The average new car transaction price passed $40,000 for the first time last December. What new car would you take home with that kind of budget?
In December 2020, the average new-car transaction price crested $40,000 for the first time ever. According to data from Edmunds, buyers paid an average of $40,573 for their new rides in December, nudging the fourth-quarter average to a similarly stunning $40,179. That's likely driven by the ever-increasing share of more-expensive CUVs, luxury vehicles, and loaded-up trucks.
That's not really what we're about, though. As car enthusiasts, we at Road & Track are constantly thinking of ways to stretch our dollars in the market. So given that budget, we'd almost all end up with used cars that have already taken big depreciation hits. Sometimes, though, you need a warranty, modern convenience features, and peace of mind. With that in mind, what would new car would you take home for $40,573 or less?
I'd probably end up with an ND Miata Club. As unimaginative as it is, the ND2 is about as close to perfection as you'll find on the market today. Certainly for under $40,000. Senior editor Kyle Kinard disagrees, though, noting he'd pick a V-6 Camaro with the 1LE package. That's a left-field call, an example of an oft-forgotten performance car ignored in part because of its more extroverted, V-8-powered brethren in the Chevy lineup. In FCA world, though, you can get a V-8 for our budget. So deputy editor Bob Sorokanich would take that route, throwing down 40 large on a Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack. Aaron Brown would also grab a muscle car, hoping to find enough incentive cash to bring a $42,000 Mustang Performance Pack 1 below our price cap.
John Krewson, our resident ruralite, would pick a loaded up Toyota Tacoma. And the rest, well, they're as predictable as I am. Staff writer Brian Silvestro and senior report Chris Perkins would both also snag Miata Clubs, leading to some parking lot confusion next time we get together. So that leaves us with three Miatas, three muscle cars, one truck, and shockingly no hot hatches. How about the rest of you? Join the Miata Club club or go for something a little more imaginative?