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New Cars Becoming Unaffordable, Study Claims

Living in a major city can make vehicle ownership tough.

by on Jun.30, 2016

A new study says that today's families cannot afford the vehicles designed specifically for them, such as the Chrysler Pacifica.

If you live in one of the top 50 U.S. cities, it’s unlikely you can afford to buy a new vehicle, according to a new research study.

Bankrate.com believes that a median-income household cannot afford the average priced new car or light truck in any of the 50 largest cities in the country. The average price of a new car or light truck in 2016 was $33,865, according to Kelley Blue Book.

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“People are spending far too much money on their cars,” said Steve Pounds, personal finance analyst at Bankrate.com. “There are many safe, affordable and stylish options on the market for people to choose from that won’t cut into more important budget items; such as college funds and retirement savings.”

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The website uses its 20/4/10 rule: a down payment of at least 20%; financing lasting no longer than four years; and principal, interest and insurance cannot exceed 10% of a household’s gross income. That said, some places must be leading the way in affordability, and here are the top five:

If you live in Detroit, according to Bankrate.com, this might be the vehicle that fits your budget.

  • San Jose California: the affordable vehicle price is $32,855.81, which translates to a monthly payment of $661.53 on a median income of $87,210
  • San Francisco, California: the affordable vehicle price is $31,970, which translates to a monthly payment of $643.70 on a median income of $85,070
  • Seattle, Washington: the affordable vehicle price is $25,660.20, which translates to a monthly payment of $521.60 on a median income of $70,975
  • Washington, D.C.: the affordable vehicle price is $25,236.88, which translates to a monthly payment of $498.11 on a median income of $71,648
  • San Diego, California: the affordable vehicle price is $25,033.41, which translates to a monthly payment of $499.11 on a median income of $67,799

While Bankrate.com’s method appears sound, it’s merely a guideline. To get what is best for you and your family car-wise, you may need to rethink the strategy. Matt DeLorenzo, managing editor for Kelley Blue Book said buyers might have to put down less, extend the car loan for a longer period, buy a certified preowned car or lease instead.

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“The game has changed quite a bit in car affordability. Cars are much more complex, much more expensive, they’re lasting longer, so people have to adapt,” DeLorenzo noted. With that in mind, the worst five places are:

  • Detroit, Michigan: the affordable vehicle price is $6,174.03, which translates to a monthly payment of $120.46 on a median income of $25,769
  • Rochester, New York: the affordable vehicle price is $7,391.73, which translates to a monthly payment of $147.57 on a median income of $29,527
  • Cleveland, Ohio: the affordable vehicle price is $7,558.23, which translates to a monthly payment of $150.89 on a median income of $24,701
  • Hartford, Connecticut: the affordable vehicle price is $7,960.44, which translates to a monthly payment of $155.94 on a median income of $28,826
  • Buffalo, New York: the affordable vehicle price is $8,319.28, which translates to a monthly payment of $167.50 on a median income of $31,919

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Despite this, new vehicle sales are expected to stay well above the 17.5 million-unit mark for 2016 and 2017, according to AlixPartners and its latest study of consumer trends. Other industry observers are predicting even higher sales numbers, meaning that buyers in the “unaffordable” cities are going to continue to look for ways make a new car or truck gettable.

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One Response to “New Cars Becoming Unaffordable, Study Claims”

  1. preferred user says:

    We might have a student loan bubble , new car bubble and another 2nd housing bubble event(s).
    Nobody learned anthing since 2008 including the politicians ,to big to fail banks and the 0FED !