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The 10 Most Expensive Cars to Own

There is often a big difference between “price” and “cost.” For example, the cost of a new automobile is what you pay to drive it off the dealer’s lot (price), plus what you pay for gas, insurance, maintenance and repairs over time. Ironically, some high-end cars have such poor gas mileage, are so temperamental and are so expensive to finance and insure that their long-term costs can be up to 33 percent more than their sticker price.

Recently, the website 24/7 Wall Street teamed up with Edmunds.com to calculate the 10 most expensive cars to own over time. They took into account sticker price, fuel costs, insurance, repairs, etc. The results are not for the faint of heart.

In ascending order, here’s the list:

Nissan GT-R

10. Nissan GT-R
One of the hottest sports car models in the U.S., the Premium two-door Coupe AWD GT-R has an MSRP of $91,830 but can cost $117,892 to own over five years. That’s a difference of $26,062.

Ranger Rover HSE


9. Range Rover HSE

The Range Rover HSE SUV doesn’t have a particularly high list price for a luxury car — $88,862 – but it gets lousy gas mileage (14 mpg) and often costs more than $4,000 to repair over five years. As a result, its true cost of ownership over five years is a projected $118,185, a difference of $29,293.

BMW ActiveHybrid 7

8. BMW ActiveHybrid7
Being a hybrid, the BMW ActiveHybrid7 has decent gas mileage (20 mpg), but insurance, taxes and financing costs drive its $101,545 sticker price up to $122,076 over five years. Haven’t heard of this car? It’s not a big seller. Only 118 were registered in the U.S. as of 2011.

Mercedes Benz G550 SUV

7. Mercedes-Benz G-Class
The G550 SUV gets really lousy gas mileage (13 city/highway mpg, and just 11 in the city) and is a bear to finance ($12,000 over five years). Its total cost of ownership over five years is $126,714, $17,814 higher than its $108,900 sticker price. Still, this luxury SUV is a popular vehicle; it’s been in the Mercedes-Benz catalog since 1979.

Lexus LS 600h L

6. Lexus LS 600h L
This is the hybrid version of Lexus’ “flagship” sedan. It has earned four out of five stars for quality from J.D. Power and a maximum five stars for design. But with an MSRP of $119,109, it’s already one of the most expensive production cars in America. And even with its good fuel economy (20 mpg), it has a five-year cost of ownership of $129,542.

Mercedes Benz 550 SL

5. Mercedes-Benz SL-Class
Around since 1954, the SL was long a top-seller among Mercedes-Benz’s top luxury nameplates. The 550 convertible appeared in 2007. Oddly, ownership has plunged from 5,600 in 2007 to less than 1,500 in 2011. This could have to do with the cost of ownership: $129,588 over five years, $22,870 more than its $106,718 list price.

Mercedes Benz CL

4. Mercedes-Benz CL-Class
Another Mercedes? Damn, those cars are expensive! The CL-Class has the fourth-highest purchase price, fourth-highest finance interest and third-highest cost of maintenance of all cars sold in America. That may explain why the number of CL-Class cars on the road has dropped from 3,200 in 2007 to 980 in 2011. Oh, the total cost of ownership? It’s $142,558 over five years, $20,887 higher than its already intimidating $121,671 MRSP.

BMW Alpina B7

3. BMW Alpina B7
We’re starting to enter nosebleed altitude now. The Alpina’s suggested base price is a handsome $133,445. Add another $19,705 in insurance and financing costs over five years, and you have a total cost of ownership of $153,150. Think that’s high? Wait! You haven’t seen the…

Audi R8

2. Audi R8
Base price: $170,175. Total cost of ownership: $193,429. The $23,254 difference includes $7,370 in projected maintenance costs. Even so, that’s nothing compared to the grand champion:

Mercedes Benz SLS AMG

1. Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG
Yep, it’s another Mercedes! The SLS AMG’s total cost of ownership over five year is $245,469 –that’s nearly a quarter of a million dollars! – compared to its already staggering $210,875 MSRP. But a lot of people want to be #1 – or at least be associated with it – which is why registration of the AMG actually jumped to 707 in 2011 from 470 just one year earlier.

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