With the economy in its current state, many are looking for ways to save money. From cutting out expenses, conserving electricity, couponing, and even downgrading products from name brand to off-brands there are many ways people are cutting costs. One downgrade many don’t think about may be sitting in your driveway. Your vehicle is a tool, an investment and an expense. With gas prices soaring, insurance rates on the rise and commutes becoming a common trend, the vehicle you drive may be a cost you can cut corners on.

When the economy was stable many made the decision to purchase large SUV’s, faster cars with larger engines, and didn’t worry about the higher insurance rates, rising gas prices, or cost of maintenance, as they were still affordable. However, with everyone tightening their belts and trying to keep their money in their wallets, downgrading your current money sucking vehicle might help you save money.

In today’s economy downgrading from a large SUV to a smaller sedan can save you a considerable amount of money annually. For an example I compared the cost of fuel and operation of a 2006 Chevy Trailblazer, 2wd, 6cyl, 4.2L engine, and the 2006 Chevy Cobalt 4cyl 2.2L engine. I chose this particular year and model for reasons such as possibility of current ownership of the Trailblazer as well as the possibility of finding a deal on the Cobalt today.

To reach a result I took into consideration the current cost of fuel at $3.41 per gallon, 34 miles of daily driving for 5 days a week, 49 weeks a year with 45% of those miles being highway driving, as well as including 3,596 spare miles for traveling at 80% highway.

The results were enough to consider downgrading. The annual cost of operation and fuel for the Chevy Trailblazer totaled an estimated $7,100; the Chevy Cobalt totaled $5,540. Therefore, downgrading to the smaller sedan would show an annual savings of $1,560.

These savings will never go down, but rather increase as gas prices, maintenance costs, and insurance rates continue to rise. To some that doesn’t seem like enough of a savings to constitute a change. However, if taking into consideration the average lifespan of a car is 12 years, and the 2006 models are 5 years old, that will give you another 7 years of use and bring the combined savings to $10,920 for the remainder of the cars life. That is $10,920 saved for making one change.

Many who currently own these larger SUV’s utilize the size perhaps once or twice a year. The amount of space in the sedans is adequate for everyday use such as grocery shopping, road trips, and everyday uses. Most 4 door sedans can comfortable seat 5 adults. For those with the need to seat larger families, downgrading from an SUV to a 4cyl Minivan can also prove a money saving choice. Even though the savings won’t be as substantial, it will still be easier on your wallet.

If you are looking for ways to cut current costs, are not utilizing the true potential of your large SUV or van, perhaps downgrading is the option for you. With gas prices on the rise, insurance rates ever changing, and the cost of vehicle maintenance increasing, you may want to consider your mode of transportation. However, for arguments sake, let’s take a look at upgrading to a new vehicle. With the growing popularity of hybrids and the technological advances with electric cars, I compared the Trailblazer to a 2011 Chevy Volt. The annual savings by switching to a Chevy volt totaled $3,575. So perhaps even upgrading to a newer model is the right choice for you.

Marcie McDonald is an insurance consultant who writes for cheapestcarinsurance.org.uk and highly recommends checking online for car insurance comparison sites. This one even includes a classic car insurance comparison.