Between January 2009 and June 2013, the average new U.S. light-vehicle transaction price rose $4,353, or 17 percent, to $29,418, according to data cited by Goldman Sachs analyst Patrick Archambault.
But consumers barely blinked at the higher price. Here's why, according to Archambault.
During the same period, the average auto loan interest rate dropped to 4.5 percent from 7.6 percent, and the term of the average loan went to 65 months from 59 months.
So with longer loan terms and lower interest rates, average monthly car payments rose only $1, to $409.67 in June 2013 from $408.67 in January 2009.
Likewise, leasing payments barely budged because of lower interest rates and higher residuals.