The Easiest 2014 Cars To Bargain For – Forbes
“Only suckers pay full price.” We once worked for a guy who followed those words as closely as if it were one of the 10 commandments, and for all we know might have had that phrase carved onto his tombstone. Certainly when buying a new car or truck the price is almost always negotiable, like horse trading in the olden days. The exception would perhaps be in the upper strata of the industry where one doesn’t purchase, say, a Rolls-Royce or Bentley as much as he or she “commissions” it, like a yacht.
The price a given new-car buyer ultimately pays is a peculiarly and almost constantly moving target that’s subject to a wide range of economic, internal and external factors, none the least of which is our old friend from Economics 101, the law of supply and demand.
Time is money to a new-car dealer, and the longer a new car sits unsold, the more he or she will pay in financing costs to keep it lingering on the lot. In the industry this is measured by a model’s so-called “days in inventory,” with the slowest selling – and thus easiest to bargain for – models sitting for the longest time before finding buyers.
According to Cars.com, the slowest-selling model in the industry last month was the BMW 640i xDrive coupe – this is the base turbocharged six-cylinder version of the automaker’s sporty midsize two-door equipped with its optional all-wheel-drive system. It typically sits unsold on a BMW dealer’s lot for 205 days, which is nearly four times longer than the industry average of 51 days. That means a particularly astute haggler could shave a huge chunk of the dealer’s $6,000 markup off the car’s $78,400 list price, with BMW offering another $7,500 in discounts directly to dealers to help them offer an even lower out-the-door price.
We’re featuring the full top 10 list of 2014 models that should be easiest to bargain for – along with their respective days’ supply and all applicable sales incentives and leasing deals we could unearth – in the accompanying slide show. Note that these are far from being the dredges of the auto industry; they include some otherwise amenable models like the racy Jaguar F-Type, the fuel-saving Mercedes-Benz E400 Hybrid, no less than two models from MINI, the big and comfortable Acura RLX and Cadillac XTS and the eccentrically styled four-door Fiat 500L.
UPDATE: Automotive News reports that Cadillac dealers are sitting on an average 725 days’ supply of the new ELR extended range (like the Chevy Volt) electric coupe. (The numbers may sound dire, but it involves 1,700 unsold models spread across the 530 out of 940 Cadillac dealers who agreed to sell the electrified ELR, which comes to about three per dealership.) That would certainly place it among our “easiest to bargain for” vehicles. What’s more, Caddy is reportedly giving those dealers a cash bonus as rich as $5,000 for simply racking up 750 test-drive miles on the $75,000 ELR. And that’s on top of up to $3,000 in customer discounts the Wall Street Journal says the automaker is offering buyers and lessees to help jump-start sales.
Otherwise, bargain hunters should be able to strike some handsome deals and find generous incentives on midsize sedans this month, as the industry’s stalwart segment is being challenged by compact crossover SUVs for sales supremacy. The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) notes that midsize car sales have dropped by over 11 percent though the first four months of the year, which is the biggest decline of any new-car segment.
“The falloff in mid-size car sales is especially notable considering many of the segment’s top nameplates, like the Nissan Altima, Chevy Malibu, Ford Fusion and Honda Accord, were heavily revised for the 2013 model year,” says Larry Dixon, senior automotive analyst with NADA. “This means shoppers won’t have to sacrifice the latest in style, efficiency and technology for price.”
The association reports that manufacturers’ incentive spending within the midsize car segment has risen by 28 percent through April. Among the richest deals being offered among midsize sedans this month, there’s a $3,000 additional dealer discount being offered on the Volkswagen Passat, up to $2,500 cash back on a Chevrolet Malibu and a $199/month lease for 36 months (with $2,499 due at signing) on the Honda Accord.
Of course the proverbial pendulum swings both ways when it comes to supply and demand. Cars that sell so quickly they use a dealership’s lot as a drive-thru command closer to sticker price than do slower-selling models. What’s more, some limited production cars for which enthusiasts and collectors clamor – like the red-hot Chevrolet Camaro Z28 – can command in excess of the manufacturer’s list price.
Those select models aside, Cars.com reports that of the 20 fastest selling new vehicles in April, 16 were SUVs/crossovers and trucks, with the remaining slots being filled by luxury models and sports cars (and not a single mainstream sedan among them). Here’s a list of the 10 hottest-selling models in the car business, with their respective average days in inventory noted, for which discounts should be the slimmest this month:
- Subaru Forester (2015): 7 days.
- Subaru WRX (2015): 7 days.
- Land Rover Range Rover: 8 days.
- Land Rover Range Rover Sport: 10 days
- Lexus RX 350 (2015): 11 days.
- Mercedes-Benz GL450 (2015): 11 days.
- Chevrolet Suburban 1500 (2015): 13 days.
- Toyota Highlander: 13 days.
- Audi Q5: 14 days.
- Chevrolet Corvette coupe: 14 days.
The Fine Print: Remember, all aspects of a new vehicle transaction – including the terms of a lease – are negotiable, and it’s the rare car or truck that goes out the door selling at full sticker price or above. No matter which model you ultimately choose, be sure to aim for the so-called invoice price (which is a few percent higher than a dealer’s actual cost) as a target, and that’s before deducting any applicable manufacturer’s incentive. Always predetermine the invoice price, including options, of any vehicle you’re considering before heading out to a dealership via a published buyer’s guide or online pricing service.
Our best deals slideshow notes all major incentives that apply to each model, including direct-to-consumer cash rebates, discounted financing promotions and so-called direct-to-dealer marketing support, which we call additional dealer discounts. Often favored by luxury automakers, the latter are cash allowances given to dealers to lower the prices on select models without seeming to cheapen the brand by offering cash rebates. The only catch is that a dealer may or may not automatically pass them on to the customer.
Be aware that additional incentives may apply, such as those often offered to recent college graduates, members of the military and/or those belonging to certain groups. Offers may vary by region and are subject to subsequent modification or termination by the manufacturer; cited promotional financing rates and lease deals are typically open only to qualified buyers with top credit ratings and may vary based on eligibility.