Top 10 used brands that financed buyers stretch most to afford

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - 

LendingTree released findings of its study on which brands buyers who secure financing are stretching the most to afford.

The company acknowledged financing a vehicle is one of the more significant financial decisions Americans make, and even those who try to save money by buying a used model can struggle to afford the monthly payments.

A recent LendingTree survey found that 27 percent of Americans plan to purchase a vehicle in 2018. To discover if consumers are more likely to stretch their available incomes to own certain brands, LendingTree looked at people who found available financing on the LendingTree.com platform in 2017 to buy used vehicles.

Contrary to popular assumptions, LendingTree found that the results revealed that people aren’t going broke to buy used luxury cars. In fact, buyers of the most expensive cars seem to handily afford them.

On the other hand, LendingTree found Buick owners have the hardest time affording their car payments — not because they’re indulging in particularly expensive vehicles, but because their income tends to be on the lower side, meaning they use a larger share of take home pay to cover their monthly payments.

The survey showed Buick and Chrysler owners who took out a contract to finance the purchase of a used vehicle in 2017 are spending an average of 10.9 percent of their monthly income to make $418 and $440 monthly payments, respectively.

That’s more than twice the percentage of income that Tesla and Porsche owners spend on their car payments.

LendingTree determined buyers aren’t paying an exorbitant amount for those cars, relative to the other buyers on the platform; Buick buyers spent an average of $18,597 on their vehicles, and Chrysler buyers slightly less with an average of $18,497, but their reported monthly earnings fall on the lower end of the group, and they get the least favorable contract terms.

After Buick, Cadillac is the luxury brand buyers stretch the most to own, according to the survey.

At 8.8 percent of their reported income, Cadillac owners are willing to spend the largest percentage of their monthly income among buyers of used luxury makes. They’re also willing to pay the healthy average price of about $25,294, which results in an average payment of $480.

Jump several places down the list to see other luxury cars, where several are clustered around 7.5 percent of monthly income. Jaguar, Infiniti, BMW and Mercedes-Benz owners paid about $27,734, $24,728, $25,038 and $28,792, respectively, which come to average monthly payments of $503, $454, $476 and $519, respectively.

LendingTree contends that buying used can save substantial money, but financing can be trickier.

“For most Americans, price and monthly payment are still significant deciding factors, as they are often searching for a vehicle to fit within a certain budget. Used cars offer a huge price advantage and are great for those who are less picky about having the most current features. But used cars often have fewer dealer incentives, such as low financing, to capture buyers,” said Mike Ouyang of LendingTree’s auto division.

LendingTree explained that survey orchestrators determined average estimated vehicle cost as the sum of self-reported down payment amounts and actual contract amounts averaged across all purchasers of that make. Average estimated monthly payment is the monthly payment of each buyer (calculated on amount borrowed, contract term, and interest rate) averaged across all purchasers of that make. Estimated monthly payment as a percentage of monthly income is the calculated monthly payment divided by borrower self-reported monthly income (data is available in ranges of $50, so the midpoint was used for this estimate), averaged across all purchasers of that make.

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Car Makes Borrowers Stretch the Most to Buy Used

Rank

Make

Estimated Monthly Payment as a
Percent of Estimated Monthly Income

Average Estimated
Monthly Payment

Average Estimated
Vehicle Price

1

BUICK

10.9%

$418

$18,597

2

CHRYSLER

10.9%

$440

$18,497

3

NISSAN

10.6%

$405

$18,231

4

DODGE

10.6%

$454

$22,290

5

CHEVROLET

10.2%

$437

$20,930

6

KIA

9.7%

$368

$17,357

7

HONDA

9.4%

$389

$18,053

8

HYUNDAI

9.3%

$356

$17,216

9

MITSUBISHI

9.0%

$370

$17,205

10

CADILLAC

8.8%

$480

$25,294

11

FIAT

8.8%

$341

$16,543

12

FORD

8.6%

$424

$21,648

13

GMC

8.3%

$466

$25,077

14

JEEP

8.1%

$414

$21,885

15

VOLKSWAGEN

8.0%

$363

$16,909

16

MAZDA

7.8%

$355

$18,326

17

TOYOTA

7.7%

$385

$19,788

18

JAGUAR

7.6%

$503

$27,734

19

INFINITI

7.6%

$454

$24,728

20

BMW

7.4%

$476

$25,038

21

MERCEDES-BENZ

7.3%

$519

$28,792

22

SUBARU

7.2%

$361

$19,219

23

ACURA

7.0%

$409

$22,623

24

AUDI

6.8%

$482

$26,725

25

LEXUS

6.7%

$459

$25,393

26

LINCOLN

6.6%

$396

$22,205

27

LAND ROVER

6.2%

$569

$31,704

28

VOLVO

6.1%

$400

$20,877

29

MINI

5.7%

$355

$17,728

30

PORSCHE

5.0%

$635

$42,173

31

TESLA

4.6%

$818

$54,234

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