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Nation & World

Car prices hit record as buyers load up on options

(AP) — Americans are paying record prices for new cars and trucks, and they have only themselves to blame.

The average sale price of a vehicle in the U.S. hit $31,252 last month, up almost $1,000 over the same time last year. The sharp increase has been driven by consumers loading cars up with high-end stereos, navigation systems, leather seats and safety gadgets.

It’s a buying pattern that began around two years ago with low interest rates that let buyers choose pricier cars while keeping monthly payments in check. And automakers have also offered cheap lease deals that include fancy options.

Although sales are expected to keep rising, automakers say the next wave of buyers who replace older cars will be more cost-conscious.

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