Car prices are also higher.
In 2013, the average transaction price for a new car was $32,000, said Alec Gutierrez, senior analyst for the Kelley Blue Book auto pricing website. In 2007, the average price was $29,000.
The 2013 price, though, is about even with the rate of inflation during the period. Part of the reason for the bigger price tags is that the huge incentives that manufacturers used to offer are no longer available.
"Automakers are a lot more disciplined," Gutierrez said. "Just last year, GM once or twice cut back production of the Chevrolet Malibu and Volt because sales expectations were not meeting the inventory that was available.
"In the past, they would have slapped a $5,000 incentive on it...and kept production going."
And cars cost more to produce in 2013.
"At a broad level, prices are on the rise and that has more to do with what's going into the cars being produced," Gutierrez said.
That includes "a little bit of everything," he said. "Aluminum architecture in platforms and in engine blocks. Carbon fiber. Lane departure warning systems."
Some of the higher costs that consumers will pay will be offset by improved fuel economy. The average fuel economy for the U.S. fleet in 2013 was 24 to 25 miles per gallon. That's about a 17% improvement over 2007.
"You're going to pay a little more for the car upfront because there has been so much investment in weight savings and fuel economy," Gutierrez said. "But at the end of the day, you are going to get a lot of that back based on the money you save."
He sees a robust market continuing into 2014. "There are still a lot of people looking for a good car," he said.
As long as interest rates stay relatively low, he said the sales should continue.
Auto makers report strong December sales.
Edmunds.com claims used car prices to drop in 2013.
Consumer Reports releases 2013 car brand report cards.
Say Edmunds.com analysts