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Ongoing costs - - for insurance, repairs and fuel - can vary markedly from one vehicle to another.  Ignore those differences and you could vastly underestimate the cost of ownership. 

By Kathy M. Kristof, Personal Finance

If you're thinking about buying a car this year, you're far from alone. Auto sales appear to be ramping up after a couple of fairly lackluster years.

But with the economy still on tenterhooks, consumers may want to pay careful attention to auto economics, said Jack Gillis, author of "The Car Book," an annual compendium of information on auto safety, reliability and costs.

The price of the car is an important consideration, of course. But ongoing costs — for insurance, repairs and fuel — can vary markedly from one vehicle to another. Ignore those differences and you could vastly underestimate the cost of ownership, Gillis said.

Consider, for example, two luxury sedans. The Dodge Charger has a manufacturer's suggested retail price of about $38,000, according to The Lexus HS 250h, a hybrid, costs $35,600. Does that mean there's a mere $2,400 price difference between the two? Hardly.

The Lexus gets roughly 35 miles to the gallon in both city and highway driving, while the Charger speeds through fuel about twice as fast, getting just 13 miles to the gallon in city driving and 19 on the highway. With gasoline prices near or past the $4-per-gallon mark, the consumer who drives about 15,000 miles annually is going to spend roughly $1,700 on fuel each year with the Lexus but about $3,750 on the Charger. That's more than $2,000 in additional costs every year you own the less fuel-efficient car.

The differences don't stop there. The Charger is also one of the most expensive,0,1315050.column

Contact Cliff Cottam Insurance Services to find how much your insurance will cost - - before you purchase a car.  Just call us at (800) 807-6871 for a free no obligation consultation.  You can also complete our online Auto quote form.

Posted 11:42 AM

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