Yes, Johnson Controls, which produces many of today's car batteries, has really raised the prices over the past couple of years. Consumer Reports continues to give the Maxx Ever Start battery at Walmart high ratings. I just had to replace mine after 5.5 years. The original Maxx only had a 3 year warranty with it. The current ones are 5 years, with 3 of that being full replacement. I also just replaced my Interstate battery in my Vibe at Costco. My first one gave out 3 days before the full replacement warranty ran out so I got a new one for free. Unfortunately Costco no longer has their Kirkland battery which was a great battery. They now only carry Interstate which I'm not a big fan of given the high price. Unless you have a lot of money and can afford the Duralast, Interstate, Die Hard or Super Start Platinum, I'd simply go to Walmart and get the Maxx Ever Start. It has been high on CRs ratings for over 5 years now and is also the cheapest option. Just expect 5 years and no more out of it.
It always spooks me every time my battery dies (2 cars in 2 months) because I always jump to the conclusion that the alternator has failed, causing the battery to suddenly fail. The first time that my alternator actually did fail, I smelled a burning odor from the internal metal wires melting. While I always replace the battery first, I am always paranoid that the alternator is bad and will just run down my new battery. That did not happen with either car this past 2 months. Maybe the battery light on the dash would illuminate if the alternator was failing and if I don't see that idiot light, I can just assume it is the battery only.
Live it up: There will be plenty of time to be old when you die.
** 2009 Vibe: 1.8 liter automatic **
** 2010 Hyundai Elantra Touring **
** 2007 Honda Fit Sport **