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Subaru’s 5-10 Year Cost Of Ownership Is Higher Than All But One Other Mainstream Brand

Subaru is one of the lowest cost-to-own auto brands in the first 5 years, but costs jump in years 5-10. See how it ranks with other automakers.

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The Subaru Forester has been rated the lowest 5-year cost-to-own vehicle in the Compact SUV category by Kelly Blue Book, and Subaru takes the title for the lowest 5-year cost-to-own brand two years in a row according to KBB. Autobytel ranks the Subaru Impreza sedan and 5-Door compact as one of the top-10 lowest cost to own cars in the first three years of ownership.

Kelley Blue Book’s 5-Year Cost to Own data for new cars is for the initial five-year ownership period, and in its research, Subaru vehicles incurred fewer costs than all mainstream automaker’s lineups. Costs include fuel, maintenance, repairs, financing, insurance and one of the biggest factors of all, depreciation. All are factored in a vehicle’s total ownership costs.

Watch how much will it cost you to own a Subaru in the first 5 years of ownership and how the cost jumps between the year 5 to 10. Also, please click to subscribe to Torque News Youtube channel for daily automotive news reports.

What happens after the first 5 years of vehicle ownership?

It’s common sense that as a vehicle gets older the maintenance costs will go up. It’s why many car shoppers lease a vehicle for 3 years or trade their car in after 5 years (60-month financing). Subaru’s 5-10 year cost of ownership cost jumps up more than most mainstream automakers according to a study by Consumer Reports (by subscription).

2020 Subaru Forester2020 Subaru Forester is the lowest 5-year cost-to-own compact SUV

Consumer Reports looked at data from 25 car brands by asking car owners how much they paid out of pocket for total maintenance (oil changes, etc.) and repairs over the past 12 months. The average cost for a 5-year-old (2015 model) is $200. The average cost for a 10-year-old (2010 model): $458.

2020 Subaru Forester

Subaru vehicles incurred total out of pocket maintenance costs of $267 in year 5, and $500 in year 10 according to the survey. Of the 25 car brands, Subaru ranks number 17 highest in repair costs. Subaru’s 5-10 year cost of ownership Is higher than all but one other mainstream brand; Volkswagen. Luxury brands, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Mini, Volvo, Buick, and Infiniti were the other brands with higher maintenance costs in years 5-10 of ownership above Subaru.

Which brands are the lowest cost to own from 5-10 years?

The top-10 lowest cost to own brands in years 5-10 are Chrysler ($175/$208), Lincoln ($159/$290), Toyota ($200/$291), Mazda ($207/$300), Kia ($140/$317), Nissan ($185/$336), Hyundai ($208/$340), Dodge ($175/$345), Honda ($203/$370), and GMC ($205/$381).

Subaru takes the title for the lowest 5-year cost-to-own brand, and the Subaru Forester and Impreza are the lowest cost to own models. If you plan on keeping your all-wheel-drive Subaru longer than 5 years, costs will go up more than most other mainstream automakers according to Consumer Reports.

You Might Also Like: Your Complete 2020 New Subaru Vehicle Shopping Guide

Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. All of his reports are archived on our Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Subaru Report. Check back tomorrow for more Subaru news and updates at Torque News!

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mike j (not verified)    April 8, 2020 - 8:22PM

Of course the 5 year cost is's covered under warranty (except for normal wear items). Of course it's very high after that because everything that has been an issue for the past 20 years hasn't been addressed such as wheel bearings, throw out bearings, CV joint boots, leaking head gaskets and other electronics including bad solder joints. Truthfully, if you are handy, it's actually quite cheap. A dealer gets you for close to $500 for a wheel bearing and you can get one for $50 and do the complete job in less than an hour, which is probably less time than it takes you to drive to a dealer and drive home.

Mr White (not verified)    July 8, 2020 - 2:45AM

In reply to by mike j (not verified)

Cars get much cheaper to own once they're paid off. When they deprecate enough, you can get only liability insurance and spend even less. The 5-to-15-year costs of a still-newish and still-reliable Subie are the sweet spot: the reason you bought it in the first place. Otherwise you'd lease a Beamer over and over.

Shawn Christopher (not verified)    April 8, 2020 - 9:57PM

MY 2007 Outback is a money pit and the problems are never quite resolved. my 2002 camry on the other hand has had no problems.

Carlton Jones (not verified)    April 8, 2020 - 11:05PM

Mine is been very low. In years 5 to 10, I've spent 2 to 300 dollars a year, including frequent oil changes and all manual specified maintenance, including transmission and drive system oil changes. Only one minor repair in 10 years, a gas tank vapor filter.

Paul Mullen (not verified)    April 8, 2020 - 11:58PM

This tells us nothing about what the maintenance cost of a new Subaru will be in 10 years. It is a reflection of the Subarus that were made 10 years ago. There are stories of problems with head gaskets on older Subarus, which would have a big impact on ownership costs.

Harry Movios (not verified)    April 9, 2020 - 5:47PM

In reply to by Paul Mullen (not verified)

2010 Legacy. Head gasket issue. Had to replace two engines. Now mileage sitting at 359k. First engine replacement failed just after the 6 month warranty. Not happy at all. As soon as I can going to replace the car with a non Subaru vehicle

DANA L FRANCEY (not verified)    April 9, 2020 - 6:01AM

I bet tires play a role here... 1 bad pothole or sidewall and youll need $700 of replacements and install for all 4 wheels.

John Pecore (not verified)    April 9, 2020 - 6:59AM

Agree to disagree. I purchased a 12 Impreza brand new and it's approaching the 100k mile mark soon. After owning Ford, Chrysler and GM products it has been the least expensive car to maintain. Besides routine maintenance with tires, brakes and oil changes it's only gone through a wheel bearing and a muffler. That's really nothing in 8 1/2 years. Plus, it has a timing chain so no expensive timing belt replacement soon.

Dave Suton (not verified)    April 9, 2020 - 5:58PM

In reply to by John Pecore (not verified)

Funny. I bought a Subaru thinking that if the advertisements were correct, I would have little or no problems. Unfortunately that's not the case. Wheel bearings, infotainment system, stalling, and really bad gas mileage. I don't even take it on long trips for fear it won't make it. My older Ram pickup and my wife's Buick each have over 150k trouble free miles. Anyone want an overhyped subaru?

KD (not verified)    April 10, 2020 - 2:44PM

In reply to by Dave Suton (not verified)


I purchased a new 2018 Outback because of the overhyped "reliability". The car had a dent and the dealer tried to scam me by pretending it was not there. The outside temp sensor is crap. it was replaced and is still not accurate. both passenger and driver's side front window rails had to be replaced because the windows would not roll up. The airbag in the steering wheel got dislodged from its housing and was rattling around under the subaru emblem on the wheel. All of this in the first 5-6 months of purchase.

It has costed me many days and stress of waiting at the dealership and arguing with dumb jerks in the service center after one of them said that the above list are not really problems, but the "car's character".. WTF?!?!

it is a good thing that SoA GAVE me 8 year bumper-2-bumper with $0 out of pocket otherwise i would have unloaded this car at a loss.

I will never buy another subaru!

Naren Persaud (not verified)    March 28, 2021 - 11:48AM

In reply to by Dave Suton (not verified)

I was caught with the lies too. Same problems you mentioned. Also, Subaru will not honor their work. Toyota, NISSAN and Mazda much more reliable and back up their work. Subaru worst Japanese brand

Msrc (not verified)    March 29, 2021 - 8:36AM

In reply to by Joe (not verified)

For every complaint here against Subaru there are thousands of satisfied customers that don’t even know about this website.

Gold plus warranties can make a difference. 10 year with $100 means for years 4-10 I’m locked at $136 a year outside of maintenance which shouldn’t be counted (all gas cars need oil changes, filter changes, etc)

Chester Q Nuggets (not verified)    April 9, 2020 - 9:53AM

There's no way a Chrysler has a lower 5-10 year cost. They don't even last 5 years typically without major repair. If this study is just looking at maintenance costs sure, any vehicle brand that's not bottom-barrel is going to cost a bit more to get maintenance done. I'd pay a little more in maintenance to not have to have major engine or transmission repairs in that 5-10 year mark.

Michael Grimm (not verified)    April 9, 2020 - 11:15AM

In reply to by Chester Q Nuggets (not verified)

It because at that point they realize they bought a pos and no longer care about taking care of it. Or as I've observed, it was the cheapest option when they bought it and they can't afford proper maintenance now.

Kyle Dowling (not verified)    April 10, 2020 - 12:36AM

In reply to by Chester Q Nuggets (not verified)

I was quite surprised too. My dad's 2015 town and country had the transmission fail before 70,000 miles and everything shakes when you take it above 50mph. Talk to anyone with a brain and they'll steer you clear of anything Chrysler owned.

HW (not verified)    April 9, 2020 - 10:37AM

2012 non-turbo Forester basic with 91.5k miles and automatic, only repair item to date is right rear wheel bearing at 89k miles for $300. Everything else were maintenance items or normal wear. Head gasket problems fixed with the new FB engines.

Mark (not verified)    April 9, 2020 - 11:06AM

This is one of the best kept secrets; that no one pays attention to..... resale value is only important if you intend to sell.

If your approach is to turn your car back in for a brand new car every 5 years, you're going to wind up paying the highest price for driving a vehicle.

Of course costs do go up for older cars, but, I've discovered that driving my car for 15 plus years really does lower the overall cost per mile. Cars today are very expensive, but, they have the capability of going 200,000 miles with care and proper maintenance. My 2 cents.

Mike (not verified)    April 9, 2020 - 11:13AM

I think this could also somewhat be related to how much Subie owners love and care for their cars. I'm in year 7 and I would say aside from oil I've needed tires twice but only because the Goodyears were defective. 85k miles, 2014 XV. (TBI, timing CHAIN! yay!) One set of brakes. One half-shaft under warranty, the other side is clicking now. One battery. I've put off flushing out every fluid. I will do myself soon.

Suman (not verified)    April 11, 2020 - 2:34PM

In reply to by Krad (not verified)

Yes, that's what I want to know too. What items go bad, when, and on what models?

I have a 2015 BRZ I bought new, and so far - knock wood - it's needed nothing but oil/filter changes every 6k miles, new air/cabin air filters at 30k miles, and a new set of tires at about 40k miles.

RickL (not verified)    April 9, 2020 - 11:53AM

As an owner and lover of 4 Subi's since 1999, I applaud the author for bringing this fact to life. For me, its the dreaded head gasket issue that is the driver for the longterm high costs. Both my 1999 Forester and my 2010 Forester experienced this problem at around 10 years of age (but at very, very low mileage). The repair is upwards of $2,000. While I have heard rumors that this problem has been corrected over the years, I see no evidence that my current cars (18 Crosstrek and 20 Forester) will escape the same fate. My plan is to keep these cars no more than 5-10 years each for this precise reason. While I love and will continue to buy Subaru, this article is the first I have seen that educates buyers on what I believe are the facts.

Michael Grimm (not verified)    April 9, 2020 - 1:42PM

In reply to by RickL (not verified)

With direct injection I think newer Subies (as well as other brands) are going to have intake valves sticking because of egr junk not getting washed away by gasoline. The fuel economy regulations are causing manufactures to make many expensive changes including LOOSER tolerances and engines that burn oil brand new! I don't think the consequences of better gas millage are going to be worth it! Happy I have a natural aspirated throttle body injection model! It may be weak but at least it should last!