Car buyers getting more options, especially for small cars

Car buyers getting more options, especially for small cars

New-vehicle buyers are buying more expensive options than in the past, says CNW Research. Among the different vehicle buyers, small car owners have always fluctuated the most on how much they will spend on options, but their numbers have been creeping up since the recession ended.

CNW measures option purchase by percentile. For example, if the base price is $12,000 and a fully equipped model is $20,000, a car with an MSRP of $16,000 is in the 50th percentile. When CNW first started doing the study, small cars were in the 14th percentile. They gradually rose to a high point of the 89th percentile in 2006. They were in the 50s from 2009 to 2011 and in the 57th percentile in the first half of 2013.

One reason for the increase in small car percentile, says CNW President Art Spinella: As more consumers looked for gasoline efficiency and higher mpg ratings, they were unwilling to give up on the luxury or features found in their previous vehicles.

Everything from power outside mirrors to high trim levels to bigger sound systems was added to even the lowliest of models. Consumers are unlikely ever to return to buying bare bones vehicles, Spinella says.

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