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Driving ain't Cheap

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Pedaling is not only good for the environment and your health, it is good for your bank account.

The average cost of driving a vehicle is 68.9 cents a mile/$6,890 a year for a 2004 model car, AAA's annual "Your Driving Costs" study shows.

In its yearly study, AAA calculates what it costs to own and operate a vehicle for 10,000 miles of annual driving and five years of ownership before trading it in.

AAA has reported on the average estimated cost of owning and operating a new car each year since 1950.

The study takes into account gas, oil, maintenance and tires as well as insurance, depreciation, financing charges, license, title, taxes, registration and plates.

The national average for all vehicles is 68.9 cents a mile/$6,890 a year for a 2004 model car, up from 64.2 cents a mile, or $6,420 a year, for an '03.

Costs vary depending on the size of the vehicle. AAA says it will cost you:

• 56.8 cents a mile for a compact car such as a Chevrolet Cavalier, up from 55.3 cents a mile for an '03. That translates into an annual cost of $5,680 to own and operate a compact for '04, up $150 from $5,530 for an '03.

• 71 cents a mile for a midsize car such as a Ford Taurus, up from 62.1 cents for '03. That's $7,100 a year, an $890 increase from $6,210 for an '03.

• 79 cents a mile for a full-size car such as a Mercury Grand Marquis, up from 75.2 cents a mile for a full-size 2003. That's $7,900 for the year, a $380 increase from $7,520 for the '03.

• If, like so many others, you've opted for a sport-utility vehicle, the cost per mile for a midsize 2004, such as a Chevrolet TrailBlazer, will run 72.7 cents, or $7,270 a year. That's up $730 from $6,540 for an '03.

• A full-size SUV wasn't included in the study, but AAA calculated the cost and found that for an '04 Ford Expedition, it would be 65 cents a mile, or $6,500 a year, up from 63 cents a mile or $6,300 a year for an '03.

• Those who choose minivans will spend 64 cents a mile, or $6,400 a year, to own and operate a Dodge Caravan, for example. That's a $430 increase from 59.7 cents a mile and $5,970 a year for an '03.

Due to recent skyrocketing gas prices, AAA said actual costs are a little higher now because the study was conducted when gas was priced at $1.51 a gallon. The Boise average for a gallon of regular was $1.88 on Tuesday.

For full details of the AAA study, visit www.aaa.com.