The price of gas nationally continues to hang in the $3 a gallon range. So what are drivers doing? Buying more SUVs for summer vacations.
In a report last week on NPR's Morning Edition, the editor-in-chief of Car and Driver magazine explained the surprising numbers. According to Csaba Csere, today's most popular sport utility vehicles are a different animal.
The best-selling SUV models, said the C&D editor, are the Honda CRV, Ford Escape and Toyota RAV4, all of which are smaller vehicles. Also, most SUV sales now are crossovers, based on car platforms, not trucks, so they get better gas mileage.
As for the problem posed by a long-planned family vacation and high gas prices, most folks are simply toughing it out and going ahead with their travel despite the increased costs.
Just where is the pump price pain point that will make us dramatically cut our road trips? $4? $4.50? $5?
What about you personally? Are you just still hitting the highway for your summer break despite gas costs? Be sure to take our summertime travel poll (upper right corner of the page) and tell us how you plan to get to your destination.
Hybrids heating up, too: In May, Toyota posted record passenger-car sales, including best-ever results for its gasoline-electric hybrid Prius.
The Japanese automaker sold just over 24,000 of the popular vehicle, more than all other hybrids combined, and that made the Prius the ninth top-selling U.S. model last month. At that rate, according to Morgan Stanley analysts, Toyota could move 244,000 Priuses a year.
Looks like the loss on Oct. 1 of the hybrid tax credit for Toyota's fuel-efficient vehicles won't make much difference to fans of the auto manufacturer.
Industry experts say the Prius' dominance also means that other car companies will need new marketing tricks to win over consumers who still balk at hybrids' higher price tags.
Or they could just give up. That's what Honda is doing, in part anyway.
Later this year, Japan's number two automaker is discontinuing its Accord hybrid sedan line. The vehicle, available only in North America, has sold 25,000 units since going on sale in 2004; as noted earlier, Toyota sold almost that many Prius hybrids last month alone.
Honda will, however, continue to make gas-and-electric Civic sedans. And the company says it plans another hybrid competitor for the U.S. market in 2009.
Gas tax boundaries: Where you drive definitely affects your fuel price, in part because of the various state fuel taxes. This compilation will give you an idea of what charges you'll face as you move across state lines.
Climbing commuter costs: If New York officials have their way, it won't just be vacationers paying to visit the Big Apple.
NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to charge cars $8 and trucks $21 each to drive in certain areas of Manhattan (aka the congestion zone) between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. The plan is similar to the London driver charges (blogged about here) that have been in place since 2003.
Bloomberg's proposal has been endorsed by Gov. Eliot Spitzer and federal transportation officials. New York City could get as much as $500 million in federal grants for a pilot congestion pricing plan; that would pay the program's full start-up costs.
Some other politicians, however, are not as thrilled with the proposal, labeling it a regressive tax on middle-class residents. And do I even need to tell you what residents of the neighboring boroughs who drive into jobs in the designated Manhattan zone think of the proposal? Fugeddaboutit!
You can read some resident's congestion zone questions at the NYTimes' Empire Zone blog.