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Most cars are available with discounts throughout the year. Sure, holiday sales and marketing can attract and motivate shoppers, but the reality is that prices tend to be fairly consistent month to month. Until now. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, new-car prices have become a roller coaster, impacted by unique supply and demand forces.
We recently published the best nationwide incentives on Consumer Reports–recommended models: the Best New-Car Deals and Best New SUVs Deals. Those forward-looking pieces show where the best deals on good cars and SUVs can be found.
For the analysis presented here, we looked back at recent transaction data to find where people are finding significant savings off the sticker price.
This underscores the importance of knowing how much room is available for negotiation and what others have paid, information that's available on our vehicle model pages. There are many vehicles where extra savings are available, but people are leaving money on the table. In fact our analysis shows that some models below are being sold for up to 14 percent off MSRP.
We focus here on mainstream consumer-targeted vehicles. Outside that scope is the Ram ProMaster cargo van that is selling for 20 percent off.
Most months there are a few models that are given an extra push with incentives tied to supply and/or a coming redesign. Automakers and dealerships need to make room for new vehicles.
Transaction prices remain aggressive for many models, so this can be a great time to buy. But the amount you'll save will vary greatly by model. It may seem surprising, but there are many vehicles that are selling for close to the MSRP. Supply and demand still has sway even during these strange times.
For this list, we focused on what people paid, and we didn't limit the selections to models that meet the stringent criteria to be CR-recommended. We identified 10 models that are selling for well below their sticker price, covering sedans, SUVs, and trucks. With SUVs and trucks, we're seeing an extra percentage point or two off MSRP on front-drive versions.
You might be able to negotiate an even lower price as some dealerships clamor for business. But bear in mind that there's a limit to how low prices can go.
The other maxim to keep in mind is that deals can vary not only by vehicle but also by geographic region. Being armed with the latest information on pricing, rebates, and transaction prices can help net a good deal.
The 2021 models below are listed in descending order of savings off the MSRP by percentage. The savings that other buyers have recently experienced on these vehicles are 9 to 20 percent off the original price.
Pricing details on these versions and other trims are available on our model pages, along with complete road tests, reliability, owner satisfaction, and other key information. CR members can log in to see the car ratings.
Even though these deals are relatively good, it's wise to buy when the time is right for you. Dealerships will be happy to sell you a car anytime. (If you want to buy now, read about the CR Build & Buy service and its new Buy From Home program below.)
Shop CR's Car Buying Service From Home
The Consumer Reports Build & Buy Car Buying Service is evolving to factor in the challenges of shopping during the pandemic. The core service engages a nationwide network of over 16,000 dealers to provide upfront pricing information and a certificate to receive guaranteed savings off MSRP. A growing number of dealerships are enrolled in the Buy From Home program, which lets consumers complete the buying process without going to a dealership.
Participating dealerships will take you through the paperwork remotely and deliver a sanitized vehicle right to your home, all at a fair price. When using the Build & Buy Car Buying Service, accessed through the car model pages, you'll find Buy From Home participants denoted by a special banner highlighting “Buy From Home: Have your vehicle delivered to you and complete your paperwork at home.”
Volvo S60: 15% Off
Acura ILX: 14% Off
Volkswagen Atlas: 14% Off
Cadillac XT6: 12% Off
Volvo XC90: 11% Off
Ram 1500: 10% Off
Volkswagen Jetta: 10% Off
Honda Pilot: 10% Off
Chevrolet Silverado 1500: 9% Off
Toyota Avalon: 9% Off
Tips for Buying a New Car
There are a lot of things to consider when buying a new car. On the "Consumer 101" TV show, Consumer Reports expert Kelly Funkhouser explains to host Jack Rico what to look for before taking a test-drive.