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Old 02-28-2013, 04:07 PM   #1
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New Cars Increasingly Out of Reach for Many Americans

New Cars Increasingly Out of Reach for Many Americans

Looking to buy a new car, truck or crossover? You may find it more difficult to stretch the household budget than you expected, according to a new study that finds median-income families in only one major U.S. city actually can afford the typical new vehicle.

The typical new vehicle is now more expensive than ever, averaging $30,500 in 2012, according to TrueCar.com data, and heading up again as makers curb the incentives that helped make their products more affordable during the recession when they were desperate for sales.

According to the 2013 Car Affordability Study by Interest.com, only in Washington could the typical household swing the payments, the median income there running $86,680 a year. At the other extreme, Tampa, Fla., was at the bottom of the 25 large cities included in the study, with a median household income of $43,832.

The study looked at a variety of household expenses, such as food and housing, and when it comes to purchasing a new vehicle, it considered more than just the basic purchase price, down payment and monthly note, factoring in such essentials as taxes and insurance.

Bottom line? A buyer in the capital can purchase a car with a sticker price of $31,940, slightly more than the new vehicle average for the 2013 model year and about what it would cost for a mid-range Ford Fusion sedan or a stripped-down BMW X1 crossover. The buyer in Tampa? They'll just barely cover the cost of a basic Kia Rio, with $14,516 to spend.

"If you live in New York City or San Francisco, you're probably going to have to pay a lot for housing, but you don't have to pay a lot for a car," said Mike Sante, the managing editor of Interest.com, a financial decision-making website.

Affordability has been a matter of growing concern for the auto industry in recent years as prices have continued to move upward. Even the most basic of today's cars are generally loaded with features that were once found on high-line models a few decades back - if they were available at all - such as air conditioning, power windows, airbags and electronic stability control, as well as digital infotainment systems. They also have to meet ever tougher federal safety, emissions and mileage standards that have added thousands to the typical price tag.

"The average compact car of today has the features of a midsize model somebody might be trading in - but it may be just as expensive," said David Sargent, director of automotive operations for J.D. Power and Associates.

That is one reason why many buyers have been downsizing in recent years, said Bill Fay, general manager of Toyota, though he added that "there is still a lot of affordability in the marketplace."

Perhaps, but industry planners have come to recognize that they are targeting a much smaller segment of the American public than in decades past. That's one reason why most manufacturers are offering more downsized models.

They also are working with their dealers to offer certified pre-owned programs where buyers can stretch their budget by purchasing a two- or three-year-old vehicle that has gone through an extensive inspection and, if necessary, repairs and replacements. Such vehicles may cost slightly more than a conventional used model but usually include a like-new warranty.

While the typical new vehicle will likely nudge up this year, Interest.com editor Sante stressed that car costs are one of the most controllable parts of a household's budget. "You're better off driving something more affordable and saving or investing the difference."

If the typical new car costs $30,550, with an average monthly payment of $550, the five cities most able to meet - or come close - are:

1) Washington


Average Household Income: $86,680

Affordable Purchase Price: $31,940

Maximum monthly payment: $628

2) San Francisco

Average Household Income: $71,975

Affordable Purchase Price: $26,786

Maximum monthly payment: $537

3) Boston


Average Household Income: $69.455

Affordable Purchase Price: $26,025

Maximum monthly payment: $507

4) Baltimore

Average Household Income: $65,463

Affordable Purchase Price: $24,079

Maximum monthly payment: $468

5) Minneapolis


Average Household Income: $63,352

Affordable Purchase Price: $24,042

Maximum monthly payment: $470

At the other end of the scale, those five cities least able to handle a car payment are:

21) Phoenix


Average Household Income: $50,058

Affordable Purchase Price: $17,243

Maximum monthly payment: $348

22) San Antonio

Average Household Income: $48,699

Affordable Purchase Price: $17,137

Maximum monthly payment: $334

23) Detroit

Average Household Income: $48,968

Affordable Purchase Price: $17,093

Maximum monthly payment: $332

24) Miami

Average Household Income: $45,407

Affordable Purchase Price: $15,188

Maximum monthly payment: $295

25) Tampa


Average Household Income: $43,832

Affordable Purchase Price: $14,516

Maximum monthly payment: $282
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Old 02-28-2013, 08:31 PM   #2
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I think the Automobile industry gave up on cheap, new vehicles. It's becoming less and less cost/effective to attempt to put an affordable car on the road. Have to do R&D... to find cheap parts... that meet the ever toughening mandates. And in the end, it still may not sell (because it's cheap).

So... the automotive industry has taken on what I like to call the "Escalade approach". Just look at how much profit Cadillac has pulled in with the Escalade; pretty sure it's what kept Cadillac alive. The industry knows the high dollar, high profit vehicles will sell... they are built to sell. So why not go for the sure thing, instead of the gamble.

Lastly, this is just looking at New Cars. Used Cars are much more expensive than they used to be, as well. Yeah, if you look hard enough you may find something dirt cheap... but there is a reason dealers are buying back Used Cars for premium these days.
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Old 02-28-2013, 08:50 PM   #3
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high a new impala starts at 27,000. Most mid to full size cars start out at that much.
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Old 02-28-2013, 09:27 PM   #4
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Cost of living today is really expensive than before. Buying a car must be plan and won't exceed to your budget.
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Old 02-28-2013, 09:32 PM   #5
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Because they're loaded with everything! Whether you want it or not! No such thing as a "stripped model" anymore.
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Old 02-28-2013, 09:45 PM   #6
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I must be on a path to living beyond my means cause I make significantly less than the examples they have and I'm getting a 1LE.
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Old 02-28-2013, 10:28 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 5thGenOwner View Post
I think the Automobile industry gave up on cheap, new vehicles. It's becoming less and less cost/effective to attempt to put an affordable car on the road. Have to do R&D... to find cheap parts... that meet the ever toughening mandates. And in the end, it still may not sell (because it's cheap).

So... the automotive industry has taken on what I like to call the "Escalade approach". Just look at how much profit Cadillac has pulled in with the Escalade; pretty sure it's what kept Cadillac alive. The industry knows the high dollar, high profit vehicles will sell... they are built to sell. So why not go for the sure thing, instead of the gamble.

Lastly, this is just looking at New Cars. Used Cars are much more expensive than they used to be, as well. Yeah, if you look hard enough you may find something dirt cheap... but there is a reason dealers are buying back Used Cars for premium these days.
Yeah.. those with bad credit have no choice but to buy a used car.. which is why buying a new car sometimes is cheaper than buying used
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Old 02-28-2013, 10:54 PM   #8
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Subaru = best bang for your buck.

That coming from a person who believes in buying American. However I'm all about being's financially smart and when I look at Subaru's I see the best value.

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Old 03-01-2013, 12:55 AM   #9
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Old 03-01-2013, 07:58 AM   #10
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If new cars are expensive, stands to reason that used cars will be more too.

Someone posted a new impala is 27k. That may be true, but a year old impala with 10k miles is only 15k.

Everything is getting more expensive because consumers want more. Just look at trucks now. Backup sensors, back up camera power rear window, heated and cooled seats etc. Those were all options for higher end cars a few years ago, not trucks. Lol
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Old 03-01-2013, 08:42 AM   #11
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That's why it's smart to buy a new car and keep it for 10 years or more.

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Old 03-01-2013, 09:24 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PYROLYSIS View Post
I must be on a path to living beyond my means cause I make significantly less than the examples they have and I'm getting a 1LE.
Lol, I don't think those statistics factored in car enthusiasts.

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Old 03-01-2013, 09:37 AM   #13
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Is the Washington results skewed because of the 535 useless, highly over-paid Congressmen?
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Old 03-01-2013, 09:48 AM   #14
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I see enough 50 and 60 grand SUVs running around my town and expensive trucks to not entirely believe that story. Although, it's probably just that a whole lot of people are living way outside of there means. I guess the latter makes more sense these days.
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