Why a New Car May Now Cost You Less

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Prices for new cars are down $500 year over year according to automotive pricing guide Kelley Blue Book, with some cars seeing larger drops than others.

Japanese car models saw the biggest year-over-year declines, especially those that were previously impacted by severe inventory shortages after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

The average Honda model is selling for nearly $1,200 less than the price last year, according to Alec Gutierrez, Kelley Blue Book's senior market analyst of automotive insights.

Subaru, Mazda and Toyota cars are about $700 to $800 less than last year.

"Compare this to the average year-over-year declines of less than $500 for Ford, Chrysler and General Motors, and it's no wonder the Japanese automakers have been able to considerably increase market share this year," Gutierrez said in a statement.

Some specific models saw even deeper discounts.

The 2012 Honda Accord and 2012 Nissan Sentra are down almost $1,500, with an average price of $20,350 and $16,000 respectively.

The 2012 Toyota Prius is down $2,500 from last year, with an average price this year of $22,650, though it is still selling at 95 percent of its original manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP). At this time last year, the Prius was selling at almost 10 percent more than the MSRP because of high fuel prices and "nonexistent inventory," according to Kelley Blue Book.

The picture is much different now with more inventory from Japanese carmakers and lower gas prices. The national gas price average for regular gas is $3.44, down nearly 10 cents from a week ago, according to the Department of Energy on Monday. This week's price is down nearly 14 cents from a year ago.

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