More new car buyers than ever before are paying over sticker price for vehicles. Finding a “deal” looks very different in this market than it did in the past. We have reported on several occasions some pretty egregious dealer markups and there is even a website that is tracking which stores are jacking up prices on specific cars. Our friends at iSeeCars.com shared this latest report for the month, which details what models are more likely to be sold over MSRP.
At first glance, there likely won’t be too many surprises here. Everyone knows that Bronco prices are bonkers right now and with Maverick orders frozen for the time being, that is also going to create some price inflation. However, it’s important to examine how this data was gathered and why it may not be reflective of what buyers can expect in the market.
“iSeeCars analyzed over 1.2 million new cars listed for sale between February 1 and March 25, 2022, and compared their list price to their MSRP. The average difference was expressed as a percentage from MSRP and used to rank models. Low-volume models and heavy-duty vehicles were excluded from further analysis.”
As a professional car shopper, I am exploring deals on all kinds of cars all over the country and the data I look at consists of actual dealer quotes, versus posted prices. While there is certainly a correlation between advertised prices and real markups, it’s important to discuss what is absent from this list and some data that may run contrary to it.
For example, there is not one Honda on this list, yet I have had a heck of a time even finding a regular CR-V for anywhere near MSRP. Though, I have been told by dealer contacts over the years that Honda has some policies in place that discourage dealers from advertising cars over sticker price. Some still put markups online, but most don’t even though they can sell the cars for whatever they want. These policies are going to skew the data in terms of what is advertised for Honda models versus what they are really selling for.
On the flip side, I am finding Jeep inventory surprisingly good compared to other brands, and while some Stellantis-branded dealers are taking full advantage of the market, there are a number of them offering fair prices. Searches on third-party websites like Autotrader and Cars.com will reveal Jeeps advertised below MSRP. I’ve been told by Stellantis dealer contacts that corporate has been structuring programs to encourage dealers to sell at MSRP or better.
Despite the data from iSeeCars, a good shopper might get a reasonable price on a Wrangler. Before the New Year, I scored an order of a Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon in that very cool pink with a super competitive discount.
Here is a quote I got just this week on a well spec’d Wrangler Unlimted 4Xe:
Granted, getting an actual discount on a high-demand Jeep, let alone a discount on anything right now, is a rare occasion, but my point is that if there are dealers willing to sell units under MSRP, the likelihood of finding one without a markup is better than you might expect.
Of course cars on the list like the Lexus NX450h are incredibly challenging to find at a reasonable price, and while this data can be useful to set expectations, consumers aren’t really going to know what they are in for until they start shopping.
Tom McParland is a contributing writer for Jalopnik and runs AutomatchConsulting.com. He takes the hassle out of buying or leasing a car. Got a car buying question? Send it to Tom@AutomatchConsulting.com