2014 Car Affordability Study

All of the big guys — New York, Los Angeles, Chicago — are among the metro areas that landed right in the middle of our study. Don't be discouraged when we say median-income households in those cities should spend 30% to 40% less than the average transaction price for a new vehicle ($32,086 in 2013). Or when you find compact cars and SUVs dominating our examples of what $20,000 to $22,000 will buy. We don't think buyers are giving up very much. This price range includes lots of surprisingly fun, comfortable and well-equipped alternatives to pricier models that tempt buyers to overspend. Here's how to figure out how much you can afford to spend exactly as we did for the median households in our study.