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Why Car Prices Vary From City To City

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- If you're in the market for a new Ford (F - Get Report) F-150 truck, you're better off looking in Chicago than Atlanta.

Edmunds.com's True Market Value Calculator says you can save $4,100.

Or maybe you yearn for a Toyota (TM - Get Report) Camry? If so, buy it in Dallas and not New York City -- you'll save $2,300.

Like it or not, especially if you live in Atlanta and New York, the price you pay for a brand-new car or truck differs from city to city. That's mostly due to regional variations and some other factors (hello, Mother Nature) beyond the control of new-vehicle buyers.

"A new or used car in New York won't necessarily sell for the same price as a similar car in California," Edmunds.com pricing analyst Richard Arca says. "Car buyers should be aware that, along with regional incentives, factors like increased local demand and even local weather conditions can affect car prices within a market."

"It's not too different from what we see every day in the fluctuation of gas prices," he says.

The F-150 deal comes down to cash incentives; consumers in Chicago can expect a $5,000 incentive compared with just $500 in Atlanta. That explains the $31,942 price tag in the Windy City compared with $36,080 in Hotlanta.

In fact, Atlanta is the most expensive city in the U.S. to buy a new truck, while New York City is the priciest to buy a midsize sedan ($22,355 for a 2013 Toyota Camry). If it's an SUV you want, avoid Chicago ($22,859 for a 2013 Ford Escape), and San Francisco will have you digging deepest into your bank account for a compact car ($17,854 for a 2013 Toyota Corolla.)

Edmunds says that sometimes vehicle prices vary for no special reason.

A 2013 Mercedes-Benz C250 Sport Sedan costs $33,624 in Houston and Chicago, but only $32,036 in Philadelphia. Mercedes doesn't offer cash incentives, but prices for the sedan vary geographically anyway.

That makes the Edmunds TMV calculator worth a look. Just pop in the make, model and year of the car or truck you want, then add ZIP codes for different cities to get the best deal.

After that, a $300 plane ticket can get you behind the wheel of a new vehicle with savings of several thousands of dollars in your back pocket.

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