Sticker prices for 2004 model year vehicles sold in the United States rose 1.6 percent over 2003 models, according to an Automotive News analysis.
That amounts to a $440 average increase in sticker prices for the industry.
The Big 3 normally lead this parade, but this time the Korean automakers - Hyundai and Kia - outstripped everyone. The Koreans raised sticker prices 4.5 percent, while General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and the Chrysler group raised prices an average of 1.9 percent.
In a few years, it may be a mistake to think of the Koreans as the bargain-basement badges.
Japanese automakers raised sticker prices a modest 0.9 percent, and European automakers boosted prices 1.2 percent.
Even though sticker prices are rising, customer rebates continue to head for the rafters. According to Edmunds.com, rebates rose $80, or 3.5 percent during the 12-month period ending in April.
Overall transaction prices are rising, according to the Power Information Network. For the 12-month period ending in May, the average transaction price for new vehicles rose 1.4 percent to $25,941.
How about SUVs, the darlings of today's buyers? Their transaction price held steady at $29,823, down $20.
So prices are up, even though rebates wiped out part of the sticker price increase. But there are two other factors: Some buyers are spending money to add bells and whistles to their vehicles. Others are moving upscale to buy more luxurious cars and trucks.
Buyer A may choose a Ford Expedition instead of an Explorer. Buyer B may stick with the Explorer but will deck it out with every option in the dealer's catalog.