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Stop guessing about how much you’ll spend on gas

If you’re planning a summer road trip here’s a quick and easy way to see how much the gas will cost.

FuelEconomy.gov, the official government source for fuel economy information, recently released My Trip Calculator [3].

It’s a nifty tool that provides the best route and estimates your fuel costs based on whatever you’ll be driving, all in one spot.

The precision of this calculator is a real revelation for me because my typical trip planning goes something like this:

“Let’s see, I’m driving about about 300 miles, I’ll get about 30 miles per gallon and gas costs about $3 a gallon, so this trip will cost (pause for the mental math) about $30.”

Then I’m shocked when I spend twice that much.

What if you have a choice of what you’ll be driving? Or maybe you’re in the market for a new ride and can’t decide what to buy?

My Trip Calculator allows you to select up to three different cars or trucks, enter a trip that you often drive and presto, you’ll see the difference in what you’ll pay for at the pump.

For example, let’s say you’re taking a trip with some friends from Chicago, Ill., down to Nashville, Tenn. That’s pretty much a straight shot down Interstate 65, so it’s almost all highway driving.

You’re trying to decide between taking your 2014 four-cylinder automatic Subaru Outback, your friend’s 2014 six-cylinder automatic Ford Explorer or your buddy’s 2014 six-cylinder automatic four-wheel drive Honda Pilot.

So you enter your current location and destination into the calculator, select the car models and estimate the percentage of city driving you’ll do (we’ll use 0% for this example).

According to the calculator, you’ll use an estimated 15.7 gallons of gas in the Subaru for a total of $57.59 — that’s only one-way.

The Ford will use 4.8 more gallons and cost you $75.12 in fuel.

And the Honda will use 19.6 gallons of gas and cost $71.99.

The Subaru is the clear winner here.

You’ll save around $35 round-trip by taking the Subaru over the Ford and nearly $30 round-trip by taking it over the Honda — that’s at least a couple of meals.

Those approximations are based off of the national average fuel price, which the site updates weekly, and the EPA’s fuel economy estimates.

You can compare nearly any car on the road.

The site’s database includes all light-duty cars and trucks sold in the United States since model year 1984.

Follow Mitch Strohm [4] on Google Plus.