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New Cars Unaffordable in All But One Major Metro Area


CHICAGO--March 12, 2014: A median-income household can only afford the average-priced new car or light truck in one of the 25 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, according to research released today by

Washington, D.C. leads the list for a second straight year, followed by San Francisco and Boston. Two Florida cities (Tampa and Miami) bring up the rear and are the only two cities where car affordability declined over the past year. San Antonio experienced the biggest jump in affordability over the past year (seven percent), followed by Phoenix (six percent) and San Francisco and Atlanta (both five percent).

"Too many families are spending way too much on new cars and trucks," said Mike Sante, managing editor of "Just because you can manage the monthly payment doesn't mean you should let a $30,000 or $40,000 ride gobble up such a huge share of your paycheck. You can get a great car for much less and use the savings to invest in yourself. Here's where the money for your retirement or kids' college can come from." recommends that median-income households spend no more than the following amounts on vehicle payments (principal and interest). For comparative purposes, the average price of a new car or light truck in 2013 was $32,086, according to Kelley Blue Book. That equates to a monthly payment of approximately $633.

Metro  Area         

Affordable Purchase Price

Maximum Monthly Payment

1.   Washington, D.C.          



2.   San Francisco                  



3.   Boston                             



4.   Minneapolis                      



5.   Baltimore                         



6.   Seattle                              



7.   Portland, Ore.                     



8.   Denver                               



9.   San Diego                          



10. New York City                   



11. Philadelphia          



12. Chicago                 



13. Dallas                     



14. Los Angeles             



15. Sacramento              



16. Houston                    



17. Milwaukee                  



18. Atlanta                        



19. St. Louis                      



20. San Antonio                  



21. Phoenix                         



22. Pittsburgh                       



23. Detroit                    



24. Miami                      



25. Tampa                      



When calculating how much a household can afford to spend on a car or light truck, considered three key factors that are commonly referred to as the "20/4/10" rule: a down payment of at least 20%; financing lasting no longer than four years; and principal, interest and insurance not exceeding 10% of a household's gross income.

More information is available at:

Interest--Affordable Cars and Trucks


For each metro area, calculated 10% of the monthly median gross household income in that area and subtracted the average monthly insurance premium in that area to determine the maximum amount that the median-income household should spend on monthly car payments (principal and interest). used its Auto Loan Calculator to calculate how much the median-income household can afford to borrow. Assumptions: 20% down payment, 48-month loan, national average interest rate, roll the sales tax into the amount being financed. The calculator is available at:

Auto Loan Calculator

Sources: Median incomes for each metro area came from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2012 "American Community Survey" (the latest year for which data is available).

Insurance costs are 2011 statewide averages from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (the latest year for which data is available).

Kelley Blue Book provided the average cost for new cars/light trucks in 2013.

Average 48-month new car loan rates are according to (January 29, 2014).

Sales tax rates were obtained from local governments and car dealers.