The average cost to own and operate a medium-sized car has risen 4.8 percent since last year to 56.6 cents a mile, or $8,487 a year, according to AAA’s annual cost study.

The amount was based on 15,000 miles of driving each year.

The study found a small car costs 43.3 cents a mile, or $6,496 a year, while a four-wheel drive SUV is the most expensive, at nearly 74 cents per mile, or $11,000 a year.

Increases in the cost of fuel, tires and insurance were the primary factors causing a rise in all categories of vehicles, said AAA. At the time of the study, the national average cost of regular unleaded gas was $2.60 per gallon, nearly 13 percent higher than the cost of fuel in last-year’s study. The average cost of insurance coverage also rose 5.7 percent over last year, while tire costs increased about 9 percent.

The small-sedan category had the smallest increase from last year, only 2.9 percent. It was the only category where depreciation costs were lower than last year, falling nearly 2 percent.

The small sedans chosen for the study by AAA, based on the top-selling models, were the Chevrolet Cobalt, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Nissan Sentra and Toyota Corolla.

SUVs experienced the biggest hit in depreciation. They experienced a 10.7 percent change in their depreciation rate and are now losing an average of $5,003 in value per year.

AAA has been publishing its “Your Driving Costs” analysis since 1950, when a car driven 10,000 miles a year cost 9 cents per mile and gasoline was 27 cents a gallon.


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