Money Talks, So Should You

How car buyers shifted gears for 2013

Car purchases by cash volume are at an all-time high, and people are splurging a bit more when they buy.

Brian O'Connell
by Brian O'Connell, MainStreet contributor

Americans love their cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles.

So much so that car purchases by cash volume are at an all-time high, according to a Car Shopping Trends Report.

Edmunds reports the average amount of cash consumers spent on new vehicles last year was $30,803. Furthermore, car buyers are digging deeper to pay for extras, with $2,200 on average spent on new vehicle options last year.

READ: 4 apps you should check out when buying a new car

What else did Edmunds uncover about U.S. car purchase trends?

  • About 66 percent of new vehicle buyers want to be “highly engaged” in the vehicle shopping experience, especially in using consumer reviews and relying on online photos to make a purchase.
  • New-vehicle leasing is increasingly popular with car consumers, with the average monthly Luxury car buyers are taking a closer look at non-luxury vehicles and liking what they see. According to Edmunds, it’s not about the price or even the quality of luxury cars, SUVs and trucks. It’s more about the “improved quality” of non-luxury vehicles.
  • Consumers are generally following through on their spending plans, but spending a wee bit more than they expected. They told Edmunds in 2011 that they planned to spend $30,500 for a new vehicle but wound up spending an average $30,583; last year they spent an actual average $30,803 on new cars and trucks.
  • Car buyers like to stick with a maker ... a little less than they did. About 44 percent of new-vehicle buyers buy or lease the same brand they trade in. That figure is down from 49 percent in 2011, Edmunds says.

READ: What does that 'Check Engine' light mean?

In addition, most new car buyers are waiting until the weekend to pull the trigger — Saturday is far and away the most popular day to purchase a new vehicle of the week.

Age matters, too. New vehicle owners are roughly four years older than the average age of a used car buyer, according to the report.

Overall, it looks like new vehicle buyers are spending more money, and kicking more tires online, than at any point in the last five years.

That’s music to the ears of auto industry executives, and a clear sign that Americans are ready to ride in style again after half-a-decade of scaling back on new vehicle purchases.


Brian O’Connell has 15 years of experience covering business news and trends, particularly in the financial, health care and career management sectors. He has written 14 books and appeared on CNN, Fox News, CNBC, C-Span, Bloomberg, CBS Radio and other media outlets and in such publications as The Wall Street Journal and The He is a former Wall Street bond trader.