Suv Buyers Guide: Gas Prices, And How That Should Affect Your Decision

A look at how fuel consumption will impact your wallet.

While shopping for a new vehicle, you consider the finer aspects of an SUV, or Sport Utility Vehicle. Most of the major automobile manufacturers have produced at least one model, some have produced several, and the selection is staggering.

These vehicles come equipped with the latest in modern comforts and entertainment including DVD players, seat warmers, anti-theft devices, remote starting capability, and GPS tracking, to name a few. Along with these luxuries comes a price tag to match, and the range will vary as greatly as the optional equipment. Unfortunately, the spending doesn't end there.

Since SUVs are designed with a broader range of capabilities than an average family sedan, such as beefier suspensions, larger engines, heavier frames, and larger interior spaces, the fuel consumption tends to be greater. While this might not be a primary concern, it is worth taking a look at the numbers and potential financial impact over time.

Fuel prices vary considerably over short periods of time and somewhat radically over long periods of time. If you intend to operate an SUV over the course of years and use it for the majority of your travel intentions, it will be worthwhile to take a look at the numbers that will impact your wallet.

An average size SUV will have a fuel tank with a capacity in the range of 22.5 gallons when full. Using an historical value for fuel at $1.50 per gallon, filling your tank from empty will cost $33.75. Several months later the oil commodities market experiences a wild fluctuation based on OPEC output estimates and fuel prices rise to $2.20 per gallon. It will then cost $49.50 to fill the same fuel tank.

Now, let's take those numbers and extend them over time. If your daily commute to work requires you to fill your tank twice a week, at $1.50, your weekly fuel cost will be $67.50, or $270 per month. At the higher rate of $2.20, your weekly fuel costs will be $99.00, or $396 per month. It may seem like mere pennies at the pump, but as you can see, the weekly and monthly costs can change dramatically.

Taking these numbers and expanding the comparison to a yearly view, the numbers are more striking. A $270 a month fuel bill will then become an annual $3,240 fuel bill. A $396 a month fuel bill becomes $4,752 yearly. The difference between the two is $1,512; a not immodest sum. When you add in other extraneous travel, such as trips to the market, social events, and family vacations, fuel costs will become much higher.

An SUV may be the perfect choice for your specific vehicular needs. Their safety performance, versatility, and spacious interiors make them attractive for many people. As you shop for your next vehicle, and perhaps an SUV, it would be wise to keep in mind the after-purchase costs that could impact your budget substantially. Your monthly fuel costs could realistically be equivalent to your car payment, and depending on your monthly mileage rates, could exceed that figure. As you consider the potential car payment and insurance costs into your monthly budget, be sure to take a close look at the impact fluctuating gas prices could have, and figure that in as well.

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