You’ve got to look beyond a vehicle’s sticker price to garner the best long-term deal.

While most new-vehicle shoppers concentrate on a car or truck’s transaction price, the truly sharp knives in the block work the bottom line aggressively to determine which models under their consideration will prove to be the least expensive to own in the long run. This includes comparing the costs of depreciation – how much the vehicle will have lost in value at trade-in time – fuel, insurance premiums, maintenance charges, state fees, and out-of-warranty repair bills.

This is especially important if you’re looking at a luxury car, as the more expensive the vehicle, the more important differences in certain ownership costs become over time – particularly depreciation and insurance premiums – simply because there’s more money at stake to lose. And with gas prices considerably higher than they were a year ago, fuel expenses are again becoming more of a significant factor in long-term ownership costs.

To help consumers find the best overall deals, Kelley Blue Book issues its annual Five-Year Cost to Own Awards in each of 15 separate vehicle classes. The website tracks new vehicles’ depreciation, fuel costs, insurance costs, financing, repairs, maintenance, and average state sales taxes and registration fees over a five-year ownership period for all makes and models, and even computes a per-mile expenditure for easy comparison. We’re featuring the least costly to own passenger cars in each market segment for the 2018 model year in the accompanying slideshow; figures cited are for base models with standard powertrains and equipment. We’ll highlight the thriftiest SUVs, pickup trucks, and minivans in a separate post.

Decisions, decisions: