Will trim packages push up the price of your next car?

Enter a car dealership with a price in mind and chances are the cost of the car you thought you could afford is probably a lot more. Consumer Reports calls it "Trim- Level Sticker Shock" and we’re here to give you some advice.

Depending on the features you want, you should expect to pay more than the base price for a car. Features included in trim levels make up different versions of the same model car. Over the past 15 years, trim levels have doubled on some models, and that means more money out of your pocket.

For example, the Ford F-150, which has a base price of about $28,000. At the highest trim level, it’s over $61,000. Or, the Subaru Forester for about $23,000 for the base price. Depending on the trim level, you could pay between $26,000 to $36,000.

To confuse matters, you can get specific features only with certain trim levels. That’s because, with so many features available, manufacturers have to narrow down the choices.

Therefore, instead of buying features you don’t want to get the ones you do, first focus on the must-have safety features, even if you have to pay extra, rather than on trim levels.

Remember to negotiate, and be sure to check out Consumer Reports’ used-car reliability ratings.

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