Gas Prices: Which Cars Face a $100 Fill-Up?

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Despite occasional glimmers of relief, gas prices keep rising. At the AAA national average of $3.80 a gallon this week, the price is a dollar higher than at this time last year. You hear numbers changing daily about demand, inventory and crude oil prices. But the numbers that really matter to you are those spinning on the gas pump each time you fill the tank. What if they hit $100?

Talk about gas pains: Try seeing a triple-digit bill at the pump. And the owners of some big SUVs, like the Ford Expedition and the largest Cadillac Escalade, already know how it feels.

We thought it would be entertaining -- in a horror show kind of way -- to look at a selection of vehicles that already topping the $100 mark for a fill-up. Then we checked out some more entries that could hit the triple-digit mark if gas prices kept rising.

Here's a list of vehicles already hitting $100 a tank:

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The federal Energy Information Administration is predicting that gas will average $3.86 a gallon nationally through the summer months of heavy driving. (Pump prices already top $4.00 in California, Illinois and a few other states, and are near $4.50 in Hawaii). But as we have seen recently, new troubles in the Middle East or another unforeseen event could drive gas prices even higher.

So what if gas prices hit, say, $4.50 a gallon? Smaller SUVs and big sedans, like the Audi A8 would hit the $100 mark.

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And at $5.00 a gallon? Expect the pain to extend to sedans and minivans.

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These calculations are, of course, all about the size of gas tanks. So we looked at some of the top-selling cars whose tanks were smaller than 20 gallons to see how high gas would have to go to for them to hit the $100 fill-up ($7.87 a gallon for the Honda Civic sedan, for instance). If you own that Civic, these numbers might be mildly reassuring.

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A note about the methodology: We based our tables on specifications for 2011 models and their gas tank sizes (data supplied by Edmunds.com). We used combined city/highway EPA mileage rating, and calculated how far each vehicle could drive on that full tank before hitting empty.

One fact stands out: A big tank will take you a long way on one fill-up, but very high mileage can make up the difference. Despite its small 11.9-gallon gas tank (because of the battery pack that must be squeezed in), the hybrid Toyota Prius, with its EPA 50 mpg combined city/highway rating, can go nearly 100 miles farther on one tank than competing popular sedans with standard engines and much bigger tanks.

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