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The Average New Car Price Just Hit a New (and Insane) High

The average new car price in the U.S. crossed a major threshold at the end of 2020.

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Kia

Picture the "average" new car. Your brain probably drifts toward something like the Honda CR-V or the Toyota Camry — durable family cars with pricetags in the $20,000-to-$30,000 range. A lot of people do buy those...but a lot of other car buyers are paying far more than you might think.

Car research site Edmunds has revealed that the average new car sale price in the U.S. has eclipsed $40,000 for the very first time. Buyers spent $40,179 on their new rides on average during the fourth quarter of 2020. In December, the average price climbed to $40,573 (no word how many were delivered on Christmas morning with bows).

The average buyer put $4,734 down for their new car, according to Edmunds, and is making a payment of $581 per month.

Why are prices so high? Manufacturers noted two key factors to USA Today. Much of it stems from the vehicles people are buying — which is to say, not small cars. About half of U.S. car sales in 2020 were SUVs — a number that continues to increase as manufacturers reorient toward those more profitable vehicles. Many of those SUVs have been the three-row midsize family SUVs, which can get pricey.

Another 20 percent or so were pickup truck purchases, which are notably expensive these days. The average new pickup truck price has been hovering near $50,000 in recent years, and top-shelf versions can cost more than $70,000.

Buyers are willing to consider paying a premium for SUVs and trucks because financing them has been cheap with lower interest rates. We may not be seeing the crazy 0-percent-APR-for-84-months deals from early in the pandemic, but manufacturers were still offering quite favorable terms as they try to clear out 2020 inventory at the end of last year.

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