I was a little shocked at that so I went to the Bureau of Labor Statistics that calculates CPI data and sure enough the base price of new vehicle is only slightly higher today than it was in 1996... new trucks were a wee bit higher than new cars, but still; what a wild ride:Yes. It's a significantly more expensive vehicle, relative to the market as a whole.
If you ignore luxury models, new cars are basically the same price now as they were in the mid-'90s.
Still begs the question though: a 1996 F150 had a starting MSRP of $14,765. Today an F150 starts at $28,745. That's a heck of a lot more than the 4.6% that chart shows!
F350? $18,635 and $35,550, respectively.
How could that be? Well, in a nutshell, the Fed manipulates the number. "Hedonic Quality Adjustments" - apparently every year vehicles improve (reliability, durability, safety, fuel economy, maneuverability, speed, acceleration/deceleration, carrying capacity, and comfort or convenience) the CPI is adjusted for the improvement.
You can read more about it here: https://www.bls.gov/cpi/quality-adjustment/new-vehicles.pdf
Because adjustments like this are made to other items, like mobile phones, the CPI is actually artificially low.
Bottom line, if you are using inflation to justify ordering a 2021 Bronco, go right on ahead - it's likely even better than using CPI!
Now make sure you drive it hard and break it often once you get it. That way once all the "new model" kinks are worked out, the rest of us mere mortals can buy one too!