It's been about a year since Americans dealt with high ($4+ a gallon) gas prices. Since then, prices of regular gas at the pump have declined and are now averaging around $2.70 per gallon in the U.S.

Because of the downward trend, car buyers have started to steer their eyes and wallets towards large trucks and SUV's again. But is it really time to trade in your small, fuel efficient car for that awesome SUV that you've had your eye on for years? Realistically, it comes down to a couple of boring yet practical questions: How badly do you need a bigger vehicle, and can you handle the expense if fuel prices rise again?

Even with Predictions, Gas Prices are Unpredictable

"Predicting oil prices is always fraught with peril." –Jason Bordoff, The Washington Post

Some reports are speculating that oil prices could stay as low as they are currently for up to two years, and possibly longer. However, there are factors in play that could effectively change everything.

  • Environmental Concerns: Why are gas prices so low right now? The major reason is due to the utilization of the great reserves of natural gas that exist right here in the U.S. The only problem is that this resource can only be obtained through hydraulic fracturing or "fracking," an invasive process that is largely considered to be environmentally destructive. In fact, many groups are actively lobbying to make fracking illegal.
  • Global Politics: Even though having access to more resources at home will lessen this country's dependence on foreign oil, it will, by no means, end it. First of all, the extraction of natural gas from shale (fracking) is expensive to execute on a large scale, and it is not the only reason why fuel prices are low right now. These prices are also reflecting the market's perception of reduced risk for Iraqi oil exports and an increase in Libyan oil exports. So, any political unrest from that part of the world could lead to gas prices going up again.
  • Supply and Demand: Simple economics still stand. Even if we have more oil available (right now, anyway), if consumers start to use more oil (traveling more, driving less fuel efficient vehicles), this will drive prices up just like it always has.

To see a cost breakdown of what you might spend on gas in a small car vs. an SUV, refer to the table below. Assume these vehicles are being driven 200 miles a week, for a year. The small car is estimated to get 30 miles (highway and city) per gallon in gas mileage, while the SUV gets approximately 20 miles.

Price per Gallon

Small Car



$4 (for One Year)




$3 (for One Year)








Real Reasons to Buy (or Not to Buy)

If lower gas prices have you slavering over a monster-sized truck or SUV, you may want to consider the motivation behind your desire to make that purchase and whether or not it really makes the most sense. If you have a job that requires you to haul a large amount of equipment around on a regular basis, having an SUV or a bigger truck might be a legitimate benefit and an option that is worth considering. However, if your only interest in owning a giant vehicle stems from wanting to "look cool" while driving it, you may want to reconsider the potential downside.

Need a Car, Any Car?

If the money that you're currently saving at the pump has you thinking that maybe it's time to trade in your old, unreliable car for something safer and more trustworthy, we can help you make that happen. At Auto Credit Express, we can assist you in finding affordable financing regardless of what your credit history looks like. All you have to do is fill out our fast and secure online application to get started today.