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Americans Borrow Record Amounts to Buy Autos

Harry Lindback, of Dearborn Heights, MI, shops for cars at Bill Brown Ford Dealership on September in Livonia, Michigan.Andrew Burton / Getty Images

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Car buyers are borrowing record amounts to pay for their new rides, a trend driven by high prices, favorable loan rates, and shoppers opting for in-car gizmos.

Experian Automotives said the average amount climbed to $27,000, a new high.

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Harry Lindback, of Dearborn Heights, MI, shops for cars at Bill Brown Ford Dealership on September in Livonia, Michigan.Andrew Burton / Getty Images

The payments are rising at the same time that an increasing number of car buyers are opting to stretch their loans over six or seven years. That means buyers are borrowing more money, for longer periods of time.

According to Experian, a record 20 percent of all new car auto loans in the fourth quarter were more than six years in length.

"It's not surprising buyers are borrowing more," said Melinda Zabritski, Experian's senior director of automotive credit. "If you look at the most popular segments, they are full-size pickups and SUVs. It's hard to find one of those models new and fully loaded for under $30,000."

The average transaction price—or the amount buyers are paying at dealerships—climbed 1.9 percent to $32,160 in February, according to Kelley Blue Book. That amount ticked up as car buyers added on more options, like navigation systems, in-car connectivity and infotainment systems.

—By CNBC's Phil LeBeau. Follow him on Twitter @LeBeauCarNews.

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