Do You Really Need a Truck or Monster SUV?


Car sales are booming and gas is cheap (although who knows for how long), there’s new advice on which automobiles will have the lowest total ownership costs.  Your car is one of the greatest consumers of your wealth.  By now, hopefully people understand that a car is not an investment.  Anything that costs you money instead of making you money is not an investment.  On the other hand, if you are a business owner and use a vehicle exclusively for deliveries, then that vehicle is hopefully making you money.

The trusted magazine Consumer Reports has new numbers on the most affordable cars to buy.  The hands down winners based on total 5-year cost of ownership are the Toyota Prius and the Honda Fit.

Various cars cost varying amounts to operate per each mile. The average vehicle costs more than $.60 cents per mile! Some luxury cars cost around that average, while other luxury rides cost 3 times the average cost per mile!  The true cost of owning a car includes the purchase price, depreciation, fuel costs, maintenance costs, insurance costs, etc.

By comparison, the Fit and Prius cost around ~$.40 cents per mile to own and operate.

So what other cars are relative “deals” regarding ownership expenses over 5 years?

According to Consumer Reports:

  • Compact cars: Scion xB, VW Golf, Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Subaru Impreza
  • Midsize: Subaru Legacy, Mazda 6 and Honda Accord (4 cylinder)
  • SUVs: Subaru Forester and Honda CR-V
  • Minivans: Mazda 5

The full list is available here: Consumer Reports.

The real shocker is which vehicles are horrible to own: The Ford F-250 pickup truck has a cost per mile of $1.16. That is some serious money. If you drive and average of 12,000 miles a year, you’re talking almost $14,000 a year to own and operate that truck!  Hey, if you really need a truck to haul some heavy loads occasionally, you can always rent one for a weekend.  How often do you really need the capacity of a gas guzzling, large SUV or pickup truck?  The other day I saw a woman loading bags of mulch into the trunk of her 4 cylinder Porsche Boxster!  I’m not saying get a Boxster in lieu of a pickup truck, but just pointing out that someone with one of the smallest cars on the road is making Home Depot runs!

Written by Jeff