Car subscriptions: 1 monthly fee includes everything (except the gas)

New, third option now available for drivers not interested in buying or leasing

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - If you drive you've likely had to decide if you are buying a car or leasing one. Well, now there's a third option -- subscribing.

Volvo now offers a 24-month subscription plan called Care by Volvo.

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"It's all inclusive," explained Mike Osteen, the owner of Osteen Volvo in Jacksonville. "So your insurance is paid for, your maintenance is paid for, wear and tear."

Osteen told News4Jax there is a lot of excitement about this new, third option for drivers because of the convenience.

One monthly payment includes the cost of the car, the insurance, car maintenance, even roadside assistance. So oil changes and replacements needed for wear-and-tear items such as brake pads and wiper blades -- that's all covered. The only other expense the driver has to take care of is filling up the tank with gas.

"It takes a lot of the worry and hassle out of the vehicle," said Osteen.

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The cost for starts at $600 a month, and that gets you a new XC40 Momentum SUV. And when you break down all the costs, it could create big savings for you.

Let's say you bought and financed your car and your payment runs about $350. Then, add your insurance which runs about $250. That's already $600 right there, not including the hundreds of dollars you might spend for regular yearly maintenance or to buy new tires, brakes, filters and the like.

The same would be true if you leased a car for $450 and had insurance for only about $150. You're still on the hook for maintenance, tires, and any mileage overages.

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We found however, subscribing isn't going to be for everyone. Like a lease, there is a mileage allowance for the XC40. With the subscription it's 15,000 miles, which means anyone who drives more than 39 miles a day will blow right through that.

      Also, if you've had an accident or speeding ticket, you may have to pay more. The insurance is offered through Liberty Mutual, and the company will have your driving record examined.

 But, if you have a clean driving record and you live close to work, a car subscription could be a deal for you.  

"It's for the person that wants to have a new car and a fresh car all the time," said Osteen.    "For the person that just wants to write or have the subscription fee take out of the back account on the monthly basis and not have to worry about insurance, not have to worry about maintenance, or a door ding on it."  

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And for those who balk at Volvo’s all-inclusive starting price of $600 a month, Consumer Reports said it’s worth noting that the base price for the included vehicles start at $33,200.

 Volvo isn't the only automaker wanting to offer subscriptions. Others include Hyundai, Cadillac, and Porsche  -- all trying out similar subscription-based programs in select cities right now, with varying degrees of how often you can exchange a car for a new one.  

Consumer Reports said for drivers who are interested in the latest automotive technology, the subscription-based programs could be really enticing, allowing them to stay on top of the latest advancements in safety, infotainment, and convenience.

Although the programs that are currently in effect are on the pricier side, there are no long-term commitments and they take away much of the hassle and mystery involved with buying or leasing a car, and Consumer Reports anticipates the monthly fees will go down as this trend becomes more popular.

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