You can be saved a large number of dollars by understanding an expensive car's price over time.

Occasionally spending more up front on a car can really cost you less in the long run. The trick is understanding when to invest.

It's relatively easy to see which cars cost more to buy initially. But it is harder to know how much you'll get soaked in repair, insurance, maintenance and depreciation, and sometimes even fuel. Consumer Reports' owner-cost estimates bring to light all these hidden costs over 1, 3, 5, and 8 years of possession.

And they contain some surprises. As an example , a four-cylinder Mazda6 family sedan may seem like a good deal, at a price $1,900 less than a similar Toyota Camry. However, the total expense of possessing the Mazda for five years is $2,000 higher than the Camry. Likewise, you'd save more than $5,000 over the long haul by buying a Toyota Highlander SUV, rather than a Dodge Journey that costs $1,600 less up front.

The variables contained in our owner price estimates are average upkeep and repair prices, fuel, interest on funding, insurance, sales tax, and depreciation you can't find anywhere else. Because depreciation is factored in our estimates, we suppose that the vehicle will be traded in at the ending of the period (after three, one, five, or eight years) . Regardless how long you own your new car, checking out these approximations can save you tens of thousands of dollars by the time you sell it.

Costs fluctuate among models that are similar

Below are some other remarkable discoveries we made in our evaluation:

Over the first five years of possession, the median automobile costs to possess--about what it costs to possess an upscale sedan such as the Lexus ES or a midsized SUV like the Nissan Murano. But it's simple to locate nice cars that cost considerably less. Sporty cars including the foundation Mini Cooper can cost as few as $5,800 a year to own.

Keeping a car for eight years, rather than five, can reduce median possession prices significantly to merely $7,800 a year on average. This is somewhat due to lower depreciation prices, and due to keeping the car for a couple of years following the loan has been paid off.

One of the least expensive cars to own in our estimate is the little Honda Fit, which costs just over $5,300 a year to possess for five years. It combines a relatively low purchase price with great fuel economy, low depreciation, exceptional reliability, and fairly low repair and upkeep costs.

Paying more for a hybrid can save you money--provided that you choose the best hybrid vehicle. She's the author of the books, "Whispers of the Soul," "A Slice of Life," "Whispers of the Soul for the remainder of Your own life," "From Where I'm Sitting," "View from the Sidelines," "Reaching for the Brass Ring of Life," "Purple Days and Starry Nights," "Here and There," "And that is the way that it Goes," and "The Counseling Effect."Most mainstream hybrids that are not SUV or luxury versions cost less to own over five years than cheap exotic cars their traditional counterparts that are less expensive. (Two exceptions are the Chevrolet Volt and Honda Insight. It takes six or seven years, respectively, to compose the purchase price that is added in fuel savings for those cars.)

Big and luxury SUVs have the greatest ownership costs by far, a year, frequently amounting to more than $13,000. Pick-ups of all kinds aren't far behind.

While Hyundai and Kia versions have long warranties and low costs, the economies in many cases are offset by poor resale values.

Most Lexus models have relatively high maintenance and repair costs (mainly because of care), despite their excellent dependability. The Lexus ES350 racks up a mean of $2,300 in care and repair in the first five years, about twice most expensive production car what you'd pay on a Buick LaCrosse.