Gas: An Expense Many in the U.S. Don't Seem to Factor Into Purchasing Decisions

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by Lisa on July 29, 2015
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When I was getting my hair cut someone commented that she used to give her son $300 a month for gas, and he recently told her that just wasn’t enough. I told her that it cost us just $27 to fill up the tank of our Prius, and that lasts us for at least two weeks. She said to me, “Huh. You know what, why don’t we think about the cost of gas when we buy our cars?”.

Of course, some might also wonder why she’s giving her son gas money and not making him earn it, but that’s a totally different topic. Her question got me thinking. I put together a list of the top-selling cars in the U.S. in 2014 and the gas cost per month. Now, of course, these are averages and cost can be higher or lower based on where you live, but do you notice an interesting general trend?

  • Best-selling cars in the U.S. in 2014 and estimated monthly gas expense*:
  1. F-Ford Series Pick-up – 753,851 units sold – 18 mpg combined – $187
  1. Chevrolet Silverado – 529,755 units sold – 19 mpg combined – $178
  1. Chevrolet RAM – 439,789 units sold – 16 mpg combined – $210
  1. Toyota Camry – 428,606 units sold – 28 mpg combined – $121
  1. Honda Accord – 388,374 units sold – 30 mpg combined – $112
  1. Nissan Altima – 335,644 units sold – 31 mpg combined – $109
  1. Honda CR-V – 355,019 units sold – 26 mpg combined – $129
  1. Toyota Corolla – 339,498 units sold – 31 mpg combined – $109
  1. Honda Civic – 325,981 units sold – 33 mpg combined – $102
  1. Ford Fusion – 306,860 units sold – 29 mpg combined – $116
  • Best MPG Automobiles

And here are the most efficient, per Car and Driver:

Chevrolet Cruze 2.0L Diesel 6AT – 46 mpg – $73

Ford Fiesta SFE 1.0L 5MT – 45 mpg – $75

Mitsubishi Mirage 1.2L CVT – 44 mpg – $77

VW Passat 2.0L TDI Diesel 6MT – 43 mpg – $78

VW Golf 2.0L TDI Diesel 6AT/6MT – 42 mpg – $80

Just for kicks, here are some of the worst miles per gallon cars on the road (excluding high-end, wickedly bad mileage cars like the Aston Martin or Lamborgini) and monthly gas expense*:

Chevrolet Camaro – 14 mpg – $241

Toyota Tundra 2WD/4WD – 15 mpg – $224

BMW 760Li – 15 mpg – $224

Nissan Xterra 4WD – 17 mpg – $199

Clearly, putting some thought into miles per gallon can make a significant impact on monthly expenses. Many critics contend that the estimates for miles per gallon aren’t real world, as they base these on running the car without niceties like A/C or heat. Thus, what’s on this page likely shows lower expenses than one would actually have if they bought one of these cars.

Miles per gallon is an important factor when shopping for a car. Especially if monthly budget matters to you. And, if you are car shopping for your child and expect that one day they will take on the gas expense, then miles per gallon definitely should be factored into any purchasing decision.

When the environment and health of future generations are considered, miles per gallon should be a priority for us all. So, why isn’t it a priority for most Americans? If auto companies started seeing folks placing a priority on miles per gallon, I’d bet we’d start seeing far more automobile options designed to burn less fuel.

*Based on an average 15,000 miles per year (or 1,250 miles per month) and today’s AAA average gas price of $2.70 (July 28, 2015). All units sold information sourced from Autoblog All miles per gallon combined information from fueleconomy.gov

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Lisa Lippiner covers driving news for DMVCheatSheets.com
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