New Car Prices Just Slightly Higher in December

Analysts estimate that the average price for light vehicles in U.S. was of $36,133 last month, a $583 increase from the last month of 2016.

Hasan Sarbakhshian—© Bloomberg Finance LP 2015

Americans are paying more than ever for new cars, but the pace of steadily rising prices has slowed, analysts at Kelley Blue Book reported Wednesday.

The average price for light vehicles in the U.S. came to $36,113 in December, up $583, or 1.6 percent, from the final month of 2016 and increasing 0.2 percent from November. 

The increase marks slower growth than the 2.5 percent price gains tallied in 2015 and 2016, the provider of car information said in a news release.

Incentive spending averaged 10.4 percent of the retail price suggested by manufacturers, "a concern for 2017," noted Tim Fleming, an analyst for Kelley Blue Book. Yet the figure held relatively flat over the final quarter of the year, a trend the analyst called "encouraging."

Why Are Cars So Expensive?
The Drive

This year, interest rates threaten to increase monthly car payments for consumers. That said, the analysts at Kelley Blue Book believe higher rates will mostly contribute to another yearly decline in vehicles sales rather than depressing prices, which have steadily risen since the recession.

Some manufacturers fared better than others, with Volkswagen marking the biggest jump, with average prices climbing 8 percent in December from a year earlier. The Volkswagen brand rose 9 percent, due to its new SUVs, the Atlas and Tiguan. Porsche climbed 5 percent, led by its new Panamera; Audi increased 4 percent with the redesigned A5 and Q5 both climbing 10 percent.

American Honda's prices rose almost 3 percent, with the Honda brand up 4 percent and Acura flat. The price of Honda's top seller, the CR-V, rose 6 percent while the redesigned Honda Odyssey rose 15 percent.