Instead of buying or leasing a car, Consumer Reports takes a look at car subscriptions

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- When it's time for a new car, should you buy, lease, or subscribe? A new car purchasing option some automakers are betting on could make car ownership as simple as a smartphone upgrade. But with some initial high prices, will consumers buckle in?

In a partnership with Consumer Reports, 7 On Your Side's Michael Finney takes a look at a growing car trend.

Swedish automaker Volvo recently released details about a new subscription-based ownership program called "Care by Volvo."

Starting at $600 a month, it includes insurance, vehicle service, roadside assistance, 24/7 customer care, and replacements needed for wear-and-tear items such as brake pads and wiper blades.

"The idea of these programs is to take away much of the hassle and mystery involved with buying or leasing a car," explains Nick Kurczewski, Consumer Reports Auto Expert. "With subscription models, you pay one monthly fee for most costs involved in owning a car. Plus, you could drive a new vehicle every year, or even every week with some other programs."

And Volvo isn't the only automaker offering consumers this type of deal.

BMW, Hyundai, Cadillac, and Porsche all have similar subscription based programs, with varying degrees of how often you can exchange a car for a new one.

For those who balk at Volvo's substantial all-inclusive price, it's worth noting that the base price for the included vehicles starts at $33,200.
"Although the programs that are currently in effect are on the pricier side, there are no long term commitments, and we anticipate the monthly fees going down as this trend becomes more popular," Kurczewski said.

And if you rev up for the latest in car technologies, Consumer Reports says the subscription-based model could be a big hit. "These types of programs could be really enticing for those who want to stay on top of the latest advancements in safety, infotainment, and convenience," Kurczewski noted.

But of course, a subscription-based ownership experience will not be for everyone. That's especially true for consumers who like idea of paying off their vehicles, and not having monthly car payments.

Besides the service Care, Volvo also plans to offer a subscription service for its Polestar electric vehicles. Ford is also expanded its Canvas service, beyond its pilot market of San Francisco. And Hyundai offers a subscription for its Ioniq electric car, but so far only in California.

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Written and produced by Justin Mendoza

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