Beware of features that can make you pay more for a new car

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Don't get stuck paying more for your new car.

If you're on the hunt for a new car, you likely have a price in mind when you enter the dealership.

But there's a good chance the car you thought you could afford is probably a lot more. Consumer Reports calls this trim level sticker shock.

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. That means more money out of your pocket.

Look at the Ford F-150, for example. The base price for that truck is $28,000.

At the highest trim level, the truck becomes $61,000.

For the Subaru Forester, the base price is about $23,000. But depending on the trim level, that price could go between $26,000 - $36,000.

To make matters more confusing, sometimes specific features are only available on certain trim levels. That's because with so many features available, manufacturers have to narrow down the choices.

Consumer Reports Auto Expert Jon Linkov recommends focusing first on the must-have safety features, even if you have to pay more, rather than trim levels.

Don't be afraid to negotiate.

October, November and December are the best time of the year to buy a car.

Bankrate says car dealerships are trying to reach end-of-the-year sales quotes over the next three months.
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