They say you can’t judge a book by its cover. Nor can you judge a car’s real value by looking no further than initial cost. To arrive at a vehicle’s true worth, you have to delve a little deeper. Just as some buyers like to take a look under the hood before buying, we recommend looking “under the hood” of a car’s real costs of ownership and operation to arrive at your true, long-term costs.


That’s why we offer objective assessments of the relative costs of ownership for our vehicles versus similar, competing models. What you discover might surprise you. Take the Toyota Hybrid Camry SE. Despite a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) that may be slightly higher than that of some close competitors, overall the Camry Hybrid actually costs less in the long run. Why? Because there’s far more to the real cost of owning and operating a car than sticker price. Some cars simply retain more value longer than others. Some cars cost less to maintain and operate. Some cars require fewer repairs than others.


When you look at all those factors, objectively, you see that despite a slightly higher initial cost, the Toyota Camry Hybrid SE is actually a better value; you’ll actually save you money in the longterm, compared to the Camry Hybrid’s closest competitors.
Consider the Camry Hybrid versus the Honda Accord Hybrid (comparisons based on 2014 models—the latest year for which we have data). The projected five-year cost of ownership for a Honda Accord Hybrid is more than $1,500 greater than for the Toyota Camry Hybrid SE. What about Camry Hybrid versus Ford Fusion Hybrid SE? The difference is even more dramatic: the Ford will end up costing you more than $2,500 more, despite a slightly lower initial cost.


Or consider the Toyota Camry Hybrid SE versus the competing Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. Initial cost is similar, but in the long run, the Hyundai will end up costing you nearly $3,100 more to own and operate. That sounds like real money to us. How about you?