Car Values Over The Past Two Decades

The cost of a car can become more expensive over time because of factors such as advances in automotive technology, an increase in demand, etc. Guess which car got the biggest jump on their price tag?

Car Values Over The Past Two Decades

To understand why prices of popular cars fluctuate from year to year, we took Kelley Blue Book’s top ten best-selling cars list and compared prices from 1997 to 2017, adjusting for inflation.

Here is a list (in order) of the top ten best-selling cars of 2016 and their MSRP from 1997 to 2017:

Make/Model'97'98'99'00'01'02'03'04'05'06'07'08'09'10'11'12'13'14'15'16'17
Ford F-Series$14,505$14,835$15,250$15,520$17,095$18,540$18,975$19,610$20,475$18,930$18,275$17,900$21,565$22,060$22,790$23,500$24,070$25,025$26,030$26,540$27,110
Chevrolet Silverado 1500$14,532$16,455$15,355$15,655$16,045$17,858$18,800$19,545$20,915$19,725$17,860$17,590$19,375$20,850$21,235$22,195$23,590$25,575$26,250$27,195$27,785
Dodge Ram 1500$14,075$14,560$14,795$14,859$15,285$17,620$18,735$19,855$20,555$21,15$21,505$22,150$21,520$20,610$20,810$22,570$23,100$25,060$25,660$26,145$26,495
Toyota Camry$16,448$16,938$17,098$17,518$17,675$18,970$19,045$18,045$18,195$18,445$18,470$18,570$19,145$19,395$20,195$22,055$22,235$22,425$22,970$23,070$23,070
Toyota Corolla$12,998$11,908$12,258$12,418$12,568$12,568$13,570$13,570$13,780$14,105$14,305$14,405$15,350$15,450$15,900$16,130$16,230$16,800$16,950$17,300$18,500
Honda Civic$10,550$10,650$10,650$10,750$12,760$12,810$12,810$13,010$13,260$14,560$14,810$14,810$15,305$15,455$15,605$15,755$17,965$18,190$18,290$18,640$18,740
Honda CRV$19,400$18,350$18,550$18,650$18,750$18,800$18,900$19,000$20,195$20,395$20,600$20,700$21,245$21,545$21,895$22,495$22,795$23,120$23,445$23,845$24,045
Toyota RAV4$15,118$15,438$15,728$16,888$16,365$16,525$16,625$18,450$19,050$20,300$20,950$21,500$21,500$21,675$22,475$22,650$23,300$23,550$23,680$24,350$24,910
Honda Accord$15,100$15,100$15,200$15,350$15,400$15,500$15,800$15,900$16,295$18,225$18,625$20,360$20,905$21,055$21,380$21,480$21,680$21,955$22,105$22,205$22,455
Nissan RogueNANANANANANANANANANANA$19,430$20,220$20,460$21,460$22,070$20,310$22,790$23,040$23,330$23,820

Our Findings

From Work Horse To Status Symbol: The Cost Of Trucks Is Rising

The cost of trucks has increased so much over time that it has become acceptable for some to have a price tag of $70,000 or more, which is comparable to a Mercedes AMG C63.

A theory as to why the costs have increased is the direction trucks have taken. Trucks were at one point work horses without trying to be anything else. They had a bench seat, column shifter, a big bed for hauling concrete and were made of steel. Now, trucks have heated seats, wood trim, double-sized cabs and, in the case of the new F-150, aluminum exteriors.

One interesting trend we noticed was that all trucks on the list, specifically the Ford F-Series, Chevrolet Silverado and Dodge Ram, are expensive not only in outright cost, but the cost for the average household has increased over time. In 1997, the cost for a Ford and a Chevy went from 39% of the average household income to 46% in 2017. To add insult to injury, the cost just to buy one of these trucks has gone up more than $5,000.

Make no mistake, trucks are still probably the toughest things on the road and have improved in terms of performance, but the focus seems to have shifted from using a truck for work to using a truck as a status symbol.

Honda Prices Remain Constant, And CR-V Becoming More Affordable Over Time

Interestingly, the Honda CR-V has become cheaper over time by more than $5,000, and there really isn’t a true explanation we could find to understand why. It’s a best seller, its features are getting better and better every year, it holds its value and has cheap insurance rates. It’s come a long way since costing 52% of the average household income in 1997 at $19,400, which is $56,211 in 2017 dollars.

Even counting for inflation, some Honda models such as the Accord and the Civic virtually have not moved in price, with the Civic only becoming $2,000 more expensive over the last 20 years.

Several Models Experience Inconsistent Price Changes

While most car prices have seen consistent fluctuation through the years, there are several that have dramatically increased or decreased in a small span of time.

The Dodge Ram’s price, for instance, dipped about 9% between 2010 and 2012, and then shot back up to its 2009 price of roughly $24,000. That was the only price decrease the Ram took in the last 20 years, perhaps because demand suffered after the stock market crash. In fact, a lot of the cars on the top ten list have a price decrease from 2007 to 2012.

Also, the F-Series jumped about 9% from 2000 to 2001 when the F-150 came with four full size doors for the first time. The Honda Civic also jumped about 8.5% in 2001, when it vaulted into the compact car size category and had more interior space.

What To Watch For Next

Japanese cars have stayed consistent in price and cost a lower percentage of total household income than years prior. You can bet that with a Honda Civic and Toyota Camry, your investment will stay a smart one.

What you may need to keep a close eye on are trucks prices. Each one has gone from costing about 40% of a household income to roughly 45%. Granted they dipped around 2008, but so did the prices of the trucks themselves. Regardless, it appears that on the entire list of KBB’s top ten cars, trucks have definitely become more expensive over time.

(Click here for full image)

The Instamotor TeamThe Instamotor Team

Not your typical used car salesman. Our team is here to provide honest and transparent advice about car buying and selling.

Find Cars From Your Phone

Instamotor's free app helps you find used cars for sale directly by the owner. Buying and selling a used car has never been safer and easier.