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The Consumer Reports Bottom Line Price

Find out what the dealer really paid for a car

Last updated: March 2014

To get the lowest price on a new car, don't negotiate down from the sticker price. Instead, negotiate up from the dealer's cost. How can you find that figure? It used to be difficult, but the Consumer Reports Bottom Line Price now makes it easy.

To begin, don't be misled by the dealer-invoice price. The invoice price, which is the figure printed on the automaker's invoice for each vehicle, is now commonly available on Web sites and in pricing guides. Automakers and dealerships freely give you the dealer invoice price. But the invoice price is not necessarily what the dealer paid for the vehicle.

The manufacturer often makes behind-the-scenes payments to the dealer in the form of hidden sales incentives and holdbacks, which increase the dealer's profit margin. These incentives, which can be hundreds or thousands of dollars, aren't revealed to the public, and the dealer can choose whether or not to pass along any savings to the customers. This is how a dealer can afford to sell a vehicle for close to the invoice price, or even below invoice.

The Consumer Reports Bottom Line Price is the only figure that takes all of those factors into consideration. It subtracts any dealer sales incentives, holdbacks, and rebates available in your area from the dealer-invoice price and adds regional advertising fees to give you a good starting point for your negotiations.

The Consumer Reports Bottom Line Price, as well as CR's exclusive reliability information and valuable buying advice, is included in Consumer Reports New-Car Price Report.

Arming you with behind-the-scenes dealer incentive and holdback information, summary information on recent local purchase prices, and knowledge of customer rebate and incentive amounts, the New Car Price Service provides you with all the tools you need to get the car you want at an optimal price. For Canadian new car shoppers, check out the Consumer Reports Canadian New Car Price Service for access to all of the pricing information you need to negotiate your best deal.

   

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