As much as $4,000 per year can separate the low-cost driver from the high-cost driver, according to Runzheimer International, a transportation consulting firm.

The firm selected a compact, a midsize, and a full-size car to analyze annual driving costs in low-, medium-, and high-cost territories, based on 20,000 miles of driving a year.

The driver of a compact car in a low-cost region incurs total annual costs of $5,792, compared with $10,020 for a full-size car in a high-cost area. The expenses include operating costs (fuel, oil, tires, maintenance) and fixed costs (insurance, license, registration, depreciation, taxes, financing).

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