These coupes, SUVs and sedans are anything but wallet-friendly over the long term.
(Forbes.com) It remains to be seen if President Obama's $787 billion stimulus bill, with $17.4 billion allocated for automakers, could be the shot in the arm they need to restore flagging sales--which were down 36.6% in the U.S. in January.
Unfortunately, today's popular, downsized, fuel-efficient vehicles that promise dependability and affordability over the long-term are not the cars that translate to profits for the automakers. Instead it's the higher-priced, less-practical vehicles that make more money; they also continue to cost consumers long after they've driven off the lot.
"People need to be looking at all these various costs, such as depreciation and insurance and maintenance and repairs and fuel efficiency," says David Wurster, who leads product development and industry analysis for Vincentric, an auto-industry data analysis firm based in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. "Those always should be areas to be considering when you're purchasing a car because they separate a good buy from a money vacuum."
To wit: Most buyers will do just fine with the $98,500 Mercedes-Benz SL550 Roadster as opposed to its $190,700 Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG Roadster counterpart. The AMG costs so much more because of its ultra-specialized, ultra-powerful engine, which guzzles more gas. Never mind that the AMG has some of the highest depreciation, insurance and maintenance costs of any car on the road.
Behind the Numbers
To find the costliest vehicles to own, we used data from Vincentric to calculate the costs of depreciation; interest on the loan; fuel; maintenance and repairs; taxes and fees; and insurance over five years, then divided the results into 11 segments (excluding low-production vehicles from the likes of Aston Martin and Bugatti) to find the most expensive models in each class.
What we found is common sense: Cars with high sticker prices tend to cost the most over the long haul. German automaker Mercedes-Benz, in particular, dominated our list, with five segment winners, including the $194,950 S65 AMG sedan and $88,500 E63 AMG wagon.
But exceptions do occur. At $53,460, the Chevrolet Suburban is priced less than the $55,340 Lincoln Navigator SUV but has a higher ownership cost due to its higher depreciation rates and poor fuel economy.
Another pertinent finding sometimes overlooked by consumers: The cost of ownership far outweighs the initial price. Prospective buyers would do well to remember that the $58,400 Infiniti FX50 will have an actual cost of $85,152 after five years of paying for gas and maintenance to keep the vehicle running well.
In Pictures: Costliest Cars To Own