ORLANDO, Florida — The annual cost of owning and driving a car in the U.S. has reached a six-year low, according to a new report from AAA.
The annual Your Driving Costs study for 2016 found that it now costs an average of $8,558 per year to operate a small, medium or large sedan.
That comes to approximately $713 per month, or 57 cents per mile, based on 15,000 miles of driving, according to AAA, which cites the relatively cheap cost of fuel as the primary reason for the record low.
"Thanks to lower gas prices, American drivers can expect to save hundreds of dollars in fuel costs in 2016," said John Nielsen, AAA's managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair, in a statement. "Fortunately, this annual savings more than offsets the moderate increases in maintenance, insurance, finance charges and other costs associated with owning and operating a vehicle."
AAA says that the cost of fuel is down 24.62 percent since last year's study, while car insurance is up 9.60 percent, maintenance is up 3.33 percent and vehicle depreciation is up 2.87 percent.
Although $8,558 is the average cost of operating a sedan, those who drive small cars are paying significantly less. According to AAA, models like the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra and Toyota Corolla cost owners an average of $6,579 annually to operate.
In addition to calculating the annual cost of sedan ownership, the AAA study also took a look at select models of SUVs and minivans.
Four-wheel-drive SUVs in the report included the Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Nissan Pathfinder and Toyota 4Runner, and those vehicles averaged $10,255 in annual costs, while minivans, such as the Dodge Grand Caravan, Honda Odyssey, Kia Sedona, Nissan Quest and Toyota Sienna, will cost owners $9,262 per year to operate.
AAA notes that it has been publishing Your Driving Costs annually since 1950. Back then, it says, driving a car 10,000 miles per year cost 9 cents a mile, and gasoline sold for 27 cents per gallon.
Edmunds says: This AAA study should provide useful information for shoppers as they visit their local dealerships.