this list with standard turbocharging. Electronic stability control and Bluetooth are also standard. The Jetta offers a six-speed automatic transmission and excellent fuel economy ratings of 28 mpg city/39 mpg highway/32 mpg combined. We think the Jetta looks great inside and out, and it delivers more than a little European élan on the road.
2016 Kia Rio
If you can’t find a suitable used 2016 Hyundai Accent near you, the 2016 Kia Rio is a logical substitute. Since Hyundai owns and operates the Kia brand, the Rio shares a great deal with the Hyundai Accent, including the Korean automaker’s strong product quality effort. And then there’s Kia’s lengthy vehicle warranty.
You might say the Rio is conservatively styled, but the five-passenger hatchback and sedan delivers more driving enjoyment than you might expect. One reason for that is its 138-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, which drives the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission and delivers good fuel economy of 27 mpg city/37 mpg highway/31. Among its unexpected pieces of standard equipment are electronic stability control and hill-start assist.
2016 Honda Fit
The Honda Fit subcompact hatchback is a longtime leader in the segment, and one of the average road tester's favorite small cars. If driving enjoyment is high on your priority list, the Fit fills the bill. It is also a very practical vehicle, thanks in part to its hatchback configuration.
The Fit is powered by a 130-horsepower 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that is mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission. Though the engine’s peak torque isn’t all that high, it's still a lively combination. You have to like the fuel economy too at 33 mpg city/40 mpg highway/36 mpg combined. The 2016 Honda Fit is fitted with a lot of standard items including Bluetooth, cruise control, and remote keyless entry. Add to all this Honda’s reputation for quality and you can see why it is on this list.
2016 Kia Forte
The Kia Forte isn’t as well known as the Toyota Corolla or the Honda Civic, but it competes in the same class. Not only that but it outscores them in terms of overall maintenance and repair costs.
The good news is the Forte isn’t just a one-note car. In addition to low maintenance costs, it is reasonably satisfying to drive and, to our eyes, looks good too. Remote entry, heated mirrors, and Bluetooth connectivity are standard on the 2016 Forte. Electronic stability control and hill-start assist are standard as well, so the typical used Forte has a good level of equipment. Motive force comes from its 145-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, which is usually mated to a six-speed automatic. Fuel economy is 25 mpg city/37 mpg highway/30 mpg combined.
2016 Fiat 500
The Fiat 500 takes you to a different decade or at least to a different continent. It channels the spunky styling of the original Fiat 500 “Cinquecento,” and Fiat execs tell us its owners are among the most passionate in the world. If your passion is saving money, the Fiat 500 can help there too with very low maintenance and repair costs. (You might not believe that about a Fiat, but our sources insist it’s true.)
The Fiat’s highly styled interior is a good match for its distinctive exterior. With a fold-down rear seat, it might be best thought of as a two-seater with room for an additional two passengers for occasional brief trips. Its short overall length and reasonably tall overall height make it well-suited for urban environments where parking is at a premium. Producing just 101 horsepower, its 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine works pretty hard — so its fuel economy, while good, isn’t as thrifty as you might expect at 27mpg city/34 mpg highway/30 mpg combined.
2016 Kia Soul
Like the free-spirited Fiat 500, the Kia Soul revels in being different from all the others in the segment. Its profile tells the story, though the Soul is larger than many expect it to be, like the box a MINI might be shipped in.
Versatility is its calling card. The Soul's commodious interior includes a 61.3 cubic foot cargo bay when you want it. In base form, the 2016 Soul is powered by a 130-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with a six-speed automatic transmission. If you’re shooting for the lowest maintenance costs, that’s the route you should take. Fuel economy is 24 mpg city/30 mpg highway/26 mpg combined, not figures that will knock your socks off. But when you understand it has the interior room of a small SUV, you’ll feel better about it.
2016 Toyota Yaris
Toyota has a well-deserved reputation for reliability and dependability going for it, so it is not surprising the brand’s least-expensive car landed on this list. The subcompact Yaris is powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 106 horsepower. Usually, the engine is accompanied by a four-speed automatic transmission, although a five-speed manual transmission was also offered.
Fuel economy is impressive at 30 mpg city/36 mpg highway/32 mpg combined, and traction control is standard. A touchscreen infotainment interface and voice recognition are also standard along with Bluetooth connectivity. If you want an inexpensive-to-maintain Toyota, this is your poster child.
2016 Chevrolet Spark
The smartly styled four-passenger hatchback could almost be considered a mini SUV, and that’s how it is viewed in many parts of the world where it is very popular. In the United States, its 98-horsepower 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine might be considered a little on the weak side, but its 2,300-lb curb weight doesn’t require that much power.
Thanks to this, fuel economy is stellar at 30 mpg city/41 mpg highway and 34 mpg combined, and the Spark is fun to drive in its own quirky way. Another big plus is the standard rearview camera system that aids in parking, although its small size makes it pretty easy to park anyway. For you cargo haulers, the Spark is big inside with 27.2 cubic feet of cargo space. Traction control and Bluetooth connectivity are standard equipment on 2016 models.