Now vs. ThenNow vs. Then Same car, same fuel efficiency, but it costs 562 dollars more – a 51 percent increase – to drive those same 15,000 miles every year. And that dollar figure jumps when the vehicle gets bigger.
To listen to the media and the man on the street, one would think that the spikes in fuel prices have had a catastrophic impact on our economy.
They would be right.
Consider that, thanks to the price of oil – and subsequent lift in gas prices – the cost of living has zoomed. Everything’s up, from heating to hamburgers, gas prices being the most visible cost increase, thus drawing the most ire from consumers. Within the context of today compared to last year, drivers are getting hit with a substantial fuel “tax.”
Say you’re driving around in a Toyota Camry. In 2004, a new Toyota Camry conserved fuel at a clip of around 28 miles per gallon. That’s based on what the EPA calls “Your MPG,” a feature where drivers input their own average fuel economy. One year later, the mpg number stays the same. Same car, same fuel efficiency, but it costs 562 dollars more – a 51 percent increase – --to drive those same 15,000 miles. And that dollar figure jumps when the vehicle gets bigger:
2004 Toyota Camry – 28 mpg: $2.05 per gallon: $1,098
2005 Toyota Camry – 28 mpg: $3.10 per gallon: $1,660
(Toyota Camry with four-cylinder engine and automatic transmission)
Gas price increase: $562
2004 Ford F-150 – 15 mpg: $2.05 per gallon: $2,050
2005 Ford F-150 – 15 mpg: $3.10 per gallon: $3,100
(Ford F-150 with 5.4-liter V8 engine, automatic transmission)
Gas price increase: $1,050
2004 Chevrolet Tahoe – 13 mpg: $2.05 per gallon: $2,365
2005 Chevrolet Tahoe – 13 mpg: $3.10 per gallon: $3,576
(Chevrolet Tahoe with 5.3-liter engine, automatic transmission)
Gas price increase: $1,211
Obviously, those with more fuel-efficient vehicles have fared better since the price hike. But even with a four-cylinder Camry, the annual “tax” is almost $600, virtually the same as making an extra car payment or two. With consumers suffering from price increases in virtually all other areas of life, that $600 makes a big difference. And if you’re driving a truck or a large SUV, it hurts much more, to the tune of $1,000 or more per year.
Most people don’t have an extra $1,000 lying around the house to feed a gas hog.