This year's 5-Year Cost to Own champion in the subcompact car category is technically smaller than a subcompact, but larger, roomier and more practical than its minicar competitors. The Chevrolet Spark competes with cars like the Scion iQ and Smart Fortwo, but offers the sizable advantage of four doors.
And those two extra doors open up to a surprisingly roomy back seat. Not the ideal place to spend a long road trip, perhaps, but more than accommodating for 4-person local excursions. When cargo considerations are more important, folding down the Spark's rear seats allow it to accommodate all the spoils of a big-box shopping spree.
Its low starting price is a key factor in the Spark's cost-to-own advantage, but even a base Spark is well-equipped with features like air conditioning, power windows, 15-inch alloy wheels, OnStar, and a 60/40 split-folding rear seat.
The Spark's infotainment offering is another highlight. The Chevrolet MyLink system incorporates an attractive, easy-to-use 7-inch touchscreen and was the world's first car - along with its Chevrolet Sonic big brother — to offer Siri integration, allowing iPhone users to dictate and send text messages at the push of a button on the steering wheel, among many other functions. And navigation is just $50, via smartphone app.
Even when including destination charges, the 2014 Chevrolet Spark still starts under $13,000. Its small 84-horsepower 4-cylinder engine won't win many drag races, but highway fuel economy up to 38 mpg is a daily victory.
The tiny Scion iQ is an urban runabout in the extreme, but also offers two very small rear seats for friendly flexibility.
The Toyota Yaris is pricier than the Spark and iQ, but that's because it's a size larger. The most affordable Toyota combines practicality, longevity and style.