How much does it cost to own a car in 2014?

By: Kim Peterson
By: Kim Peterson

(CBS) -- You're paying more for a summer barbecue, a fast-food burrito and a new Netflix subscription this year, but behind the wheel you're getting a bargain.

That's because it's actually gotten cheaper to own a car, according to a new study by AAA. It now costs an average of $8,876 to own and drive a typical sedan, or 2.7 percent less than the $9,122 it cost last year.

Why the drop in price? It's mostly because gas was expected to be cheaper. AAA based its study on a per-gallon rate of $3.278, which was the price in late 2013. That compares with the $3.486 used in last year's report. Drivers are also seeing lower costs for tires, insurance and depreciation than in the past, John Nielsen, AAA managing director of automotive engineering and repair, told CNBC.

Of course, gas prices are now higher than the rate AAA factored into its report. The average price for a gallon of regular is $3.652 nationwide, compared with $3.576 a year ago. Unless that changes dramatically, AAA's cost estimate for 2014 may come in on the low side.

AAA also factors other expenses in for its report, including routine car maintenance, tire replacement, depreciation, financing and licensing, registration, and taxes. It also adds in the typical insurance paid by a married 47-year-old man with a good driving record who lives in a small city and who drives three to 10 miles daily to work.

In short, estimating the cost of owning a car isn't an exact science. But AAA develops the report to help people make better car-buying decisions and to help them budget for annual vehicle costs. It's been publishing its "Your Driving Costs" report since 1950, when gas sold for 27 cents a gallon.

This year's costs vary depending on the size of the vehicle and how much gasoline it consumes. Here's the breakdown of the different categories and their annual costs, according to AAA:

Small sedan
Typical model: Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus or Honda Civic
Cost per mile for gas, maintenance and tires: 16.3 cents
Total cost per year (assuming 15,000 miles driven a year): $6,957

Medium sedan
Typical model: Ford Fusion, Honda Accord or Toyota Camry
Cost per mile for gas, maintenance and tires: 19.1 cents
Total cost per year (assuming 15,000 miles driven a year): $8,839

Large sedan

Typical model: Chrysler 300, Ford Taurus or Nissan Maxima
Cost per mile for gas, maintenance and tires: 21.7 cents
Total cost per year (assuming 15,000 miles driven a year): $10,831

SUV
Typical model: Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee or Nissan Pathfinder
Cost per mile for gas, maintenance and tires: 23.8 cents
Total cost per year (assuming 15,000 miles driven a year): $11,039

Minivan
Typical model: Dodge Grand Caravan, Honda Odyssey or Kia Sedona
Cost per mile for gas, maintenance and tires: 21.4 cents
Total cost per year (assuming 15,000 miles driven a year): $9,753


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