DETROIT – People of all income levels are buying small cars to pinch pennies at the gas
pump, but they are not scrimping on creature comforts. Instead, they are
spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on options, like heated leather
seats and high-end entertainment systems, usually found in luxury cars, according
buyers often pay $600 for a sunroof, $500 for satellite radio, or $400 for a
hands-free phone system. Some even spend $300 for colorful interior lights.
growing ranks of small-car buyers are baby boomers who previously toted their
families in well-equipped minivans and SUVs. Now, with gas above $4 a gallon
and their children grown, they want nothing to do with such a large vehicle but
have grown accustomed to its luxuries, the report said.
Americans are paying for a subcompact car has increased an average $2,532 since
2004, nearly double the $1,253 increase for all vehicles, according to the
Power Information Network data. Transaction prices for compact cars have
increased an average of $2,370 over the same period and $3,055 for the segment’s
top seller, the Honda Civic.
the biggest success in the small car segment, in terms of persuading buyers to
upgrade, is BMW’s Mini Cooper, which starts as low as
$18,050 but typically sells for at least 40 percent more than that. BMW offers
myriad options on the Cooper that can take the price well above $40,000.
dealers, having realized that small-car shoppers are willing to buy higher trim
levels and optional features, are stocking their lots with more upgraded
vehicles. That is particularly true for hot sellers that have waiting lists,
such as the Toyota Prius hybrid and the Honda Civic.