Generally speaking the $17K figure is correct.
Bear in mind that those dollars give you the right to use a certain amount of DVC points EVERY SINGLE YEAR for up to 50 years into the future.
With 160 points you could spend up to 11 consecutive nights in a Savanna View Studio Villa (which is comparable to a standard hotel room) at the Animal Kingdom Villas. That's 11 nights every single year.
Exact point usage varies depending upon season, day of the week, resort, the category of room booked and other factors. That's just one example. We've used our DVC points to book 1200sq ft Two Bedroom villas which sleep up to 9 guests.
All DVC ownership does end at some date in the future (date varies by resort.) Some would view this as a negative but it can also be a positive. For many people it means not leaving a potentially unwanted timeshare behind for heirs to deal with. It also means that you (or your heirs) won't be paying for maintenance and upkeep on resorts that are 80-100 years old.
There are cheaper ways to buy DVC other than paying the $17k. DVC will actually sell a contract as low as 100 points at select resorts. That should cost under $10,000. Or you can go through a resale broker and purchase an even smaller contract.
Although the terms aren't particularly enticing, DVC will also finance a direct purchase. The initial purchase of 160 points will run you about $250 per month when financed over 10 years. After the 10 years you only pay the annual dues which presently run $4-5 per point.
The initial purchase is a big obligation to meet. However, once that amount is paid off you're vacationing for pennies on the dollar. Going back to my original example, 160 points could get you 11 nights in a Studio villa at the Animal Kingdom Lodge / Villas. With annual dues of $5 per point, the out of pocket expense for those 11 nights is only $800 or $72 per night. Cash guests won't get a Savanna View room for anywhere near that price.