ROADS REPORT: The numbers don’t lie

Whether you’re shopping for a sedan, truck or luxury car, there are more numbers to consider than just the price

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David Matthews has been chronicling the unexpectedly humorous side of transportation news for his Roads Report column since 2000. The stories are all true.

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Size matters
Shopping for a new vehicle can quickly become overwhelming. Fortunately the Roads Report Statistical Analysis department has reviewed recent consumer trends to determine the ideal vehicle for 2012.
Forbes’ list of best sellers is a good place to start. Last year, the best-selling automobiles in America were the Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado, Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima and Ford Escape.
Apparently motorists still can’t decide between size and efficiency, but one thing is for sure: Nobody wants a Honda.
MSNBC reports that the top five worst-selling vehicles of 2011 were all part of the Honda family. The Acura RL, TSX and ZDX took the top three honors, followed by the Honda Ridgeline and the Honda Civic Hybrid. Ouch.


Pain at the pump
With $4 gas on the horizon, the cost of fueling a new vehicle has never been a bigger consideration. So what are the costliest cars to fuel each month?
Excluding exotic supercars like Bugattis and Bentleys, it’s no surprise that Edmunds.com’s fuel-cost database finds that trucks and SUVs are the least efficient. The Ford F-150 might be a best-seller, but it’s also tied for first place on the 2011 gas-hog list with the Chevy Suburban and GMC Yukon XL, all of which have a staggering estimated monthly fuel cost of $341 (or the equivalent of your electric bill, water bill, cable bill, this week’s groceries and Saturday night’s pay-per-view cage fight).
Next on the list was Nissan’s Armada and Titan, each costing an estimated $291 per month to fuel. That’s still considerably higher than the Toyota Camry Hybrid, which had the lowest estimated cost at just $102 per month, so you can afford to watch that cage fight.


Five-finger discount
Then again, if thieves steal your new car, strip it for parts and leave it in a fiery inferno by the side of the road, you’ll probably miss the pay-per-view anyway.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau released its annual report on “theft claim frequency,” or the number of thefts or break-ins reported for every 1,000 vehicles on the road.
The 2011 winner and four-time defending champion is the Cadillac Escalade. Runners-up include the Ford F-250, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Ford F-450 and the GMC Sierra 1500.
Often thieves are not targeting these vehicles themselves but rather just the blinged-out wheels or some expensive electronics left inside.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the car least likely to be stolen is the Audi A6, followed by the Mercury Mariner, Chevrolet Equinox, Volkswagen CC and the Lexus RX 350.


Protecting your investment
Yet another issue for car buyers is the cost of insurance. Not surprisingly, Forbes said the costliest cars to insure are also some of the most expensive.
The Mercedes SL-Class takes the prize, with an average annual premium of $3,500 to insure the SL65 AMG. Next is the BMW 750, the Mercedes S65, Aston Martin DB9 and the Mercedes CL600.
If you want to save money on insurance, you’ll have to check your pride at the door.
Forbes ranked the Chrysler Town & Country LX as most affordable at just $1,100 per year, followed by the Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey LX, Nissan Murano SL and Jeep Wrangler Unlimited.
Now, with all this data in mind, our Statistical Analysis department has determined that the ideal car for 2012 is a hybrid station wagon.
It’ll be good on gas, cheap to insure and no one in their right mind will ever want to steal it. R&B

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