Photo credit: Jonathan Weiss/Shutterstock

The US economy has now been in a series of runaway inflation for more than a year. According to data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Consumer price index has seen year-on-year inflation above 5% every month since May 2021, and year-on-year CPI growth has exceeded 8% for three consecutive months this spring. Amid rising prices for almost every category of consumer spending, the US Federal Reserve began to raise interest rates sharply to cool the economy. And some economic experts believe that these inflation-fighting efforts have pushed the United States heading into a recession.

A category that has been most dramatically affected by rising inflation is vehicles. As economists have debated the role of supply constraints and demand-side factors such as aggressive government stimulus measures and high consumer spending in this time of inflation, the vehicle market has been affected by both. COVID-related manufacturing shutdowns, labor shortages and supply chain challenges have reduced the number of new vehicles and increased competition for used cars. Simultaneously, consumers took advantage of low interest rates, strong savings and investment returns early in the pandemic, and rising wages to finance major purchases, including cars and trucks.

Therefore, the CPI of new vehicles increased by 16% since the start of 2020, while the CPI for used vehicles increased by more than 50% over the same period.

However, there are indications that inflation in the used vehicle market may have peaked. After hitting an all-time high in January 2022, used car prices fell for each of the following three months. While prices rose slightly again in May, the CPI for used vehicles remains below its peak at the start of the year. Automotive industry experts have also recently reported an increase in the number of vehicles available, easing supply pressures that have driven up prices.

The rise in car prices has been particularly steep in the lower segment of the market, and shoppers looking for bargains are finding fewer options available to them. For vehicles in the lowest car price quintile, the median car price is currently 53.2% higher than the pre-COVID forecast. In contrast, the price premium in the top quintile is 37.1%.

Differences in premiums between price ranges are also apparent by vehicle make and model. Models from relatively affordable automakers like Nissan, Kia and Dodge have price increases that exceed global averages, in some cases exceeding pre-COVID forecasts by more than two-thirds.

The data used in this study comes from Copilot Price impulse tool. To determine which popular cars have risen in price the most, researchers from Copilot calculated the difference between the current market price and the initial pre-COVID price prediction. Only the 100 most popular used vehicles with available data were included in the study. Data shown reflects pricing data for model year 2020 used vehicles that are currently on sale.

Here are the popular cars that have increased in price the most.

Popular used cars see biggest price spike

Photo credit: Tikhomirov Sergey / Shutterstock

15. Kia Soul

  • Current price premium (%): +51.6%
  • Current price premium ($): +$7,516
  • Current price: $22,080
  • Original Price Prediction: $14,564

Photo credit: Marko25 / Shutterstock

14.Kia Sportage

  • Current price premium (%): +52.4%
  • Current price premium ($): +$9,393
  • Current price: $27,326
  • Original Price Prediction: $17,933

Photo credit: Tony Savino / Shutterstock

13.Ford Fusion

  • Current price premium (%): +53.1%
  • Current price premium ($): +$8,805
  • Current price: $25,391
  • Original Price Prediction: $16,586

Photo credit: Jonathan Weiss/Shutterstock

12. Chevrolet Trax

  • Current price premium (%): +53.3%
  • Current price premium ($): +$8,103
  • Current price: $23,306
  • Original Price Prediction: $15,203

Photo credit: Jonathan Weiss/Shutterstock

11.Chevrolet Malibu

  • Current price premium (%): +53.7%
  • Current price premium ($): +$8,356
  • Current price: $23,926
  • Original Price Prediction: $15,570

Photo credit: Darren Brode/Shutterstock

10.Volkswagen Jetta

  • Current price premium (%): +54.0%
  • Current price premium ($): +$8,233
  • Current price: $23,482
  • Original Price Prediction: $15,249

Photo credit: dennizn / Shutterstock

9. Buick Encore

  • Current price premium (%): +56.0%
  • Current price premium ($): +$8,753
  • Current price: $24,394
  • Original Price Prediction: $15,641

Photo credit: Joseph Creamer/Shutterstock

8.Chevrolet Impala

  • Current price premium (%): +56.3%
  • Current price premium ($): +$9,727
  • Current price: $26,990
  • Original Price Prediction: $17,263

Photo credit: Steve Lagreca/Shutterstock

7. Nissan Sentra

  • Current price premium (%): +56.6%
  • Current price premium ($): +$8,461
  • Current price: $23,410
  • Original Price Prediction: $14,949

Photo credit: KeongDaGreat / Shutterstock

6.Nissan Versa

  • Current price premium (%): +56.6%
  • Current price premium ($): +$7,051
  • Current price: $19,501
  • Original Price Prediction: $12,450

Photo credit: Giftzwerg92 / Shutterstock

5.Kia Optima

  • Current price premium (%): +57.3%
  • Current price premium ($): +$8,632
  • Current price: $23,700
  • Original Price Prediction: $15,068

Photo credit: Darren Brode/Shutterstock

4. Kia Forte

  • Current price premium (%): +59.4%
  • Current price premium ($): +$8,037
  • Current price: $21,565
  • Original Price Prediction: $13,528

Photo credit: Iurii Vlasenko / Shutterstock

3. Dodge the trip

  • Current price premium (%): +63.1%
  • Current price premium ($): +$9,975
  • Current price: $25,774
  • Original Price Prediction: $15,799

Photo credit: Zeke Willard/Shutterstock

2.Dodge Grand Caravan

  • Current price premium (%): +67.9%
  • Current price premium ($): +$10,940
  • Current price: $27,062
  • Original Price Prediction: $16,122

Photo credit: betto rodrigues / Shutterstock

1.Nissan Altima

  • Current price premium (%): +68.2%
  • Current price premium ($): +$9,958
  • Current price: $24,553
  • Original Price Prediction: $14,595

Methodology and detailed results

The data used in this study comes from Copilot Price Pulse Tool. To determine which popular cars have risen in price the most, researchers calculated the difference between the current market price and the initial pre-COVID price forecast. Only the 100 most popular used vehicles with available data were included in the study. Data shown reflects pricing data for model year 2020 used vehicles that are currently on sale.