Kiplinger’s is a pretty good personal finance/business magazine, but the cars they’re recommending on their 2013 Cheapest Cars list is a parade of vehicles that offer all of the spirit and pure enjoyment of a catheter. Buying new is never cheap, and if cheap is all your interested in, you’re left with the new cars that have a hard time finding a home in a rental fleet. ClunkerNation offers some alternate Clunker-esque suggestions that are both cheap and fun:
Compact Cars—Kiplinger’s says the Nissan Versa S ($12,780) is the cheapest car sold in the U.S. , but the Kia Forte LX ($16,175) is a better value. The five year cost of ownership is $29,769. Fine. For $16,000, you could purchase this 2010 Mazdaspeed Mazda3, own a car you truly enjoy driving, and have something that someone else would actually be interested in owning when you’re done with it.
Family Sedans—Kiplinger’s notes that the Nissan Altima Base ($22,550) is the midsize car with the lowest ownership costs, but their value pick is the Ford Fusion S ($22,495). Over five years, ownership costs are $37,005. We’re not ones to bet against the Fusion, but for $22,500, why would you opt for a low-trim, FWD Fusion when you could purchase an all-wheel drive BMW 328xi with fewer than 40,000 miles?
Luxury Sedans—Kiplinger’s says the Buick Regal 2.4L ($29,910) slides into the cheapest slot for luxury sedans with a five-year cost of $42,493, but the Lexus ES 300h ($39,745) costs only about $3,500 more to own for five years ($46,976). With $40,000 to spend, we love this all-wheel drive Infiniti M56X with over 18k on the clock.
Family Crossovers—The magazine says that the abysmal Dodge Journey SE ($19,990) is the cheapest midsize crossover, but the Toyota Highlander Plus ($31,170) is their value pick. Over five years, you’ll pay $42,232. Our controversial pick is this 2010 Land Rover LR4. It seats seven, will haul anything you own, and offers a lot more off-road performance than anything in the crossover market. Reliability? Well, where’s your sense of adventure?