Managing the Financial Side of Commercial Fleets

Detroit, Philadelphia, and LA Most Expensive Cities to Own Mid-Size Sedans

December 05, 2008

ROCHESTER, WI – Detroit, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles are once again the most expensive places to own and operate a 2009 mid-size vehicle, with yearly costs exceeding $13,000, according to the latest analysis by Runzheimer International, the Wisconsin-based firm specializing in total employee mobility.

Driving a mid-size car in the Detroit area costs $13,199 per year, with Philadelphia next at $12,265 and Los Angeles as the third most expensive at $12,068. Operating expenses include operating costs (fuel, tires, and maintenance) and ownership costs (insurance, depreciation, license, and registration fees).

In sharp contrast, driving this same vehicle in Sioux Falls, Bismarck, and Grand Forks costs the owner under $9,000. The cost difference between the most expensive (Detroit costs $13,199) and the least expensive (Sioux Falls costs $8,763) is $4,436.

The three highest cost cities in Runzheimer's analysis of more than 100 U.S. cities all share high auto insurance rates as one common factor. Detroit rates for liability, comprehensive, and collision insurance are $4,759 annually; Philadelphia rates are $3,734; and Los Angeles rates are $3,021.

There is also a wide variation in the cost of vehicle maintenance across the country. Assuming labor rates and normal service, maintenance and tires for a vehicle driven 60,000 miles over four years range from a high of nearly 7.82 cents-per-mile in San Francisco, Calif., to a low of 5.03 cents per mile in Bismarck, N.D.

2009 Annual Vehicle Costs in Select U.S. Locations* 



Total Annual Costs








Los Angeles










$ 9,077



$ 9,049


Eau Claire

$ 8,988



$ 8,926


Sioux Falls

$ 8,764


*The costs above are based on a 2009 Ford FUSION SEL FWD, 3.0L six-cylinder 4-door sedan equipped with features such as automatic transmission (six-speed), AM-FM stereo with 6-disc CD changer and MP3, cruise control, automatic air conditioning, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, driver power seats, dual front airbags, aluminum wheels, keyless entry, rear window defroster, power door locks and windows, leather seats, moon/sunroof, security system, traction control, and anti-lock brakes. Costs include operating costs: fuel, oil, tires, and maintenance, as well as fixed costs: insurance, depreciation, taxes, license, and registration fees. Factors are based on operating the vehicle for four years with an average of 15,000 miles driven per year within a 50 mile-radius of the city.  

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