Special Report

Iconic Car Prices Then and Now

Sam Stebbins

21. Civic
> Make: Honda
> 1980-2014 price difference (non-inflation adj.):
$15,061
> 1980 price: $3,949
> 2014 price: $19,010

Honda has sold more than 158,000 Civics in the United States this year, making it Honda’s most popular model. Since the Japanese auto manufacturer introduced the car to the U.S. market in 1973, the Civic has been an economy car, attractive not only for its low operating costs, but also for its low sticker price. However, despite its classification as an economy car, the cost of the vehicle has risen dramatically over the years. In 1980, a new Civic could be purchased for less than $4,000. Last year, a new cost just over $19,000. Even after adjusting for inflation, the cost of a Civic increased by $7,500 between 1980 and 2014.

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22. Cherokee
> Make: Jeep
> 1980-2014 price difference (non-inflation adj.):
$15,031
> 1980 price: $8,959
> 2014 price: $23,990

A new Jeep Cherokee cost nearly $9,000 in 1980. Last year, a Jeep Cherokee came with a sticker price of $23,990. Over the course of those 34 years, the vehicle’s price went up over $15,000, reflecting not only the effects of inflation, but also the significant changes in the Cherokee. In 1980, the Cherokee was a full-size SUV. However, starting in 1984, the Cherokee became the smaller, lighter mid-size SUV, more familiar to today’s drivers. Perhaps due to its change in dimensions, after adjusting for inflation, a new Cherokee was actually $1,749 cheaper last year than it was in 1980.

23. Corolla
> Make: Toyota
> 1980-2014 price difference (non-inflation adj.):
$13,277
> 1980 price: $4,348
> 2014 price: $17,625

Toyota has sold more than 190,000 Corollas year-to-date. While sales this year are lagging behind some of the other top five best seller, the Corolla is still the best-selling car in the history of the industry. Since the car’s introduction to the U.S. market in 1968, its engine and sticker price have been beefed up. In 1980, the Corolla had 75 horsepower and a price tag of $4,348. Last year, a new Corolla, now in its 11th generation, came equipped with 132 horsepower and a sticker price of $17,625.

24. Fiesta
> Make: Ford
> 1980-2014 price difference (non-inflation adj.):
$9,863
> 1980 price: $5,032
> 2014 price: $14,895

Introduced in the mid-70s, the Fiesta is Ford’s foothold in the subcompact economy car market. In 1980, a new Fiesta was sold for $5,032. In 2014, the vehicle was sold for $14,895 — nearly $10,000 more than it did 34 years prior. Despite the increase in its price tag over the past three decades, the Fiesta is still affordable. Of all the vehicles that were available in both 1980 and 2014, the Fiesta had the lowest sticker price as of last year.

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25. Jetta
> Make: Volkswagen
> 1980-2014 price difference (non-inflation adj.):
$8,865
> 1980 price: $7,650
> 2014 price: $16,515

Volkswagen first introduced the Jetta to Americans in 1979. The German auto manufacturer has sold millions of Jettas in the U.S. market since. Over its three-and-a-half-decade history, the Jetta has undergone many changes — in both price and performance. In 1980, a new Jetta came with a price tag of $7,650. Thirty-four years later, in its sixth generation, a new base model Jetta came with improved efficiency, safety, power, and a sticker price of $16,515. Volkswagen’s best-selling car was nearly $9,000 more last year than it was almost 35 years ago.