Generally speaking, cars that are the least expensive to own need a combinations of factors IMO, working in their behalf. None of which might include performance, handling, economy etc. If you ask a Corvette owner whether his car was less expensive to own, he might very well say no. Ask him if he was satisfied with his purchase, the answer might very well be yes. What is more important imo, is driver satisfaction.
My Brother has proven to me that his Ford Ranger pick ups, 4 of them over many years, were the cheapest trucks to own compared to other compact trucks. Being an acountant, I saw his meticulous records many times over. But, EVERYTIME we went some where in one, I had to listen to his litney of complaints about it’s performance and ride. When it came time to buy another, money always overoad his choice and he would buy another. The difference was, in the spring time, I had to pick him up in town to drive in through the mud with my Toyota to our house for dinner as he was so fearful his truck ouldn’t handle it…rightfully so. So, if your vehicle is inexpensive to own, you more often, get what you pay for !
For me, one of the cheapest cars to own was my Suzuki Sidekick. It performed well, but when it did need repairs, I got tired of waiting for parts. That factor was enough for me to leave the Suzuki brand in Other products, outboards included. Suzuki made cars that were inexpensive to own. Now where are they ? Soon, nowhere to be found in the US. Cars in general had better perform well and be enjoyed by their owners, or they will follow suit regardless of their cost.