When you’re in the market and looking for the cheapest used SUVs to own, where do you start?

One of the best ways to calculate the cheapest used SUVs to own is to utilize a tool from Edmunds, the True Cost to Own pricing system. TCO, as it is called, is easy to use. Simply select the make, model, year and style and the pricing system will show you the summary and details on a five-year cost to own. These details will include depreciation, financing and maintenance costs. You’ll have to factor in costs for fuel, insurance and repairs, and any costs for taxes and fees. Still, it’s a quick way to get an overview of the particular used SUV you’re looking to buy.

In the meantime, we’ve gathered a few examples of some of the cheapest used SUVs to own, based on cost of ownership data available through several sources, including a look at Kelley Blue Book’s Best Resale Value Awards winners. For the 2010 model year, Edmunds published the Lowest True Cost to Own list, and it’s a good place to start. Here are some of the publication’s top picks for 2010 in the SUV categories:

  • 2010 Honda CR-V – In the SUV under $25,000 category, the editors at Edmunds selected the 2010 Honda CR-V compact crossover SUV. Diving into the details of the Edmunds TCO for this vehicle, in base four-door V-6 all-wheel drive, shows a used True Market Value of from $18,004, while five-year ownership costs are estimated at $38,286. This is based on a five-year estimate with 15,000 miles driven per year. Kelley Blue Book named the 2010 Honda CR-V one of its top 10 Resale Value Awards, and again in 2011.
  • 2010 Jeep Wrangler – For the category of SUV $25,000 to $35,000, the clear winner was the 2010 Jeep Wrangler sport utility. The rugged and quirky Wrangler may not be the best daily driver, but it’s incomparable off-road. Edmunds data shows a used TMV from $17,250 and a five-year TCO estimated at $45,134. In the 2012 Kelley Blue Book Best Resale Value Awards, the Jeep Wrangler is among the top 10, holding 68.0 percent of its resale value at 36 months and 55.0 percent at 60 months. The Wrangler also made the top 10 for 2011.
  • 2010 GMC Acadia – In the SUV $35,000 to $45,000, Edmunds editors selected the 2010 GMC Acadia full-size SUV. If you’re looking for a three-row family SUV, the GMC Acadia, in Edmunds used TMV calculations, is from $23,938, while five-year estimated TCO is $49,427.
  • 2010 Acura MDX – And in the SUV over $45,000 category, the publication’s editors chose the 2010 Acura MDX luxury SUV. A solid choice for a luxury midsize SUV, the Acura MDX has an Edmunds used TMV from $35,422, with five-year estimated TCO at $62,161.

Interestingly, a Money Watch article in CBS News by Jerry Edgerton points out that resale value and insurance are important considerations for budgeting vehicle costs. If you expect to sell your SUV or trade it in five years or less, depreciation matters a lot. And insurance costs vary widely. Don’t be surprised by higher-than-expected insurance premiums, particularly if you’re looking at upper-end or luxury SUVs.

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