John Stoll & Jeff Bennett:

Ford said the average price paid for F-series pickups in April was a record. The $42,600 average was “an incredible number…up more than $3,200” from a year ago, said Ford’s sales chief Mark LaNeve.

The trajectory is supported by less discounting, but the foundation for the higher prices is longer-duration loans.

In an industry where 36-month terms once were standard, it now is common to see loans spanning seven years. Executives say these loans are available to buyers with good credit looking for a low monthly payment on a premium car, but come with the downside of potentially locking those buyers out of the new-car market for several years.

“We do see a little bit of escalation up into 80, 84-month terms,” Ford’s Mr. LaNeve said, adding: “we have dipped our toe in and we want to do whatever is right for our customers.” senior auto analyst Jessica Caldwell said new car loans in April averaged 67.8 months—the longest average in history. In many cases, she said, buyers use the longer terms “to finance vehicles with higher transaction prices than they might otherwise choose.”

AutoWeb’s Mr. Harley said car makers “have learned that people are fixed on monthly outlays.” If a dealer can lower the monthly payments a buyer will walk out of the store and “realize that they spent $5,000 or $10,000 more than they initially planned to.”