For its example, Marketplace chose the Honda Accord, because in August, it was one of the bestselling vehicles in the US, with 51,075 of them sold. Winding back the clock 25 years to 1989, Honda's cheapest Accord cost $11,770, and that money bought you a stripped-out car with 98 horsepower, a manual gearbox, no air conditioning and hand-crank windows.
Fast-forward to present day, and a basic Accord starts at around $22,000 and gives buyers significantly more features, including a 185-hp engine, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth, cruise control, more space, refinement and much better safety. By Marketplace's math, when just figuring for inflation, that modernHonda would cost about $11,500 a quarter century ago, despite all of that extra equipment. But that's just one factor. Scroll down to listen to the full report for an explanation of how cost of ownership figures into the mix, and whether it throws all of the calculations off.