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Vehicle Price Trends: Fuel Economy and Safety Improvements Come Standard

Consumer Reports has a robust data set of real-world vehicle purchases made for our testing program over the past 40 years.

A statistical analysis of this data from model years 2003 to 2021 found no systemic, statistically significant increase in inflation-adjusted vehicle prices across either vehicle classes or vehicle nameplates.

Over this same time period, average fuel economy improved 30%, resulting in an average of $7,000 in per-vehicle lifetime fuel savings for model year 2021 vehicles compared with model year 2003.

Safety also significantly improved as crash-test procedures were strengthened, electronic stability control and backup cameras were mandated on new vehicles, and advanced driver assistance systems became more widely available.

Commonly reported changes in average transaction prices appear to be primarily driven by shifts toward larger, more expensive SUVs and away from smaller and cheaper cars, rather than from the cost of technology improvements in individual models.

These findings prove that regulators can and should be aggressive in ensuring that automakers continue to deliver cost-effective technology improvements that save dollars and lives.

To read the full report, click the PDF link located at the top of this page.  To learn more, read the Consumer Reports story here.