Getting a car that is reliable can't be overstated. There is nothing worse than having to take your car into the mechanic time and again and the costs associated with that. Not only are there the repair bills, but also the cost of finding alternative transportation while the car is being worked on. Finding a car with a high reliability will save you both money and time over the life of the car.
The amount of money that you will save depends a lot on how much you drive, but with gas prices seemingly rising every year, the better the gas mileage that your car gets, the more money you are going to save when driving. It's best to compare the gas mileage that cars that are in the same class to see which ones have the advantage in this area. While you don't necessarily need to purchase the car with the very best gas mileage, you do want one that is one of the ones that gets better gas mileage on average than most of the other cars in the class.
Another important factor is how well the car holds its value. Cars are considered depreciating assets which means that over time, they decrease in value. While they decrease in value, they don't all decrease in value at the same rate. Quality cars tend to hold their value better than less reliable ones and are easier to sell when it's time to get rid of them. Looking at the history of a car model's resale value will give you a good indication what it will be worth when it's time to upgrade to a newer car.
The safety of the car wouldn't appear on the surface to be something that would save you money, but it definitely does. Safer cars cost less to insure since there is less chance of bodily injury during an accident. If there is an accident, a safe car can keep you from spending countless hours in the hospital and all the costs associated with that.