Cars are becoming increasingly affordable? It hardly seems possible given today's economy, but statistics show that a new vehicle purchase takes a smaller bite out of your wallet today than it has in years.

You can bet that huge incentives and subsidized leases have been a factor in bringing those costs down. Bloated inventories have forced automakers to do whatever it takes to sell vehicles that are sitting not only on dealer lots, but in storage yards around the country. These factors have helped the average cost of purchasing a vehicle today fall to an average of 23.6 weeks of income for a family making $58,000 a year. That's nearly three weeks fewer than five years ago and 7.3 weeks less than in late 1994. Average vehicle prices have dropped 5 percent over the last year to $26,500, while median family income rose about 5 percent.

Several dealers have had customers come in to buy a vehicle with paperwork from a vehicle purchase from the mid-80's and the price of the new vehicle is only a couple of thousand more, some with dramatically lower payments. While everyone seems to complain about how expensive things are today, it certainly doesn't seem to have affected what they drive.

[Source: Detroit News]