WASHINGTON — The average interest rate for new-car loans dropped sharply in February, while the amount financed increased, according to the latest Federal Reserve Statistical Report.

The average interest rate for U.S. new-car loans was 3.17 percent in February 2009, a steep decline from 8.23 percent the previous month, and below the 5.52 percent average in 2008.

Interestingly, average term, loan-to-value (LTV) and amount financed were relatively unchanged between January and February.

The average term for a new-car loan was 59 months, down 0.3 months from January, and off from the 62.6 average recorded in the first quarter 2008.

The average LTV remained steady at 86 percent, while the amount financed increased from $22,922 in January to $26,268 in February.