Buyers' situations vary widely. People in their early 30s living with their parents could spend half of their income on a vehicle without issue, she said. But someone living in Los Angeles or San Francisco who needs to reserve the majority of their pay for housing "probably not."
By Edmunds' old metric, new vehicles have become less attainable for the typical American, a trend that started even before the coronavirus pandemic.
The average new-vehicle loan payment in the first quarter of 2022 was $648, according to Edmunds. But the median full-time worker made about $4,494 a month for the same period, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, making a new car loan about 14 percent of monthly income — before taxes.
That makes for a payment certain to exceed 15 percent of the median American's take-home pay.
That same calculation put the average new-vehicle payment at 14 percent of pretax income for the first quarter of 2019 as well.