Everyone is enamored with SUVs these days, especially car-based crossovers. From all perspectives, it looks like it will be a long-term love affair. Analysts predict that SUVs and crossovers could account for 50 percent of all new-vehicle sales next year, with 180 separate models of all stripes expected to crowd showroom floors by 2023.
But as savvy new-vehicle buyers know, determining which of this burgeoning inventory of tall-roofed people movers delivers the most value for the money is more complicated that simply comparing sticker prices and features lists. You’ll need to look deep into a given model’s long-term operating costs to determine what you’ll actually pay to own it over time.
We profiled the passenger cars that are predicted to cost their owners the least amount of money over time in a separate post. Here we’re featuring the cheapest-to-own SUVs and crossovers from 11 market segments in the accompanying slideshow. All figures cited are based on the 2019 Five-Year Cost-to-Own analysis conducted by the valuation experts at Kelley Blue Book.
As with cars, KBB breaks down predicted ownership costs by category. The biggest expense is depreciation, which is the difference between a vehicle’s original cost and its estimated resale value five years down the road. Choosing a model that will bring back a larger stack of bills at trade-in time virtually guarantees lower long-term costs. The spread looms the largest among more-expensive vehicles, simply because there’s more money at stake to lose.
And if you’re leasing an SUV, rather than buying one outright, picking a model that will hold onto its value tenaciously can result in lower monthly payments. That’s because they’re based largely on the difference between a vehicle’s transaction price and what it’s expected to be worth at the end of the term.
While SUVs generally perform well in terms of retaining a larger percentage of their original values than do passenger cars, their fuel costs can be much higher. A lot of this has to do with their added heft and less-slippery aerodynamics, compared to most coupes and sedans. For example, while the Jeep Wrangler is expected to retain a stellar 61 percent of its manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) after five years, by then it will have cost an owner over $11,000 at the fuel pump, based on 15,000 miles driven annually.
Other ongoing expenses considered by Kelley Blue Book include insurance premiums, financing costs, registration charges, and what a motorist will pay for maintenance and repairs.