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Bankrate's 2007 New Car Guide
Dollar$ & $en$e
Status and styling aside, many car-buying decisions boil down to bucks and budgets.
Dollar$ & $en$e
How much will your car really cost?
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Typically, Hondas and Toyotas hold their price well, says Reed.

Low depreciation is a big part of the reason the Jeep Patriot made the "least expensive" list, says Reed. "Jeeps have a tendency to have loyal owners," he says. "The depreciation is low."

Even though it makes the "most expensive" list, the resale value on a Porsche 911 "is extremely strong," says Reed. What make it so costly are insurance and purchase price, he says.

Impact of insurance
About that insurance. When you're estimating the real cost of ownership, it's a fairly significant piece of the pie, says Reed.

Though insurers are increasingly looking more at the region and the owner's driving record, Rosten says, more expensive cars are more expensive to insure.

Other factors likely to raise premiums aren't a big mystery either. "Any car that is fast, expensive or perceived as dangerous, it's going to have an impact," Reed says.

And that makes the high performance (read "fast") cars especially expensive.

"These are dream cars for people, and when they get them, they drive them like that," Reed says." You lose your perception of how fast you're going in a premium car."

Safety is another component. With so many trucks and jumbo SUVs on the road, the perception of safety is an issue for smaller cars, says Reed.

Money and mileage
Financing is obviously a big piece of the total-cost puzzle. Special financing through the manufacturer's financing arms varies from model to model, Rosten says. When buyers can get them, loans from the manufacturer's own credit companies often offer the best deals, he says. "Some offer zero percent for up to six years," he says. You can compare up-to-date auto loan rates in your area at Bankrate's auto loan home page.

And who can forget gas mileage with pump prices seeming to rise each week? The 10 vehicles that made the "least expensive" list "are all fuel efficient cars, with the exception of the Jeep Patriot," says Reed.

Honda sells two Honda Civic versions that average 29 miles per gallon (mpg) combined city/highway, while a third with a larger engine gets 23 mpg, according to EPA estimates. A natural gas Civic gets the equivalent of 28 mpg, and the hybrid averages 42 mpg. 

-- Posted: August 1, 2007
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