The average monthly loan payment taken on by new-car buyers hit a record $523 in the first quarter of 2018, up $15, or about 3 percent, from a year ago, according to credit tracker Experian. About 85 percent of new cars are bought with financing, and the increase in the average payment tracks with increased sales of more expensive SUVs and also an uptick in new-car loan rates.
The average loan amount for a new car in the first quarter was $31,455, up $921 from a year ago. Meanwhile, the average interest rate was 5.17 percent, up nearly one-third of a point.
Buyers also are making those higher payments for a long time, even though longer loans were not enough to keep the average payment from rising. The average loan term in the first quarter edged closer to six years, increasing to 69.03 months. And three-quarters of new-car loans were 61 months or longer.