I thought the following Edmonds.com article on the true cost to drive would be of interest to hybrid.com readers:

"True Cost to Drive
The Total Driving Cost of a 3,000-Mile Road Trip
By editors at Edmunds.com
Date Posted 09-20-2005
With gas prices soaring, you, like many Americans, might be looking for the cheapest way to travel. You might be considering driving versus flying. Or you might be considering canceling your trip altogether.

But wait! Before you pull the plug on a family vacation or business trip, take a cold, hard look at the True Cost to Drive (TCD) figures for your car. Using the current national average of $3.20 per gallon of regular unleaded gas, and pulling in related maintenance costs, Edmunds.com has computed what it costs for a 3,000-mile road trip. This is roughly the distance from San Diego to Seattle and back with a few diversions along the way.

This revolutionary concept was inspired by an e-mail we received from a reader who said, "I am trying to compare the cost of flying to our vacation destination and driving and need to consider the total cost to drive, not just the cost of gas."

Edmunds.com's data team took the information contained in its popular True Cost to Own feature to figure how much fuel would be used. Gas mileage is an average of the EPA's highway and city driving estimates. We then assumed that the 3,000-mile trip would push the vehicles closer to critical maintenance points, and included a fraction of these costs as well. The spreadsheet we generated presents the fuel cost, maintenance costs, the total amount for this 3,000-mile trip and the average cost to drive per mile.

TCD could be calculated for all cars. But with literally thousands of trims we decided to keep it simple and calculated the TCD at the model level. Thus, we don't have figures for the Honda Civic Hybrid or any other hybrid powertrain placed in an existing model.

The 2005 Honda Insight, the first hybrid on the market, has the lowest TCD with a fuel cost of only $157, maintenance costs of $78 for a total of $235. The 2005 Toyota Prius came in second with fuel costing $179, maintenance at $71 and a total TCD of $250. The lowest all-gas powertrain vehicle was Toyota's 2005 Echo, which used only $251 worth of gas, required $71 of maintenance, for a total of $322. Meanwhile, the 2005 Pontiac Sunfire/Chevrolet Cavalier had the lowest TCD figures for a domestically made car with fuel costing $296, maintenance $82, for a total of $378.

The most expensive vehicle to drive on this 3,000-mile road trip was the 2005 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 (we didn't have enough data on the Hummer to include it). Fuel alone for the Silverado cost $771, while maintenance was $130 for a not-so-grand total of $901. Finishing in a very close second place was the 2005 Dodge Ram Pickup 1500 SRT-10, which actually used more fuel ($777), but the maintenance costs were lower ($88) for a lower total of $865.

So, what do you do with this information? First, keep in mind that, depending on the vehicle you own, numerous people can be transported for this amount. Compare this to the cost of shopping for airplane tickets; one person's airfare could easily run way over these TCD figures. On the other hand, it's important to understand that it will take nearly 43 hours to drive 3,000 miles if you drive 70 mph. What is your time worth? And don't forget about hotels and meals that will have to be purchased along the way.

While many costs and factors may remain unknown, at least you now have a realistic idea of the true driving costs. With this in mind, you can budget for your next vacation, or business trip, with more accuracy.

True Cost to Drive Spreadsheet"