American automakers are saying goodbye to real cars, which means it is the perfect time for you to say hello to a great deal.
By real cars, I mean the kind that have a hood, trunk and four doors — otherwise known as sedans. Instead of sensible sedans, Detroit is building more profitable SUVs and pickups. Dodge and Chrysler ditched their small and midsize sedans years ago. Chevrolet is discontinuing many of its historic nameplates, and Ford is killing off all its cars except its iconic Mustang.
On the chopping block are models that are as American as an interstate highway: the Chevy Impala, first made in 1958; the ubiquitous Ford Taurus; and the breakthrough plug-in electric Chevy Volt. The Ford Focus and Fiesta. The Chevy Cruze. Soon, the Ford Fusion.
Still, as we bemoan a rapidly changing world, there is a silver lining: You can buy one of these so-called discontinued sedans at a bargain price before they disappear.
“The shift to SUVs has really opened up the deal-making potential on sedans,” said Karl Brauer, executive publisher of Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book. “If you’re a new vehicle shopper that’s broken free of the SUV trend, it’s a great time to buy.”
Sedans have many advantages. Underneath the skin, many sedans are built on the same chassis and have the same mechanical parts as the SUVs replacing them. But in most cases, they cost less, are cheaper to insure, are smaller, more aerodynamic, easier to park and more fuel efficient than SUVs. Some even have great cargo space.
To find the best deals among these sedans, Julie Blackley, communications manager at iSeeCars, a car buying and information site, analyzed more than 900,000 new cars listed for sale. She said buyers can spot bargains by looking at high inventories on dealer lots; advertised discounts; and, rising manufacturer incentives such as cash rebates, low interest financing and lease specials.
The biggest price drop spotted by iSeeCars is the Chevrolet Volt, probably the best plug-in hybrid on the market. Blackley said the average dealer asking price is nearly $4,000 below the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price and — brace yourself — there is a $4,000 cash allowance. So, without even dickering you get the car for $8,000 off the sticker, or about $23,000 for a base model.
Pricing guides give you an idea of what a car is selling for but with these discontinued domestic sedans, you can negotiate an even lower price if you arm yourself with as much pricing and incentive information as you can. Contact several dealers in your area for price quotes and don’t be in a hurry. Look for a dealer that has plenty of the car that you want to buy in stock.
I recommend e-mailing dealers through the internet department, which operates independently from the traditional sales force. List your “must-have” options and several color choices. Be prepared to be flexible because inventories will be shrinking. When you get a price, make sure it includes all the fees so you can tell whether it really is a good deal.
Oren Weintraub, president of car-buying concierge service AuthorityAuto.com, said he believes the best indication of a bargain is to look at the manufacturer’s incentives, which are often listed on their websites.
Philip Reed is a writer at NerdWallet. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @AutoReed