The average price paid for cars and trucks in the U.S. has reached record levels, but that doesn’t necessarily mean cars have gotten more expensive.
In some cases, they’re technically cheaper than they were decades ago, according to Consumer Reports.
The organization took a look at the 1,900 cars it has purchased for testing over the past four decades and discovered that, when adjusted for inflation, the prices for most had dropped significantly or stayed the same.
For example, in 1996 it bought a Toyota Camry for $20,509.31 that would be $33,220.09 now, while the latest Toyota Camry Hybrid it purchased cost $29,000.
Similarly, a 1993 Corolla was $15,331, or $28,122.82 today, which would get you a fully-loaded top-of-the-line 2021 model.
“Even though the new models are larger, safer, faster, cleaner, more fuel-efficient, and packed with features, they are actually more affordable, too,” Jake Fisher, senior director of Consumer Reports’ auto test program wrote in the report.
The report noted that the prices paid for trucks have gone up considerably, but that the vehicles are more retail-oriented and packed with more comfort and convenience features than in the past.
The growth in high-end truck and luxury vehicle sales is largely behind the increase in average transaction prices that have made headlines and are now near $38,000, according to J.D. Power.
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In particular, sales of vehicles priced above $70,000 are up, thanks in part to low finance rates available to high earners with good credit, while those below $40,000 have dropped in recent months.