Special Report

7 Car Brands That Cost Less Than They Used To

4. SL-Class
>1980-2014 (inflation-adj.) price pct. change: -18.2%
>1980 price: $36,130
>2014 U.S. sales: 5,030

The Mercedes-Benz SL-Class has been available for sale in the U.S. longer than nearly any other model. Americans have been able to buy the SL-Class every year since its introduction back in 1954. While the SL-Class’s price has gone up nearly $50,000 since 1980, when inflation is taken into account, the car actually cost $18,876 less in 2014 than it did 34 years earlier. This price drop is indicative of a larger trend of luxury automobiles becoming more affordable for a wider range of budgets.

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3. 6 Series
>1980-2014 (inflation-adj.) price pct. change: -19.0%
>1980 price: $32,825
>2014 U.S. sales: 8,647

Originally marketed to those looking for a luxury 2-door sedan, the BMW 6 Series has filled a niche in the U.S. market since its introduction in 1976. After its initial 13 years in production, the 6 Series went on hiatus until its reintroduction in 2003. Now in its third generation, the 6 Series is available in 4-door and convertible models. While a new 6 Series Coupe cost only $32,825 in 1980, that amount is equal to $94,306 in today’s dollars, almost $18,000 more than the 2014 rate for a new 6 Series Coup. This significant drop in price may be the result of the German automaker’s attempt to make its luxury vehicles available to a wider share of the market.

2. Jetta
>1980-2014 (inflation-adj.) price pct. change: -24.9%
>1980 price: $7,650
>2014 U.S. sales: 160,873

Since its introduction to the U.S. market in 1979, Volkswagen has sold millions of Jettas. Over its three and a half decade history, the Jetta has undergone a lot of changes. Currently on its sixth generation, the newest family of Jettas has improved efficiency, safety, and power. In 2014, a new base model Jetta cost $16,515, about $8,865 more than the vehicle cost 1980. Taking inflation into account, however, the Jetta is actually cheaper today than it was nearly 35 years ago. In today’s dollars a Jetta would have cost roughly $22,000 in 1980, about $5,500 less than what a consumer could expect to pay today.

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1. E-Class
>1980-2014 (inflation-adj.) price pct. change: -30.5%
>1980 price: $26,466
>2014 U.S. sales: 66,400

Though officially named E-Class only in the early 1990s, this group of Mercedes-Benz vehicles had already been sold in the U.S. for decades prior. The E-Class cost close to $53,000 in 2014, nearly double its price in 1980 price tag. However, of all the automobiles that existed in the American marketplace in both 1980 and 2014, no price fell sharper in today’s dollars than the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. When adjusted for inflation, the E-Class is $23,212 cheaper today than it was 34 years ago.

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