Although gas prices are finally retreating, the run-up of your fuel costs in the first quarter of 2012 was both alarming and annoying. I think we are all used to the roller coaster ride that has become gas prices. We just were not used to seeing it until summer, when the traditional driving season is going on.
In 2008 when we hit $4 per gallon the first time, your choices for something fuel-efficient, other than a hybrid, were not good at all. It was a stripped down little econo-box, most likely. The automakers have worked hard to change all that since then, and today we are seeing some incredible cars that are getting great mileage. Just two years ago, I was talking on-air about some nice cars that would get 35-miles per gallon. Today, that is old news and I am marveling over cars that are doing 40-miles per gallon.
AAA just came out with their annual survey of driving costs. They cite different reasons why it costs more to drive this year than a year ago. Gas prices of course are part of the cause of that. Other factors included tire prices going up, insurance going up, and maintenance costs rising. The survey is based on averages, but there are things individuals can do to lower their personal cost of transportation.
A car that gets better mileage than the current car can cut your costs in many cases as long as your car payments do not increase, that is something you have to weigh out. If you have a car that is requiring a lot of maintenance and repair expenses, a new car can really save you money overall.
There is no reason to think that you have to spend a fortune on a new car to get something fuel-efficient and fun to drive. It doesn’t have to be an ugly car either, and you can get leather seats and navigation if you wish.
Looking back at some cars that fit this category are the new 2012 Camry, the Chevy Cruze, the Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra, Honda Civic and a host of others in the 35-40 MPG range. Those are cars that anybody would be proud to drive. They are also loaded with the newest safety features.
In the coming months, we are going to see a lot of new entries into the market. Some will be soft hybrids, like the 2013 Chevy Malibu or 2012 Buick Verano. Both those cars get 37-miles per gallon and neither car is small. There will also be a lot of new entries in the all-electric car arena and for people with short commutes, that might be an alternative.
My main message for today is to take the time to look at all aspects of your transportation costs. I have seen few cases where people can’t cut their cost of driving with just a little effort. It might be shopping for insurance, it might be trading for a new car, it might even be leasing a new vehicle that is fuel-efficient.
If you do go the way of getting something new, look around at the cars that get great gas mileage and drive a few. You will find that the current choices of cars that get good mileage ride well, handle well, have more options, and are much quieter than what you may think.