According to the American Automobile Association, the cost to own and operate an average sedan in the U.S. went up by 1.9 percent during the last year. The AAA's recently completed 62nd annual "Your Driving Costs" study found that owners shelled out 59.6 cents per mile - 1.1 cents per mile more than in 2011, a bump that took the total annual outlay to $8,946 for a vehicle driven the benchmark distance of 15,000 miles.

"The average driving cost for 2012 is up due to relatively large increases in fuel and tire costs, and more moderate increases in other areas," said John Nielsen, AAA director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. "Those increases were offset by a decrease in depreciation resulting in an overall increase of 1.9 percent."

"Some driving costs fluctuate at different times during the year, such as what we have experienced with fuel prices since the middle of February," explained Nielsen. "However, AAA's use of a consistent methodology for its study allows an accurate comparison of driving costs from year to year, and the figures can reliably be used to compare different categories of vehicles."

Key metrics that played a major role in shaping the AAA's final bottom-line figures included a 14.8 percent jump in the price of fuel, a 4.2 percent rise in the cost of tires and a 3.4 percent rise in insurance rates. Maintenance costs were up by a modest 0.7 percent. Helping counter the upside swings was a significant 4.9 percent decrease in depreciation.

In addition to calculating the composite 15,000-mile costs for the prototypical "average" sedan, the 2012 AAA study includes breakout numbers for five individual vehicle categories. Not surprisingly, the least expensive turned out to be Small Sedans, a group that cost 44.9 cents per mile for a $6,735 annual total outlay. Next up was Medium-size Sedans (58.5 cents/$8,780), Minivans (64.3 cents/$9,504) and Large Sedans (75.5 cents/$11,324). Topping the charts was the SUV/4WD set that tallied 75.7 cents per mile driven and rolled up $11,360 in total annual costs. For complete details on the 2012 AAA "Your Driving Costs" study or to download the brochure, visit: http//

The AAA published its first "Your Driving Costs" study in 1950, a time when gasoline was just 27 cents a gallon and the average vehicle driven 10,000 miles annually averaged 9 cents per mile to own and operate.


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