America's auto dealers: Tech-savvy family businessmen powering the U.S. economy through service and innovation. Except when their fat fingers price vehicles on the Internet and give dozens of mundane cars prices surpassing $200,000 — before undercoating.
Anyone who's used the Internet to shop for a vehicle knows that whatever's said online frequently doesn't translate to the showroom floor. Auto dealers only reluctantly embraced the Internet, which took away their asymmetric information advantage to keep their final price a mirage disguised by options and finance charges. Most dealers outsource the labor of updating prices and inventory across the multitude of shopping sites, including their own pages.
The Ten Most Overpriced Vehicles
Therefore, it's easy enough to play around with those sites and find vehicles that have been hilariously over-priced — like the $129,888 Kia Rio or the $255,070 Chevy Malibu, both advertised as "Internet Prices." (To keep it fair, we double-checked the most outlandish prices with the dealer's own sites.) Sure, the Ford Crown Victoria will finally go out of service next year, and for many Florida residents it's the last car they'll ever buy, but doesn't anyone in Jacksonville think $289,890 is a little steep?
One might think auto dealers would be careful never to make a mistake in the opposite direction by posting a price that was missing a few digits, especially since state laws generally require dealers to advertise accurate prices. And yet, there are also scores of new cars for sale across the country marked down below $2,000, including what we'd call the deal of the year: an Audi A5 coupe for just $445.
The disclaimers buried in most dealer sites let dealers claim the right to ignore pricing mistakes, a view courts have mostly confirmed, and one that raises the question of whether any online price from a dealer could be legally upheld. But if you want to pay $333,340 for a Volkswagen crossover, go right ahead.