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Car subscriptions offer new alternative to buying or leasing a vehicle

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For your next car, do you want to lease it or buy it? Well, how about a new third choice called a car subscription. (KABC)

For your next car, do you want to lease it or buy it? Well, how about a new third choice called a car subscription.

"This gives you the ability to have a shorter commitment to a car. It might be a month, or it might be six months, but it's going to be less time to spend with it than if you lease or buy a car," said Carroll Lachnit, senior consumer advice editor at Edmunds.com.

It's the auto industry getting creative, especially in moving newer used cars. It's also going after a new type of buyer.

"Most dealerships are not set up for used-car leasing, as it can be complicated as you figure out residuals and all that other stuff. So this is used-car leasing with a very flexible time frame," said Lachnit.

Cadillac was first up with a program called BOOK. You pay $1,800 per month, and you get to switch vehicles whenever you like.

Porsche is slowly rolling out a program called Passport where you can drive a variety of cars. Right now, it's only in the Atlanta area.

Volvo does things quite a bit differently with a plan called Care. You stay in one car, but everything is included, even insurance. It'll start with the upcoming XC40 later this year, at $600 per month.

And there's one from Ford called Canvas. The cars are late model, and you can change vehicles during your subscription.

There are restrictions with these programs. You can't smoke in the cars, other drivers are not permitted, and no alcohol or recreational drug use is allowed if you're going to drive. And, if you transport a pet, it has to be in a crate.

Obviously, there's lots of variety with these different subscription plans. To find the right one for you, you'd have to do your research.

Lachnit says that it's not unlike other major transactions.

"You really need to do your own research, and figure out if this model is right for you," she noted.

Some of the monthly rates might seem high, but keep in mind, a subscription is all-inclusive: maintenance, insurance, depreciation and so on.

"For you to understand whether this makes sense for you financially, you need to look at each program, look at the particulars of it, and do some comparison shopping," said Lachnit.

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