GoBanking Logo
GoBanking Logo

Best (and Worst) Cities for Car Lovers

chinaface / Getty Images

When it comes to choosing the best and worst cities for car lovers, there are some choices that are just obvious. New York, for example, has outstanding public transportation — along with high taxes and lots of traffic — making it a clear front-runner for the title of worst city for car lovers. But on the other side of the equation, not many would easily name a small city in middle America as the best place in the country for car lovers.

GOBankingRates analyzed the 75 most populous cities in America using nine factors to calculate the best and worst states for car lovers. Part of the formula involved considering the percentage of households that had access to between zero and four or more vehicles, along with typical factors such as average commute time, gas prices and registration fees. These are the cities that make vehicle owners smile the most.

Last updated: Feb. 18, 2020

EpicStockMedia / Shutterstock.com

The Best Cities for Car Lovers

Low costs, breezy commute times and easy access to vehicles all combine to make these 25 cities the best places to own a car.

It’s no doubt hard for San Francisco residents, who are stuck with the highest gas prices in the country at $3.84 per gallon, to imagine paying $2.16 for that same gallon of gas in Plano, Texas. Residents of Minnesota’s Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, who pay the highest typical registration fee in the country at $471.61, are no doubt jealous of the two cities in Colorado — Aurora and Colorado Springs — that have no fee at all.

If you’re looking to keep your vehicle costs low and spend less time in your car, check out these cities.

arinahabich / Getty Images/iStockphoto

25. Aurora, Colorado

  • Average commute time (minutes): 29.3
  • Average gas price: $2.41
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 141.4
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $8,722.97
  • Typical registration fee: $0

RoschetzkyProductions / Shutterstock.com

24. Austin, Texas

  • Average commute time (minutes): 24.1
  • Average gas price: $2.32
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 130.6
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $8,056.71
  • Typical registration fee: $50.75

23. Indianapolis

  • Average commute time (minutes): 23.1
  • Average gas price: $2.40
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 103.8
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $6,403.42
  • Typical registration fee: $21.35

JonnyNoTrees / Getty Images

22. Anchorage, Alaska

  • Average commute time (minutes): 18.9
  • Average gas price: $3.07
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 117.2
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $7,230.07
  • Typical registration fee: $50

Vito Palmisano / Getty Images/iStockphoto

21. Nashville, Tennessee

  • Average commute time (minutes): 24.6
  • Average gas price: $2.39
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 115.9
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $7,149.87
  • Typical registration fee: $23.75

Kruck20 / Getty Images/iStockphoto

20. Charlotte, North Carolina

  • Average commute time (minutes): 25.3
  • Average gas price: $2.33
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 112.6
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $6,946.29
  • Typical registration fee: $36

TriggerPhoto / Getty Images/iStockphoto

19. Kansas City, Missouri

  • Average commute time (minutes): 21.80
  • Average gas price: $2.25
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 101.70
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $6,273.87
  • Typical registration fee: $51

Davel5957 / Getty Images/iStockphoto

18. Fort Worth, Texas

  • Average commute time (minutes): 27
  • Average gas price: $2.23
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 135.80
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $8,377.50
  • Typical registration fee: $50.75

SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images/iStockphoto

17. San Antonio

  • Average commute time (minutes): 24.10
  • Average gas price: $2.23
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 116.90
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $7,211.56
  • Typical registration fee: $50.75

Sean Pavone / Getty Images/iStockphoto

16. Raleigh, North Carolina

  • Average commute time (minutes): 23.40
  • Average gas price: $2.42
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 100.10
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $6,175.17
  • Typical registration fee: $36

Steve Debenport / Getty Images

15. Arlington, Texas

  • Average commute time (minutes): 27.20
  • Average gas price: $2.23
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 136.30
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $8,408.35
  • Typical registration fee: $50.75

Davel5957 / iStock.com

14. Lexington, Kentucky

  • Average commute time (minutes): 20.90
  • Average gas price: $2.23
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 101
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $6,230.69
  • Typical registration fee: $21

Jeremy Janus / Getty Images/iStockphoto

13. Albuquerque, New Mexico

  • Average commute time (minutes): 21.20
  • Average gas price: $2.35
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 105.70
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $6,520.63
  • Typical registration fee: $44.50

12. Greensboro, North Carolina

  • Average commute time (minutes): 20.70
  • Average gas price: $2.39
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 85.50
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $5,274.50
  • Typical registration fee: $36

11. El Paso, Texas

  • Average commute time (minutes): 22.70
  • Average gas price: $2.39
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 107.60
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $6,637.84
  • Typical registration fee: $50.75

Davel5957 / Getty Images

10. Tulsa, Oklahoma

  • Average commute time (minutes): 18.40
  • Average gas price: $2.18
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 105.30
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $6,495.96
  • Typical registration fee: $85

DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images/iStockphoto

9. Fort Wayne, Indiana

  • Average commute time (minutes): 20.90
  • Average gas price: $2.38
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 93
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $5,737.17
  • Typical registration fee: $21.35

Davel5957 / iStock.com

8. Omaha, Nebraska

  • Average commute time (minutes): 18.70
  • Average gas price: $2.32
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 95.80
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $5,909.90
  • Typical registration fee: $15

SWKrullImaging / Getty Images/iStockphoto

7. Colorado Springs, Colorado

  • Average commute time (minutes): 21.80
  • Average gas price: $2.45
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 106.50
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $6,569.99
  • Typical registration fee: $0

peeterv / Getty Images

6. Oklahoma City

  • Average commute time (minutes): 21.30
  • Average gas price: $2.19
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 110.20
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $6,798.24
  • Typical registration fee: $85

RoschetzkyProductions / Shutterstock.com

5. Corpus Christi, Texas

  • Average commute time (minutes): 19.20
  • Average gas price: $2.23
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 93.30
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $5,755.68
  • Typical registration fee: $50.75

4. Lincoln, Nebraska

  • Average commute time (minutes): 18.30
  • Average gas price: $2.49
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 86.50
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $5,336.19
  • Typical registration fee: $15

Imagesbybarbara / Getty Images/iStockphoto

3. Virginia Beach, Virginia

  • Average commute time (minutes): 23.70
  • Average gas price: $2.31
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 115.30
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $7,112.86
  • Typical registration fee: $40.75

2. Plano, Texas

  • Average commute time (minutes): 26.50
  • Average gas price: $2.16
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 100
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $6,169
  • Typical registration fee: $50.75

DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

1. Wichita, Kansas

  • Average commute time (minutes): 18.20
  • Average gas price: $2.20
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 92.80
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $5,724.83
  • Typical registration fee: $35

JaCZhou / Getty Images

The Worst Cities for Car Lovers

If you live in one of the worst cities for car lovers, you probably don’t need a study to tell you. High costs and slow commutes are the scourge of many big cities, and the 25 listed ahead all share some unfortunate combination of the two. New York, for example, has both the longest commute and the highest annual vehicle expenses in the nation, no doubt contributing to the fact that a whopping 54.46% of residents don’t even have a single vehicle available. You’ll have to really love your car if you want to own one in these cities.

Iris van den Broek / Shutterstock.com

25. St. Paul, Minnesota

  • Average commute time (minutes): 23.70
  • Average gas price: $2.49
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 127.20
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $7,846.97
  • Typical registration fee: $471.61

Photo Italia LLC / Getty Images

24. New Orleans

  • Average commute time (minutes): 23.80
  • Average gas price: $2.17
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 155
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $9,561.95
  • Typical registration fee: $37.17

JByard / iStock.com

23. St. Louis

  • Average commute time (minutes): 24.10
  • Average gas price: $2.38
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 113.80
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $7,020.32
  • Typical registration fee: $51

22. Cincinnati

  • Average commute time (minutes): 22.60
  • Average gas price: $2.54
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 108.50
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $6,693.37
  • Typical registration fee: $34.50

21. Sacramento, California

  • Average commute time (minutes): 25.40
  • Average gas price: $3.49
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 132.80
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $8,192.43
  • Typical registration fee: $46

graphiknation / Getty Images/iStockphoto

20. Atlanta

  • Average commute time (minutes): 26.30
  • Average gas price: $2.56
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 144
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $8,883.36
  • Typical registration fee: $20

David Gn Photography / Getty Images

19. Portland, Oregon

  • Average commute time (minutes): 26.10
  • Average gas price: $3.14
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 147.40
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $9,093.11
  • Typical registration fee: $43

James Kirkikis / Shutterstock.com

18. Minneapolis

  • Average commute time (minutes): 22.90
  • Average gas price: $2.53
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 126.7
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $7,816.12
  • Typical registration fee: $471.61

ChrisBoswell / Getty Images/iStockphoto

17. Cleveland

  • Average commute time (minutes): 24.10
  • Average gas price: $2.65
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 105
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $6,477.45
  • Typical registration fee: $34.50

Ultima_Gaina / Getty Images/iStockphoto

16. Pittsburgh

  • Average commute time (minutes): 23.80
  • Average gas price: $2.80
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 121.20
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $7,476.83
  • Typical registration fee: $36

15. Honolulu

  • Average commute time (minutes): 23.40
  • Average gas price: $3.55
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 142.60
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $8,796.99
  • Typical registration fee: $115

Ron_Thomas / iStock.com

14. Long Beach, California

  • Average commute time (minutes): 30.40
  • Average gas price: $3.66
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 182.30
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $11,246.09
  • Typical registration fee: $46

bartuchna@yahoo.pl / Shutterstock.com

13. Miami

  • Average commute time (minutes): 28.10
  • Average gas price: $2.48
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 169.70
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $10,468.79
  • Typical registration fee: $257.50

RyanCSlimakPhoto / Getty Images/iStockphoto

12. Seattle

  • Average commute time (minutes): 27.50
  • Average gas price: $3.41
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 156.50
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $9,654.49
  • Typical registration fee: $30

logoboom / Getty Images/iStockphoto

11. Los Angeles

  • Average commute time (minutes): 30.90
  • Average gas price: $3.66
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 190.70
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $11,764.28
  • Typical registration fee: $46

Sheila Fitzgerald / Shutterstock.com

10. Oakland, California

  • Average commute time (minutes): 31.90
  • Average gas price: $3.67
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 131.70
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $8,124.57
  • Typical registration fee: $46

Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com

9. Baltimore

  • Average commute time (minutes): 30.70
  • Average gas price: $2.41
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 144.60
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $8,920.37
  • Typical registration fee: $135

anderm / iStock.com

8. Detroit

  • Average commute time (minutes): 26.40
  • Average gas price: $2.69
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 208
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $12,831.52
  • Typical registration fee: $234

Sean Pavone / Getty Images/iStockphoto

7. Chicago

  • Average commute time (minutes): 34.60
  • Average gas price: $2.97
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 159.80
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $9,858.06
  • Typical registration fee: $101

SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images/iStockphoto

6. Philadelphia

  • Average commute time (minutes): 32.90
  • Average gas price: $2.78
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 162.40
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $10,018.46
  • Typical registration fee: $36

Sean Pavone / Getty Images/iStockphoto

5. Boston

  • Average commute time (minutes): 30.40
  • Average gas price: $2.81
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 151.70
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $9,358.37
  • Typical registration fee: $60

DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images/iStockphoto

4. Newark, New Jersey

  • Average commute time (minutes): 35.50
  • Average gas price: $2.73
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 114.10
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $7,038.83
  • Typical registration fee: $84

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

3. Jersey City, New Jersey

  • Average commute time (minutes): 36.80
  • Average gas price: $2.61
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 180.70
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $11,147.38
  • Typical registration fee: $84

canadastock / Shutterstock.com

2. San Francisco

  • Average commute time (minutes): 32.80
  • Average gas price: $3.84
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 176.80
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $10,906.79
  • Typical registration fee: $46

Resul Muslu / Shutterstock.com

1. New York

  • Average commute time (minutes): 40.80
  • Average gas price: $3.01
  • Transportation cost-of-living index: 211.50
  • Annual vehicle expenses: $13,047.44
  • Typical registration fee: $53.75

More From GOBankingRates

Methodology: GOBankingRates analyzed the 75 most populous cities according to the United States Census Bureau in order to find the best and worst cities for car lovers. The study looked at the cities along the following factors: (1) average commute time in minutes, sourced from the United States Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey; (2) gas prices by county, sourced from AAA; (3) annual vehicle expenses, which were defined as “vehicle purchases (net outlay)” + “vehicle finance charges” + “maintenance and repairs” + “vehicle insurance” per the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Consumer Expenditure Survey for the third quarter 2017 through the second quarter 2018. Each city’s annual vehicle expenses were then factored out using each city’s Sperling’s Best Places’ transportation cost of living index; (4) registration fees by state according to documentation used at the 2018 National Conference of State Legislatures; (5) percent of households that have access to zero vehicles; (6) percent of households that have access to one vehicle; (7) percent of households that have access to three vehicles; and (9) percent of households that have access to four or more vehicles, all sourced from the United States Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey. These nine factors were then scored, with the lowest score being best, and combined to give a final total. In final calculations, factor four was given a weight of 0.5, factor seven was given a weight of 0.75, factors two and nine were given a weight of 1.5 times and factor five was given a weight of 2 times. All data was collected and up to date as of Sept. 3, 2019.