BURNSVILLE, MN – AAA's 2008 edition of "Your Driving Costs" shows the cost of driving a passenger vehicle in the United States has increased 1.9 cents per mile in the last year and now averages 54.1 cents per mile.

"While the cost of some driving expenses declined since the start of 2007, higher gasoline prices have more than offset these savings and pushed the overall cost of vehicle ownership and operation higher this year," said Gail Weinholzer, director of public affairs. In 2008, AAA estimates it will cost $8,121 to own and operate a new passenger car driven 15,000 miles per year. This compares to $7,823 per year in 2007, or 52.2 cents per mile.

Costs for maintenance, full-coverage insurance, and depreciation are slightly lower this year. While the costs for fuel, tires, financing, license, registration, and taxes showed increases.

AAA's study calculates the average costs of owning and operating five top-selling models in three popular class sizes: small, medium, and large sedans. The results show that consumers have an opportunity to save money by switching from larger models to smaller vehicles.

For example, AAA's research shows the annual average cost of driving a small sedan is $6,320 per year, while a large sedan costs $9,769 per year. Similar savings can be realized by driving a minivan instead of a larger and less-fuel efficient SUV. AAA estimates the annual expense of owning and operating a typical minivan at $8,644 per year versus $10,448 for a four-wheel-drive mid-size SUV.

AAA's study calculates the average costs of all expenses associated with owning and operating a vehicle over five years and 75,000 miles of driving.

The "Your Driving Costs" brochure can be downloaded from AAA's public affairs Web site, www.aaaexchange.com.