Research shows that women are the fastest growing segment of car buyers, accounting for more than 50 percent of new-car purchases and influencing 80 percent of them. But while the Internet has definitely helped women come into dealerships armed and ready with information, an ongoing study by Frost & Sullivan found that between 50 and 70 percent of women customers were dissatisfied with their cars, and three out of four women felt misunderstood by car companies.
"In many ways, it's an old game with a new face," says Jen Drexler, senior vice president at Insight Strategy Group , a research and strategy firm in New York City. "So while there is more technology at a woman's disposal, the dealer hasn't changed much in how they approach female customers."
When it comes to shopping for an automobile, buyers of both genders make mistakes that can cost them time and money (See "The 11 Biggest Mistakes Car Shoppers Make." ) But there are a few missteps that a woman is more likely to make, according to interviews with shopping experts and women who sell cars for a living. These mistakes can put a woman at a disadvantage during the buying process. Here are the eight biggest pitfalls women should avoid to ensure a deal that works best for them, according to our outside experts and the consumer-advice team at Edmunds.com.
Mistake No. 1: She thinks she needs a man to help her with the process.
Every woman has heard the warnings: Walk into a dealership alone and you're going to get taken for a ride (and we're not talking about the test-drive).
The solution: Self-confidence. Women are very able to shop without men at their sides. In fact, when it comes to researching and negotiating, women are often more prepared than their male counterparts.
"Women can definitely feel confident flying solo during the car buying process," says Drexler. "They have all the information they could need from sites like Edmunds — and women are actually excellent negotiators. We just need to have the confidence to believe we can do it alone."
If you're at all hesitant to visit a dealership solo, bring a " wingman " — and that person doesn't have to be male. If you have a friend or family member who is especially good at reviewing contracts, have her look over your paperwork before you close any deals.
Finally, dealership reviews can help shoppers weed out places that might not be female-friendly.
Mistake No. 2: She gets too attached to one salesperson.
"Women are more relationship-oriented; we're not just all about the deal," says Tammy Darvish, executive vice president of business development and government and community affairs for the Pentagon Federal Credit Union ( PenFed ). Until her move to PenFed, Darvish was vice president of her family's business, Darcars Automotive Group in Silver Spring, Maryland. "The end result is that we're sometimes willing to pay more to close a deal with someone who provided a more comfortable transaction."
The solution: First and foremost, this is a business transaction, so don't focus on the relationship at the expense of the deal. Most of us (male or female) would like to have a comfortable, stress-free car-buying experience. If the price of that is $100 more than you wanted to pay, no big deal. But you shouldn't hang onto a relationship with a salesperson if it's going to cost you thousands of dollars.
Shop around for the best deal. Comparing quotes from three dealerships' Internet departments will typically yield the best price and provide you with some back-up offers if you need them. You also can use Edmunds Price Promise SM to quickly get guaranteed, up-front prices on a specific car without any haggling.
Finally, a benefit of shopping via the Internet is that it's much easier to ask for a better price or reject an offer you don't like when you're not doing it face to face.
Mistake No. 3: She's often too forgiving when mistakes are made.
According to Darvish, women are more likely to let mistakes slide, even if they could potentially cost them money in the end. The errors that happen may be unintentional. But some dealerships or salespeople lowball shopper trade-ins, or fail to disclose all of a deal's fees . If there are last-minute changes in a lease agreement and the female shopper doesn't call them out because she doesn't want to seem pushy, it's money out of her wallet.
The solution: Ask for a breakdown of fees and the "out-the-door" price of the car and review that paperwork carefully before signing. If you catch any mistakes, request that they be fixed and then stick to your guns.
If the dealer refuses to correct mistakes, then you need to be prepared to walk away, even if that means starting the process all over again with someone new. Trust us: When dealerships catch mistakes that would cost them money, they ask customers to pay the revised amount — or they scotch the deal.
Mistake No. 4: She's less likely to walk away from a sale that's going south.
Car shopping can be a real pain, so it's enticing to want to try to get it done as quickly as possible, particularly if things are souring and the pressure is on. But that "let's get it over with" attitude will not serve a woman well at the dealership.
Salespeople may push hard on shoppers to buy that very day. If a certain color isn't available on the dealership's own lot, a salesperson eager for a right-now sale might not suggest a dealer trade . Some salespeople will say that the price is good only for today. That might be true, if there's an incentive that closes out at the end of the month and it's the last day of the month. But there's typically another deal come the first of the next month. A salesperson might say that someone else is interested in the car — and that might or might not be true. All of these approaches can be used to get a shopper to buy on the spot.
The solution : Give yourself enough time when car shopping. Doing it all in one day is rarely a good idea. If you refuse to sign on the dotted line that day, the salesperson might go out of his way to make you an even better deal the following day. (But in case it really was an expiring offer, it's good to have those other dealers' price quotes in hand.)
Edmunds consumer advice experts say it's best to do the initial comparison shopping (including test-drives) on one day. And then sleep on it. You'll make a better buying decision the next day.
Mistake No. 5: She doesn't conceptualize vehicle storage space and how much she actually needs.
This is especially true when it comes to trunk size, says Laura Madison , who sells cars at Toyota of Bozeman in Bozeman, Montana. While a man is more likely to come in with exact measurements and a tape measure, a woman will try to wing it.
"She'll look at the trunk and think, 'It looks big enough,' but she forgets about all of the items she really needs to cart around on any given day, such as kids' sports equipment, boxes of samples for work, a dog crate, etc."
The solution: Take a good look at what you'll be putting in the trunk before you start shopping. If possible, bring your most important items with you for the test-drive. That could be baby gear, such as car seats and strollers. If you're a real estate agent, bring the signs you use for open houses. If your kids play team sports and travel, make sure their equipment and bags will fit.
Mistake No. 6: She's talked out of a deal by family and friends.
It's a bit of a stereotype, but a man typically sees, wants and buys, and nothing can deter him from closing that deal. But even if a woman has done her research, negotiated the best price and really loves the car she's getting, a few negative whispers in her ear can be enough to cast doubt — especially if those whispers are uttered by a man in her life.
"Getting another person's opinion is important, but you want to make sure that person is educated about cars," says Madison. "If someone is advising a woman, it's almost always a man, but that doesn't mean he's an expert."
The solution: The majority of the time, a woman is better off trusting her own research (and instincts) on whether or not to sign on the dotted line.
Mistake No. 7: She compares apples to oranges.
While women are usually well-versed in different makes and models (thank you, World Wide Web), Madison finds that her female customers often come in expecting the same deal for two completely different vehicles.
For example, a shopper will come in interested in a Toyota Highlander and a Toyota Prius — and want to stay within the same budget and get the same amenities, even though they're two different types of cars: a full-size SUV and a hybrid hatchback. Plus there's roughly a $13,600 price difference between them for the top trim levels.
The solution: This is where doing research is vital. Edmunds offers users the option of comparing up to four cars at a time to figure out exactly what each vehicle offers in features, as well as its price ranges for various trim levels and option packages.
Mistake No. 8: She nitpicks over color.
According to Madison, women are pickier than men when it comes to the color of the car that they drive. And they're willing to hold off on a sale (even if it's a great price) until the hue they want comes in. "Men don't seem to care as much about the color of the car they drive," she says.
The solution: If the dealer is offering a sweet deal on a neon orange vehicle and that's not your color, then feel free to skip it. If your heart really is set on a color, you can custom order it and still negotiate the price. But if it's the difference between driving a silver car or a gray one, don't miss out on a good buy over a shade or two of difference.
If there's one thing that women and men can agree on, it's that shopping for a car isn't much fun. In fact, a recent Edmunds survey found that one in five people would willingly give up sex for a month rather than haggle for a new car. Yes, that's what they actually said.
That dread over car shopping might contribute to the mistakes that many people make during the process. But some blunders might be directly related to gender. While the majority of women's mistakes circle back to insecurity, men's blunders during the car-shopping process seem to be influenced by the male ego, the experts say.
"Male buyers are often more stubborn in the sales process than their female counterparts, and less likely to listen to a dealer's suggestion because hard-headed men know best," says Matt Jones , senior editor, retail experience, at Edmunds.com. Jones worked for 12 years as a car salesman, Internet sales manager and finance and insurance manager.
So where else do the guys falter when they're car shopping? Here are the seven most common mistakes male car buyers make, according to our outside experts and the consumer advice team at Edmunds.com.
Mistake No. 1: He doesn't like to shop, so he rushes through the process.
A recent survey from the United Kingdom found that when it comes to shopping, men get bored after a mere 26 minutes . In fact, research shows that women not only do more research than men before stepping into a car dealership, they're more likely to decide on a price before they go shopping for their next vehicle, which translates into more savings for them.
"Men typically don't spend a lot of time in the research process, figuring out what they want and how much to pay for it," says Rick Pennington, who has been in the car business for 25 years and now is a consultant at JD Power and Associates . "As a result, they're more spontaneous with their decisions when car buying. They want to fulfill that desire quickly , so they sometimes wind up with the car they want, not necessarily the one they need."
The solution: Break down the shopping process. If you're a guy who finds research less than fascinating, do it in stages. If you know you're going to be in the market for a new car in the next few months, map out your plan of attack. Use part of the time to look at different models online, both on sites such as Edmunds.com and on carmaker Web sites such as Honda , Ford or Mercedes-Benz and think about the car that would best fit your needs .
Once you're narrowed your choices, do some price comparisons. If you think the fun part of shopping is seeing, touching and driving the cars, you can have all that during test-drives . Just don't make the purchase that same day. Go home and sleep on it. That will temper any tendency to buy fast and regret slowly.
Mistake No. 2: He is too proud to ask for help, even though he really needs it.
Men know a lot about cars, right? That common belief, which is held by both genders, can make it difficult for a guy to admit that he needs some guidance before signing on the dotted line.
In fact, a recent Edmunds survey found that women are twice as likely as men to seek advice from a family member during the car buying process, which is an endeavor that not only requires a buyer to know a little something about cars, but also about financing, extended warranties and, usually, price negotiations. It's an overwhelming process for the majority of people.
"Some men just aren't negotiators and will simply accept whatever is presented to them, even if it costs them money," says Pennington. "But asking for help can seem like a blow to the ego for some men, so many are willing to go it alone when they shouldn't."
The solution: The wingman. Think of it this way: Even pilots and police officers work with a partner. Bringing a wingman is not a signal to the salesperson that you're clueless. In fact, it's a message that you're committed to getting the best deal possible. Just be sure you choose your wingman wisely , bringing along a friend or family member who has a certain skill you might lack, whether that's doing mental math or knowing the best trim level for the money. Sometimes it's just good to have an all-purpose sounding board. As Tom Cruise's Maverick said in Top Gun : "Talk to me, Goose."
Mistake No. 3: He relies too much on referrals from his pals.
On the other end of the go-it-alone spectrum, there's the guy who relies too much on his friends' opinions. This, despite the fact that the Edmunds survey also found that friends are consistently rated as the worst source for car-buying advice, and are twice as likely to be cited as a source of bad advice than a source of good advice.
"Many men will take the word of a friend who bought a car from a specific salesperson and not shop around as a result," says Oren Weintraub, president at Authority Auto , a concierge car-buying service.
Or the friend might actually work in the car industry and the shopper doesn't want to risk offending his buddy by looking at other deals.
The solution: Don't sacrifice the deal for the relationship. Weintraub says it's fine to mix business with pleasure, as long as you've still done your own research and can come to the table knowing exactly what you want and what you're willing to pay for it.
If your friend is the car seller, be honest in your discussions. Make it clear that you're walking away from a deal that doesn't work for you, not severing the friendship. If your friend really values you, he'll understand.
Mistake No. 4: He thinks he knows more than the dealer.
It can be hard for some men to admit that the salesperson might be able to provide valuable input about a car, especially when he's walking into the negotiation process seeing the dealer as "the enemy."
"Men believe they're supposed to know more, so they pretend that they do, even when they have lots of questions and need some guidance," says Pennington. "They turn into their own roadblock in getting a good deal."
The solution: Listen to honest advice . While a shopper definitely wants to do his due diligence with research, he also needs to remember that dealers are educated, not only about the cars they're selling, but about the buying process as a whole. That can make them good sources of information. You can also verify what they're telling you through online research or by shopping other dealerships.
Mistake No. 5: He sees the car as a status symbol.
Who doesn't want to drive a nice car? But while women often focus on safety features, gas mileage and price, men are often more concerned with how a particular car's size, styling and power make them feel, as well as the image that the car projects to the world. That could be one reason why more than 90 percent of Lamborghini owners are men.
"Whatever a man's motivation — he wants luxury, a sports car, something that is eco-friendly — he wants it to the extreme," says Pennington.
But the car you want and fantasize about is not necessarily the car you actually need. The motivation to impress others or live out a teenage fantasy is not a good enough reason to get a vehicle, especially if you're going to regret it later on (like when you bring it home to your spouse).
The solution: While you don't want to shop with Debbie Downer , you do need a reality check from a trusted friend or your significant other. This person can ask you the tough questions, like "Can you really afford this car?" or "Should you really buy a two-seat convertible when you have three kids under the age of 5 at home?"
Mistake No. 6: He sees the negotiation as a test of his manhood and won't take a good deal because it doesn't fit into his preconceived and unrealistic expectations.
Here's a typical scenario: A salesman and buyer are negotiating a price on a car. After some to and fro, the salesman is willing to seal the deal at $500 over the invoice price . And for that car, it is objectively a good deal. But the buyer has read somewhere that a good deal is never more than the invoice price. It's not unusual for a man to walk away from such a deal because it doesn't fit into his notion of how it was supposed to conclude.
"Men are also more likely to view a car sale as a competition: me vs. the dealer instead of me and the dealer," says Jones. "That type of reasoning means somebody has to win, and for that to happen, somebody has to lose. This line of thinking can eliminate the opportunity for a win-win situation."
The solution: Ask any married couple: Compromise isn't always easy. But do you want to start over again at another dealership over $25 per month (that's about $1,500 over the span of a six -year car loan)? If the deal is nearly done and you really love the car, that doesn't really make sense.
Instead of saying no right away, you can sometimes take a day to think about the deal and figure out if it is truly the best one for you. You could even use that time (but no more than a day) to invite other dealers to beat the price. Either way, you get the car you want and save yourself a whole lot of time.
Mistake No. 7: He overanalyzes every aspect of the deal because he doesn't want to make the wrong decision, and so he winds up not making a decision at all.
While some men hate digging into the details of research, others are just the opposite.
Some male car shoppers tie themselves into knots so completely, comparing so many different models, features and prices that they're incapable of pulling the trigger on a deal. They're paralyzed at the thought of making the wrong choice.
"Men think, 'I'm going to devise this system — whether it's making spreadsheets or reading every piece of information available on a car — and use it to arrive at the perfect decision ,'" says Philip Reed , senior consumer advice editor at Edmunds.
"The fear is that you'll make the wrong choice or, even worse, find out later that someone you know got the same car for a better price."
The solution: It helps to keep in mind that in today's automotive market, there are no really bad choices, Reed says. That's partly because cars are so dependable today. "There's not that same concern about buying a lemon anymore," he says. "The chances of that happening are few and far between."
When all is said and done, spreadsheet guys should keep in mind that this is, after all, just buying a car. It's not a life-changing decision like getting married or even buying a house. And even if you love the car, you probably won't be driving it for the rest of your life. The average, actually, is about six years .
If you dream of surprising a loved one with a car, there are a few things you need to do a little differently. That's because giving a car as a surprise isn't as easy as delighting your beloved with a ring or a set of golf clubs. Here is a quick list of do's and don'ts.
Do make sure you choose the right car. It may sound obvious, but this is the most important step. There is no room for error. If the person receiving the gift doesn't like the car, you won't be able to return it. In most cases, you cannot "unwind" a new car purchase . So remember to carefully research the vehicle your beloved wants.
Ask about the type of features your loved one would want in a new car. If you see a commercial for a car you think the person might like, ask for his or her opinion about it. A test drive would be ideal, but it can be hard to pull off. You can try, though, positioning it as a day to try out what a new car feels like. Do these things well in advance of the special day so that the timing doesn't tip the recipient off.
Do have a titling and finance strategy. Your first instinct might be to have the vehicle put in your loved one's name. In some states, this may not be legally possible. Depending on where you live, you cannot buy a car in someone else's name, or if you want a shared title, the other person must be there to sign the paperwork. That would obviously ruin the surprise.
It is a similar situation when it comes to paying for the car. You must be prepared to buy the car yourself, or at least have the credit standing to be able to do so.
Here's what we mean: Let's say your gift is actually the down payment, and the recipient is going to take over the payments. The dealer would need to run the credit of the person who will make the payments. However, you cannot give the dealership the credit information of someone who isn't present at the time of buying. One option might be to finance the car in your name and then return with the person who will co-sign — assuming the person is on board with that — to set up new finance terms.
In both situations, it is important to check with the dealership or your local DMV to learn your state's laws regarding finance and vehicle titles.
Do tell the dealership to keep your plans a secret. Tell your salesperson what you're doing and that you want this car to be a surprise. That can help you navigate around any titling and financing issues without spoiling the secret. If possible, try to keep the circle of people working on your deal relatively small. The more people you involve, the harder it is to keep everyone on the same page.
Don't expect a dealership to throw in a free gift bow. It isn't because those giant gift wraps are overly expensive: They can range from about $30 to $60 each, depending on size and quality. But chances are the dealership will have bows in stock only during certain times of the year (December, notably) and then only to cover the cars displayed in the showroom.
There are companies that sell oversized car bows, which attach to a car with either magnets or suction cups. Make sure you order yours in time for the surprise.
Don't give the dealership your home phone number. The same might go for your mobile number if your text messages are shared between devices. Here's an example of why, from Matt's years selling cars:
A customer was going to surprise his wife with a new, top-of-the-line Honda Accord and planned to have it delivered to their house during a holiday dinner. The husband had even sprung for a big red bow.
When his salesperson called to confirm the delivery time, he made the mistake of calling the home phone number. And then he left a message. The wife heard it, ruining a surprise that was months in the making.
Our advice? Get a temporary Google Voice phone number for your car-buying calls. You can also just have your calls forwarded to it from your usual phone until the deal is complete.
Don't wait until the last minute to start shopping. This is especially true if you're looking for a particular trim level, package or color combination. And because you're buying this vehicle as a gift, shouldn't you get the exact options your recipient wants? If you're shopping for the car as a holiday gift, it's even more crucial: December is one of the busiest times of the year to buy a car, and since it coincides with the end of the model year, you might not have a varied selection. This is why it is important to start the process as early as possible. You don't want to have to buy a less optioned vehicle or, worse, spend more on a higher trim if that's all that remains on the dealer lot.
Edmunds Is Here to Help
If you need any help at all as you find your perfect gift car, reach out to our shopping experts for free assistance. And don't forget the bow.
The end of the calendar year has long been considered one of the best times to buy or lease a new car. As the new model year vehicles roll in, dealerships are motivated to sell the outgoing models and make sure they hit their year-end sales goals. These factors can add up to some of the best savings of the year. In fact, Edmunds data shows that December tends to have the largest discount from MSRP of any month. November comes close, but December slightly edges past it.
But what good is a deal if you can't find it? Who hasn't been swept up in the enthusiasm of a great sale, only to realize that the item is sold out?
With that in mind, we've looked at the remaining inventory of 2016 models and have compiled a list of recommended vehicles for new car shopping deals. These are solid picks that you're likely to find still on hand at the dealer, and get an even greater deal before the year ends. Click on each model to see the best deals in your area.
2016 Ford Focus
Edmunds says: You'll find the Focus to be one of the more engaging cars in the compact car class, with nimble handling that doesn't come at the expense of ride comfort. The Focus additionally boasts a sharp-looking interior that can be loaded up with the latest technology. This is especially true for 2016, as Ford has fitted the Focus with its all-new Sync 3 touchscreen interface , which promises quicker responses and easier operation than the discontinued MyFord Touch system. Starting MSRP: $18,100.
2016 Nissan Altima
Edmunds says: Nissan has done well historically with continuously variable transmissions (CVT) and the 2016 Altima continues that tradition. Nissan's CVT is more responsive when you press on the gas pedal compared to its competitors, and the simulated stepped gears reduce some of the engine drone that others suffer from. Sporty handling isn't a priority for most family sedan buyers, obviously, so for the majority of drivers the Altima will be adequate, though not impressive. Starting MSRP: $23,335.
2016 Chevrolet Malibu
Edmunds says: Seat comfort is a strong point in the 2016 Malibu. The power driver seat (we haven't tested the manual version) slides back farther than the Honda Accord's, making this Chevy a strong pick for long-legged shoppers, and all front-row riders will likely find support and cushioning to be satisfactory. In back, the Malibu's newly elongated wheelbase opens up enough legroom to challenge rivals including the Ford Fusion, though in our experience, the Accord and Hyundai Sonata offer even more. Still, the Malibu is now competitive in terms of backseat space, and that addresses a major complaint about the previous-generation car. Starting MSRP: $22,500.
2016 Toyota Highlander
Edmunds says: The Highlander stands out by virtue of its spacious and comfortable cabin. Second-row seating is a choice of three-across bench seating or two captain's chairs with a side table. The refined V6 and smooth six-speed automatic transmission deliver effortless acceleration making the Highlander one of the quickest big crossovers around. There are also plenty of contemporary tech tools and smartphone-integrated services, anchored by an 8-inch high-resolution touchscreen display in the higher trim levels. Starting MSRP: $30,490.
2016 Ford Edge
Edmunds says: Despite its midsize footprint and generous passenger and cargo room, the Edge feels tidy and maneuverable on the road. That's due in no small part to the improvements Ford made to the body structure and suspension when it fully redesigned the Edge in 2015. The result is a crossover that exceeds two tons but manages to drive more like a tall sedan. Throw in the all-wheel-drive Edge Sport's turbocharged V6 and you've got a seriously speedy crossover that can challenge some luxury brand models. Starting MSRP: $29,595.
2016 Honda CR-V
Edmunds says: Everyday usability is the driving force behind the CR-V's interior design. The wide doors allow for easy ingress and egress, and head- and legroom are ample for front and outboard rear passengers. A passenger sitting in the rear middle seat will also appreciate the lack of a protruding transmission tunnel that would otherwise necessitate an uncomfortable seating position. Farther back, the CR-V's cargo area is vast, with 37.2 cubic feet of space ready to swallow just about anything you want to throw back there. Pull the trunk-mounted levers and the spring-loaded rear seats fold down immediately, nearly doubling the CR-V's cargo capacity. Starting MSRP: $24,645.
2016 BMW 5 Series
Edmunds says: The current-generation 5 Series is a little different from those hallowed models that came before it. It's a big, comfy and impeccably refined midsize sedan with an emphasis on luxury rather than sport. It doesn't provide the expected degree of handling precision and engagement that driving enthusiasts might want, but it does have a spacious cabin fitted with top-notch materials and a huge number of available comfort, convenience and high-tech features. Starting MSRP: $51,195.
2016 Mercedes C-Class
Edmunds says: The updated 2016 C-Class carries over all of the strengths of the redesigned 2015 model, including added rear legroom and eye-catching styling inside and out, as well as an optional air suspension that's unique in the compact luxury car segment. Furthermore, the advanced safety technology that has become a modern Mercedes hallmark is fully present here, such as standard automatic emergency braking, a rare inclusion in this price range. With its luxurious interior, advanced powertrains and high-tech safety and driver assistance features, the 2016 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is one of the best small luxury sedans you can buy. Starting MSRP: $38,950.
2016 Buick Verano
Edmunds says: The 2016 Buick Verano presents an upscale yet reserved exterior, a well-crafted interior and a substantial list of standard and optional luxury and high-tech features. With the Buick Verano, GM has done a nice job of providing an entry-level luxury compact sedan that won't get you laughed out of the executive lunchroom or relegated to the back rows of the country club parking lot. Starting MSRP: $21,990.
2016 Dodge Challenger
Edmunds says: While the muscle car styling and menu of powerful engines are of obvious appeal, you might not realize how practical the Challenger can be. Adults can fit in the backseat. It has a trunk equivalent to that of a full-size sedan. The ride quality is comfortable. The features list is packed full of comfort, convenience, entertainment and high-tech safety items. Even the V6 gets decent fuel economy. The Challenger is a car that will please whether you're taking the kids to school, driving across the country, or participating in a burnout contest. Starting MSRP: $27,990.
2016 Chevrolet Colorado
Edmunds says: With its refined demeanor and feature-laden interior, the 2016 Chevrolet Colorado is a very appealing option for a midsize pickup or an alternative to a full-size truck. Midsize rivals surpass it off-road, but the Colorado's new diesel engine is a game-changer. The other notable update to the 2016 Colorado is the arrival of Apple CarPlay smartphone integration in trucks equipped with the available 8-inch MyLink touchscreen interface. This should make the Colorado that much more appealing for buyers who crave uninterrupted connectivity. Starting MSRP: $20,995.
2016 Acura TLX
Edmunds says: The TLX is a well-rounded, nicely furnished sedan for the money, and unlikely to let you down over the long haul. Comparably equipped European rivals carry significantly higher price tags, and they also tend to depreciate more quickly and cost more to repair when the warranty expires. In other words, the TLX is arguably a smart choice, and being smart in the midsize luxury sedan segment can save you a lot of money, both now and in the future. Plus, it has one of the best-sounding stereos around. If that's your kind of luxury sedan, the 2016 Acura TLX could be your next car. Starting MSRP: $32,635.
Not a fan of our picks, but still want a great deal? Here's a list of automakers with the most and fewest available 2016 models. This should help you plan out what dealerships to visit over the holidays.
Most Available 2016 Models
Fewest Available 2016 Models
Members of the armed forces are skilled in defending themselves and their country, but for young military personnel, buying cars for the first time can be a tricky maneuver.
In particular, service members returning from overseas with accumulated paychecks and the desire for a car can make buy-fast, regret-later decisions at car dealerships.
That's why Robert "Camo" Gleisberg, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel and a community education officer for Pacific Marine Credit Union, set up a car-buying class at the Camp Pendleton, near Oceanside, California.
Gleisberg tells the "young troopers" in his classes that they don't have to go into the car-buying process unarmed (metaphorically, of course). Servicemen and servicewomen have a range of resources to help them prepare for buying their first car. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau provides information and support to military members about car-buying and other major purchases. And the Better Business Bureau has a special initiative for the military and veterans.
These experts and others provided this basic training for service members who are car shopping. It's helpful for civilians as well:
1. Conduct target-price reconnaissance. As basic as it sounds, many service members haven't checked the value of the vehicles they are considering buying, says Sheryl Reichert, CEO of the Better Business Bureau that covers California's San Diego, Orange and Imperial counties. Use Edmunds.com's True Market Value ® (TMV ® ) pricing for new, used and certified pre-owned cars. It's also smart to check local classified listings to accurately gauge the asking price of cars. Knowing the numbers behind the deal will make you a good negotiator.
2. Plan for the total cost of a car. In his car-buying class, Gleisberg uses the acronym GRIM to educate buyers. There's more to a car's cost than just its purchase price, he says:
G is for gas costs. Buy a fuel-efficient car.
R is for registration. "We're not talking peanuts here," Gleisberg says. Registration costs can exceed $300 for a new car.
I is for insurance. Choose your car wisely or insurance could be more than the monthly car payment.
M is for maintenance. Gleisberg tells his classes to set aside extra money for routine service and repairs.
3. Negotiate with your feet. Craig Hughes, a financial counselor based at the Marine Corps Air Station in Miramar, California, told Edmunds that he gives young military car buyers this advice: "Be prepared to do an about-face if you don't like what you're hearing."
4. Get good intel. Check the dealership's rating and reviews at Edmunds. If other shoppers have had a good experience, chances are you will, too.
5. Return to Base. Most shoppers test-drive a car and if they like it, they plunge into negotiations. Instead, Gleisberg recommends that you leave the car lot after a test-drive. Then you can contact local dealerships' Internet department managers for price quotes or shop for Edmunds.com Price Promise ® offers.
6. Know the rules of engagement. When you sign the sales contract, you are legally obligated to make all the car payments. Unlike many other large purchases, there is no "cooling-off period" when you buy a car. It's not a bad idea to sleep on your purchase decision before you sign the paperwork.
For more about the car-buying process, take a look at Edmunds' articles on how to get new cars , used cars and leased cars . There's also a special guide for first-time car-buyers .
Armed with good information and the right attitude, military car buyers can get the vehicle that's right for them.
An auto show presents the rare opportunity to look at nearly every new vehicle from multiple brands in one place without the pressure to buy. It also gives you a chance to see the latest models before they hit the dealer showrooms, and provides a closer look at concept or exotic cars you might dream of buying. And aside from being an enthusiast's playground, an auto show can be a valuable tool if you're in the market to buy a new car.
The Los Angeles Auto Show kicks off the season in November. January brings the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The Chicago Auto Show follows in February, and the New York International Auto Show closes out the U.S. season in April. In addition to these four major U.S. shows, there are a number of smaller auto shows in cities throughout the country. Edmunds keeps a more detailed list of these. You can follow auto shows via Facebook, Twitter or other social media sites. The shows use these to highlight some vehicles in advance and give you more information on associated events.
You can approach an auto show from two shopper's perspectives: If you're just getting started and have no idea what car is right for you , use the show to see what's new and which models grab your attention. If you already have an idea of the car you want, use the show to get a closer look at a vehicle and check out its competition. Here are some other tips for becoming a sharp-eyed auto-show shopper and researcher:
Plan a Course of Action, Via Your Smartphone
Most of the major auto shows have smartphone apps that feature a map of the show floor, exhibit hours and a list of the vehicles on display. Pay attention to the car brands you want to see and note what other makers are nearby. You also should stop by the booths of a few other carmakers that you hadn't considered. This will help you plan the most efficient route along the show floors, which are often quite large and can be spread out among convention center halls.
We also recommend that you download the Edmunds app, available for both Apple and Android smartphones. It's an invaluable tool, whether you need to read an expert review on a car or you want to compare its manufacturer's suggested retail price with its actual average selling price in your area (assuming the car is already in dealer showrooms). You can even enter figures into a calculator to estimate your monthly payment.
Avoid the Crowds
An auto show's opening weekend draws the biggest crowds. If you show up then, you'll be squeezing your way through masses of people just to get a glimpse of a car. And if you manage to sit inside a car you're interested in, you'll probably be joined by other people who are also folding the seats up and down and pushing every button there is — not the most relaxed way to assess a car. If possible, try to go to the show on a weekday, preferably as soon as the doors open. But if you can only go on one of the busier days, make sure to show up as early as possible.
As you plan out your day, give yourself at least two hours to see everything. That way, you can proceed at your own pace and ask the carmakers' representatives as many questions as you need to.
An auto show allows you to compare the greatest number of cars in the shortest amount of time and distance. It is a much better use of your time than crisscrossing town to visit various dealerships. So don't just look at the car that interests you most. Be sure to check out its competitors, too. If you don't know the competitors, ask the representatives at the show. You should also take a look at our model reviews and road tests ahead of time. We always list a vehicle's competitors in our reviews. If you're short on time, the Edmunds app will come in handy: The model reviews are formatted for on-the-go reading.
Don't hesitate to put the car through its (stationary) paces. Sit in the front and backseats. Which vehicle is the most comfortable? Which is a good fit for the size of your family? Take a look at the buttons and dials on the instrument panel. Are they well-designed and intuitive? Pop the trunk and picture whether it could haul your average amount of cargo. These questions and their answers will help you determine if the car you're considering fits your needs. Take photos and notes of features you liked on each car to refresh your memory later.
This is also a chance to explore the new technology in the car. The carmaker representatives at the show can give you tutorials on anything from exploring the smartphone integration to inputting an address on the navigation system.
Talk to the Product Specialists
One of the best things about an auto show is the lack of sales pressure. Automakers often hire product specialists to be experts on the cars and answer any questions. This can be a tremendous help to you. The auto show reps have to be well schooled in the cars on display and since some of the new vehicles haven't yet hit the dealer showrooms, they're the ones who are up to date on the newest car features. Don't hesitate to ask them any questions you may have about the cars you're seeing.
You may also meet a "booth rep." These are local dealership salespeople who have been asked to staff the booth for a day. Although their day job is sales, they can't actually sell you any of the cars in the auto show, so there's little chance of getting a hard sell. They may offer you their business cards, however.
Interact and Participate
Some automakers will offer you small prizes, such as gift cards, to encourage you to participate in the tutorials and trivia contests or to encourage you to share your contact information. The activities are fun ways to learn about the car and potentially go home with a reward.
Many carmakers' booths are set up with interactive elements such as iPads or computer kiosks. These can provide more in-depth information, allow you to configure the vehicle with options or show you what the car looks like in another color.
Take a Test-Drive
Some auto shows have "ride and drive" events. These are a great opportunity to test-drive the cars you're considering without having to go to multiple dealerships. Not every auto show offers test-drives, nor will the drives include every vehicle on display. But there is no better research than taking a car for a spin yourself. Even if you only go for a ride-along, you can still get a feel for ride comfort, road noise and engine purr (or roar).
Steps to Take After the Show
By the end of your visit, you should have a better idea of which car you might want to buy. Jot down a few notes while the impressions are still fresh in your mind. Make a list of pros and cons for each vehicle to help you decide.
For more detailed pricing information, take a look at our new car section. If you want to start looking for your vehicle on dealer lots, our new car inventory tool can help. Finally, if you are a first-time new car buyer, we've also got you covered with a guide that walks you through the process.
Good luck, and happy hunting.
The trip to the finance and insurance office is an often-overlooked aspect of car buying, and it can be a source of stress and frustration. By the time you walk in, you may have already spent hours at the dealership, test-driving, negotiating and agreeing on a price. Once in the office, you'll probably spend 30 minutes listening as an F&I manager presents a number of products and services that you might not be familiar with. If you agree to buy any of them, you may drastically alter the monthly payment you'd settled on.
With some planning and knowledge of the products, however, you can enter the F&I office with confidence and perhaps shave minutes off the time you spend there. Here are some commonly asked questions about the F&I office and what's sold there.
What is it?
The finance and insurance office is where the dealership draws up sales contracts, where you arrange payment for the car and where you'll be offered additional products for purchase.
Why do I have to go there?
The sale of a new or used car is not official until it's in writing and you sign the contract. There are also several dealer-, city- or state-mandated legal forms that you have to sign to conclude the sale. And then you need to actually pay for the car.
The F&I manager takes the down payment and makes arrangements with the finance company to set up your payment plan. If you have been preapproved for a loan by your bank or credit union, the F&I manager will probably ask if he can try to beat the interest rate. Finally, this is where the dealership will offer you a variety of products that can be added into your loan.
Why can't the salesperson handle the paperwork?
Remember all the legal forms and paperwork we mentioned earlier? The F&I manager is one of the few people at the dealership who knows all the products being offered and is trained to know the forms that need to be signed. Some dealerships have done away with the traditional F&I process, but they are the exception .
How long will it take?
Your time in the office will depend on the time of day, the number of people ahead of you and whether you have your loan documents in order. Salespeople usually outnumber F&I managers, so on a busy weekend, you could face a bottleneck that can have you waiting a half-hour or so before you even walk into the F&I office.
Once inside, you can expect to spend about 30 to 45 minutes. But if you want to hear the pitch for each product and negotiate a better price for any of them, this will add to the total time. If you've been preapproved for a loan and say "no" to all the products you're being offered, you may be able to shave off some minutes. But then again, a determined F&I manager might work hard to counter your sales objections. That back-and-forth could take awhile.
Why should I prepare for the F&I office?
A survey of 150 top dealer groups showed that customers paid an average of $1,359 for F&I products in 2015, according to Automotive News . And though the argument might be that this would add only about $20 to $40 to your monthly payment, it still is a significant amount. Plus, you'll find that an F&I manager is often the dealer's best salesperson, given that F&I products have the highest profit margins for the dealership. With this in mind, it is important to know what to expect.
What will the F&I manager offer me?
Here are the products you'll likely encounter in the F&I office. We can't list every one or name the exact price; everything varies by dealer, region and vehicle. One thing to keep in mind: The price of nearly all these products is negotiable, so feel free to make a lower offer or ask for a discount.
Extended warranty: This is technically called an extended service contract. This warranty kicks in after your new-car limited warranty has expired. It is also one of the most expensive items the F&I manager will offer you. Prices can vary widely, depending on the vehicle, coverage and brand.
Not sure if you need the warranty? Ask yourself these questions to help you weigh the pros and cons. If you do choose to buy a warranty, you'll want to stick with the manufacturer's product and stay away from third-party warranties .
Bear in mind you can purchase an extended warranty any time until the new-car warranty expires, which can buy you some extra time to think about it and shop for a better price.
Maintenance plans: Plans such as these bundle oil changes and other scheduled maintenance into a package. This product will be positioned as a way to "lock in" your price now to hedge against rising labor costs in the future. Essentially, you'd only have to worry about your car payment for the duration of the maintenance plan. These plans may limit you to one dealership for service, so make sure you ask about that aspect before buying.
Anti-theft products: These products can range from a simple car alarm, a starter interrupt, VIN etching or a GPS locator. Some dealerships install these products on all their vehicles when they place them on the lot. They are often positioned as an enhancement to the factory security features. You're not obligated to buy them, so if you don't want to spend the money, ask to have the device removed or deactivated before you take possession of the car.
Road hazard and wheel warranties: This combo warranty covers the wheels and tires in the event of damage. If you often drive on roads with potholes or debris, or simply have bad luck with curbs, this warranty might be worth considering.
Paint & fabric protection: These products offer protection to both the inside and outside of your new car by adding a chemical sealant to the fabric or paint. Modern automotive paint has come a long way in terms of durability, but if you want the extra protection, make sure you research what it costs before heading into the dealership.
Gap insurance: This pays off any difference between what your new car is worth and what you would owe after an accident or theft. Many new-car leases include gap insurance already, but it is worth considering if you've put less than 10 percent down on a financed vehicle.
Excess wear and use protection: Primarily for leases, this coverage protects you in the event you return the vehicle with a few dents, scrapes or stains in the upholstery. It will not cover the vehicle in an accident, however. That's what car insurance is for. If you tend to be hard on your leased cars, this protection is worth considering.
Credit insurance or payment protection: These plans are designed to kick in if you lose your job, die or are unable to make your car payments for a certain period of time. This article goes more into detail about the coverages, but in general, consumer groups have found that the cost of this coverage tends to outweigh the benefits.
Are any of these items worth it?
It's hard to make a blanket statement on these products. People's needs and buying scenarios differ greatly. For example, do you really need gap insurance if you've made a sizable down payment on a car you are buying? Or if you take excellent care of your leased vehicle, why pay for excess wear protection?
As far as extended warranties go, a 2014 Consumer Reports survey found that 55 percent of owners who had bought an extended warranty hadn't used it for repairs during the life of the policy. Those who did use the coverage, however, were quite pleased with it. In other words, your general satisfaction with these products will likely depend on whether or how often you use them.
The truth is that people purchase many of these products more for peace of mind than their actual usefulness. So ask yourself if peace of mind is worth the price of the warranty.
An old car-buying "pro tip" goes something like this: Buy a new car in the late summer to early fall, when the current model year is winding down, and you'll get a great deal. But there are better bargains in store if you're willing to buy a model that's about to be discontinued or redesigned. We've put together a list of nine such cars and SUVs, based on the potential for a discount and their right-now availability. With these cars, you'll find that dealerships will be more flexible with price and manufacturers will provide generous incentives and rebates to attract bargain hunters.
A few things you should keep in mind: When automakers redesign a car, the outgoing model depreciates more quickly, and it might be more difficult for you to resell it. Similarly, if the carmaker discontinues a model because of slow sales, it may affect how many people are interested in it as a used car. However, if you're going to keep the car for a long time, depreciation has little effect on you. Keep in mind that since you are shopping at the end of the car-buying year, inventories may be low and color and options choices will be limited. In other words, if you want a great deal you can't be that picky.
Also keep in mind that offers, incentives and rebates are regional and have expiration dates. You will not only need to check to see what offers are available in your area, but also when they expire. Finally, keep an eye out for Edmunds Price Promise ® offers, which will give you a guaranteed, up-front price on a specific car. When you see the Price Promise "special offer" box on our site, enter your name, phone number and email address to immediately see the price.
2016 Buick LaCrosse (Redesign)
The all-new 2017 Buick LaCrosse will be hitting dealer lots soon, but there are still plenty of 2016 models on hand. The LaCrosse is a comfortable, entry-level full-size luxury sedan with a hybrid model and all-wheel drive as options. Edmunds data shows that the average price paid is below invoice and when you factor in the thousands of dollars off from incentives, it makes for an even more attractive package.
2016 Cadillac SRX (Replaced by XT5)
The Cadillac SRX isn't exactly going away. Instead, Cadillac is giving its luxury SUV a makeover and a new name: Cadillac XT5. There are still a fair number of SRX models left in the wild and we saw a few Price Promise offers of $8,000 off MSRP, once the incentives were factored in. Some of its more notable features are a classy interior and a comfortable ride.
2016 Chrysler 200 (Discontinued)
Despite giving the Chrysler 200 a full redesign in 2015, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has decided to discontinue this midsize sedan in favor of producing more Jeep and Ram vehicles. It's a shame too, because it seemed like the 200 was just hitting its stride. Edmunds editors gave the 2015 version a "B" rating, and with a few minor changes for 2016 this is still a solid car that can be had for roughly $3,000-$6,000 off MSRP.
2016 Dodge Dart (Discontinued)
The Dodge Dart also fell under Fiat Chrysler's car-cutting ax. But while the 200 was a solid pick, Edmunds editors weren't as fond of the Dart, giving it a "C" rating for the 2015 model year. This small sedan does have attractive styling and an excellent infotainment system, but its engines and a few refinement quirks kept it from being at the top of its class. But perhaps our editors' reservations aren't yours, and you just want an inexpensive car that looks good. With discounts ranging from $3,000-$4,000 off MSRP, the 2016 Dart can deliver on both of those fronts.
2016 Kia Cadenza (Redesign)
The Kia Cadenza, set for a redesign in 2017, is a bit of a dark horse among full-size sedans. It has an upscale interior, comes with plenty of standard features and has a five-year warranty. However, dealers didn't really have many in stock to begin with. As such, inventories might be limited. But if you can find one, you'll likely pay thousands below invoice once you factor in the incentives.
2016 Hyundai Genesis Sedan (Rebranded as Genesis G80)
If you want a midsize luxury sedan with many of the same features of the E-Class, but with a lower price tag, give the Genesis sedan a look — especially now. The price gap becomes even more pronounced with the savings on the 2016 Hyundai Genesis. We spotted Price Promise offers of $3,000-$5,500 off MSRP. An added bonus is that there won't be much difference in the 2017 version. Hyundai is creating its own luxury brand, Genesis Motors, and this model will carry over largely unchanged but with a new name: Genesis G80.
2016 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Sedan (Redesign)
Even luxury car shoppers can appreciate a bargain and the 2016 Mercedes-Benz E-Class delivers both on the car and the price. The E-Class sedan, set to be redesigned for the 2017 model year, has long been one of the go-to picks for midsize luxury sedans. The "A" rating our editors gave it in 2015 further solidifies its reputation. The coupe and wagon will remain unchanged for now. We spotted a number of Price Promise deals of $7,000- $10,000 off MSRP for the sedan. While E-Class sedan shoppers are more likely to lease than buy, a lower selling price usually translates to a better lease deal.
2016 Subaru Impreza Sedan (Redesign)
The Subaru Impreza sedan is scheduled for a 2017 redesign. In the meantime, Subaru will be encouraging its dealerships to clear out the remaining 2016 models of this spacious and reliable sedan with standard all-wheel drive. When it comes to potential savings, we should note that the Impreza has a small price window between the MSRP and the invoice price. There's not a ton of profit margin on this car to begin with, so the savings won't look as impressive as some of the other cars on this list. Expect to see offers around $900-$1,100 off, but that could change in the coming months if incentives are added.
2016 Toyota Highlander (Refresh)
The current Toyota Highlander, a comfortable and spacious crossover, is going out on a high note before getting a refresh in 2017. Our editors gave the 2016 model an "A" rating. We recommend looking at models with the smooth V6 engine, since it has more power and the same fuel economy as the four-cylinder version. There are plenty of Highlanders in stock. This means that for now, the savings may not be as substantial (roughly $2,000-$3,000 below MSRP). We recommend keeping a close eye on this crossover however, as prices are sure to fall in the coming months.
For months, there's been speculation over how Volkswagen would resolve claims it had been skirting federal emissions requirements in its diesel vehicles via software that tricks polluting-testing equipment. The guessing ended June 28 when the company reached settlements of nearly $15 billion with owners of 2.0-liter TDI vehicles and several government agencies that had brought suit, including the U.S. Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency.
The settlement includes more than $10 billion for vehicle buybacks, lease terminations and owner compensation. In addition, VW will pay $2.7 billion to support environmental programs to reduce polluting nitrogen oxides (NOx) in the atmosphere "by an amount equal to or greater than the combined NOx pollution" caused by VW's device-defeating cars, according to the settlement document. The company also must spend $2 billion to promote zero-emission vehicles "over and above any amount Volkswagen previously planned to spend on such technology."
The judge in the case gave preliminary approval to the settlement on July 26. A final approval hearing is set for Oct. 18, after which buybacks are expected to begin.
This FAQ presents some of the most important questions and answers that owners of VW and Audi vehicles may have about the settlement. It will be updated as more details become available. If you have a question that's not addressed here, let us know in the comments.
What's wrong with these cars?
A number of Volkswagen models that are equipped with the 2.0-liter diesel engine were programmed with software from the factory that allowed them to cheat on emissions tests. The car's emission control systems would appear to be fully functional while being tested, but on the road, the system would be disabled to improve performance. With the emission control system off, the vehicle emits higher levels of nitrogen oxide, up to 40 times above the legal limit.
What has Volkswagen offered as compensation?
In late June 2016, Volkswagen announced that it will either buy back or (if approved) repair cars affected by the recall. In both cases, the automaker will give owners an additional "restitution payment" to compensate owners for the diminished value of their vehicle.
Previously, Volkswagen offered a "Goodwill Package" to owners of 2.0L TDI vehicles affected by the emissions recall. It included a $500 Volkswagen Prepaid Visa Loyalty Card, a $500 Volkswagen Dealership Card and no-charge 24-hour Roadside Assistance for three years. That offer is no longer available.
Which cars are eligible for the buyback?
• 2010-2013, 2015 Audi A3 TDI
• 2013-2015 Volkswagen Beetle TDI
• 2013-2015 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible TDI
• 2010-2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI (2- and 4-door)
• 2015 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen TDI
• 2009-2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI
• 2009-2014 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen TDI
• 2012-2015 Volkswagen Passat TDI
How much can I expect?
According to court documents, the buyback value will be based on National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) "clean" trade-in value of the car, adjusted for options and an annual mileage of 12,500, as of September 2015, before the emissions cheating scandal became public.
Because cars often change hands, perhaps more so as a result of this issue, the restitution payment will vary, based on the time frame and ownership scenario. The court documents break out into these categories:
Eligible Owner: This means you are the registered owner of an affected vehicle and that you bought the car on or before September 18, 2015. If you decide to have Volkswagen buy back the car, you would get the buyback amount plus 20 percent of the vehicle's value and an additional $2,986.73. The minimum restitution you could get is $5,100.
If you purchased the vehicle after September 18, 2015 and decide to have Volkswagen buy back the car you would get the buyback amount plus 10 percent of the vehicle's value, an additional $1,493.37 and a proportional share of any restitution not claimed by the eligible seller. The minimum restitution you could get is $2,550.
Eligible Seller: This means you were the registered owner of an eligible vehicle on September 18, 2015, who then transferred vehicle title between September 18, 2015 and June 28, 2016. You would only be eligible for the restitution payment at 10 percent of the vehicle's value, plus $1,493.37. The minimum you could get is $2,550.
I leased my Volkswagen. Am I still eligible for a settlement payment?
Yes. If you leased the vehicle with Volkswagen Credit, Inc., you are in the category called "Eligible Lessee."
Current Lessee: If you are currently leasing an eligible model, you can terminate your lease with no penalty and receive a restitution payment of 10 percent of the vehicle value, plus $1,529.01.
Former Lessee: If you leased an eligible model and turned it in on or after September 18, 2015, you can still receive a restitution payment of 10 percent of the vehicle value, plus $1,529.01.
If you had leased the vehicle and decided to buy it after June 28, 2016, you would be eligible to receive a restitution payment of 10 percent of the vehicle value, plus $1,529.01.
This is too much math. Can I look up the value online?
Yes. You can now get an estimate of your vehicle by visiting VWCourtSettlement.com and clicking on "Value My Vehicle."
I've added a ton of miles since September 2015. How will this affect the value?
As long as you've driven the car fewer than 12,500 miles per year, the compensation amount will remain the same. If you drive fewer than 1,000 miles per month, there's a chance that the payment might actually increase, based on NADA mileage tables.
I'm still making payments on this car, how will the compensation handle this?
Your payment will be based on the following scenarios:
• If your outstanding loan balance is less than the vehicle's value plus owner restitution, Volkswagen will pay off your loan and pay you the difference.
• If your outstanding loan balance is between 100 percent and 130 percent of the vehicle value plus owner restitution, Volkswagen will pay off your loan in full.
I'm done with this car. When can I get my money?
Volkswagen will begin accepting claims after July 26. The earliest possible time for payment to begin is October 2016. Eligible sellers (people who bought an affected vehicle and sold it prior to this settlement) must identify themselves by September 16, 2016.
Buybacks will be scheduled in the order in which they are received, taking into account the volume of paperwork. The whole process should be completed within about 90 days.
I love my TDI. I just want to get it fixed and keep driving it. How does this work?
At this writing (July 26, 2016), there is no formally approved fix. Volkswagen is working with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to get a solution approved. There's a lot of red tape regarding the submission, testing and approval processes for a fix of this magnitude. Owners may not know whether their cars have an approved emissions modification until as late as May 1, 2018. Once approved by the EPA and CARB, the emissions modifications will be available to all eligible vehicle owners and lessees free of charge.
Owners who get their cars fixed and keep them are still eligible for the restitution payment, based on the applicable owner scenario.
If no emissions modification is approved by May 1, 2018, owners will still have an opportunity to choose the buyback option.
I heard the fix will affect performance and fuel economy. Is this true?
It is too early to tell. Since the emissions modification has not been formally approved, there's no way to tell how it will impact fuel economy or performance.
Is the buyback offer a good deal?
That's up to you to decide. Short of suing VW yourself and winning (not a sure thing by any means), this offer will likely be the best one you'll get. Given the trouncing the TDI's image and value has suffered, it's unlikely that a private-party buyer or a used-car dealer will pay you more than the settlement is offering. Your only other realistic option is to keep the car.
If I choose to keep my TDI, what happens to its future value?
The reputation and value of these cars has taken a hit. This is why Volkswagen is compensating owners for the diminished value. It's too early to say if the value of diesels that remain in owners' hands will slip further. "There is still too much uncertainty to project how the remaining diesels will retain value," says Joe Spina, director of remarketing for Edmunds.
Spina attributes the uncertainty to the lack of information regarding the proposed fix and whether it will affect car performance. In other words, if you want to keep the car, do so because you like it, not because you're hoping it will be worth something in the future.
I'll need some time to think about this. How long do I have to decide?
The Class Action Settlement Program will accept claims until September 1, 2018.
Can I opt out and sue Volkswagen on my own?
Yes. The buyback is not mandatory, but you should factor in the time, effort and money involved in pursuing a suit on your own. When all is said and done, you might not get as much as this settlement offers.
I've decided to take the offer. Are there any loyalty deals if I stick with Volkswagen or Audi?
We anticipate there will be, although none have yet been announced. Stay tuned.
I really liked my last TDI. Can I buy a newer one that complies with the regulations?
It doesn't appear that way at the moment. Volkswagen's diesels have taken a huge public relations hit from this scandal, and consequently, the company has made no mention of any plans regarding its TDI cars. Furthermore, Volkswagen is expected to invest $2 billion over the next 10 years in zero-emissions vehicle technology, which includes battery-electric vehicles, fuel-cell vehicles, and plug-in hybrid vehicles.
If I keep my car, do I have to get the fix?
The repair doesn't appear to be mandatory at the moment. In the future, however, the EPA may require repair as a prerequisite to renewing your registration. Here's how this could shake out:
In the following states, diesel vehicles are explicitly exempt from emissions testing:
• Washington (Diesels under 6,001 lbs. gross vehicle weight rating or model year 2007 and newer are exempt from testing)
A number of states do not have any vehicle emissions test programs. This means VW diesel owners who live there could conceivably keep driving the cars and not get a fix at all — unless the EPA could legally prevent unrepaired cars from being reregistered. If these cars are still on the road, of course, they would go on spewing NOx into the environment at up to 40 times above the legal limit. These states are:
• North Dakota
• South Carolina
• South Dakota
• West Virginia
Will my car pass smog inspection if I don't get it fixed?
At the moment, yes. The cheat software is still active and the car will appear to be compliant when it is tested. Once a fix has been found, however, the owner may need to verify that the emissions modification was completed.
What will Volkswagen do with the cars it buys back?
Volkswagen cannot resell the affected vehicles until it has an approved emissions modification for them. If no fix is found, the cars must be "responsibly recycled," meaning they will be salvaged for parts.
Why aren't the 3.0-liter diesel models included in the buyback?
Negotiations are being conducted separately for the V6 TDI engines that also were found to have test-cheat software. On July 13, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) rejected a recall plan that Volkswagen presented for these cars.
A VW spokeswoman told Edmunds that the company continues "to work closely with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and CARB to try to secure approval of a technical resolution for our 3.0L TDI vehicles as quickly as possible." The affected cars are:
2014-2016 Audi A6 Quattro
2014-2016 Audi A7 Quattro
2014-2016 Audi A8/A8L
2014-2016 Audi Q5
2009-2016 Audi Q7
2014-2016 Porsche Cayenne
2009-2016 Volkswagen Touareg
You've done a ton of online research and you know the car you want (and need) for carpooling, grocery shopping and weekend family fun. Now you're just about ready to head over to the dealership to test-drive — and possibly buy — that perfect car. Before you hand over your hard-earned money, we have 25 quick shopping tips to make family car-buying easier than you could have imagined.
Before Heading Out to the Dealership
1. Yes, it's exciting to be on the verge of buying a new car. But don't just rush off to the dealership expecting the vehicle you saw online will be in stock, ready for a test-drive and purchase. It might not be there, even if the dealership's website says it is. That's because online inventories can lag behind what's actually on the lot. Call the dealership first to make sure the vehicle is indeed still for sale.
2. Will you have your kids with you? If so, tell the salesperson when you plan to arrive, and ask him to have the car up front ready for a demonstration and test-drive. Some dealerships have massive inventory lots, and they are often off-site. You don't want to wait a half-hour to have the right vehicle pulled up from one of these lots, especially if you have bored kids in tow.
3. If your schedule allows, do your in-person shopping on a weekday. It's not as busy and you'll get more personal time with the vehicle to check out the features, from engine to infotainment system. When you're buying a car for the whole family to enjoy, it's worth taking extra time to look things over.
4. If possible, have the whole crew come along. You'll want them to try out the car in which they'll spend hours over the next few years. Maybe it's the one that will become their first car.
5. Remember to bring along your research, whether on paper or on your smartphone. And just in case you do buy that very day, remember to bring your driver's license, proof of insurance and approved car loan from your bank or credit union. (Pre-approval is a good idea. If the dealer can improve on the terms, so much the better.)
At the Dealership
6. Some people buy cars purely online, as though they were washing machines or refrigerators. They come to the dealership only to handle final paperwork and drive off. Don't be that shopper. Do check out the new car in person, even if it's a model you've owned before. Cars change, and the features in a previous car might not be the same in the new one. Have your salesperson give you a thorough demonstration and then take the family-mobile out for a test-drive. Put it through its paces. Make sure it's right for everyone, not just you.
7. Do a fit test. Check out the cargo area with seating positions set the way you'd expect them to be during daily driving. Will everybody fit? What about the dog? Is there room in the back to carry sports and school gear while all the kids are aboard?
8. While you're checking out your potential new family vehicle, consider what it will take to get your crew in and out, especially if you plan to move youngsters or grandparents. Not everybody can easily climb in the back of a tall SUV.
9. If you're buying a vehicle with three rows of seating, pay close attention to seating position of the second row, and how it affects the one behind it. That third row can be a challenge to get into, depending on how the seats are set up in the second row.
10. Speaking of the third row and its passengers, ensure that the last row has adequate ventilation. Do the rear occupants have control of their own temperature and airflow? If during the test-drive you hear reports of discomfort or claustrophobia, pay attention. Better to know now than in mile 100 of a road trip. This might also be a good time to check out how many rear USB ports the vehicle has. And don't forget to count the cupholders.
11. Know that your new car might not have a spare tire. Many vehicles come only with tire repair and inflator kits. (Carmakers do this to save space and weight.) If the car you've chosen doesn't have a spare tire, have a plan ahead of time for how you'll deal with a flat in the middle of nowhere. If that idea fills you with dread, consider buying a spare in the parts department. Ask your salesperson.
12. How easy is it to install a car seat? Bring yours along to confirm an easy and appropriate fit. Will you be using more than one car seat? Bring them both. When you're checking out the rear seats, be sure to check the LATCH attachments and positions.
13. If you're getting an SUV or minivan, take a moment to open the rear hatch and check the load height. When you're moving lots of heavy or bulky items — like a double stroller — having a lower load height can make life a lot easier on you and your back.
14. Sit in all seats, and have your family do the same thing. Make sure they have the features, comfort and adjustments you expect them to.
15. Once you've completely checked out the new car and you've decided to make it yours, tell your salesperson you want to finish your deal quickly — unless hanging out at the dealership is your thing. If you take our advice and shop on a weekday, a relatively fast wrap-up really is possible. On a Saturday afternoon, it could take a lot longer.
In the Finance Office
16. The finance and insurance office (F&I for short) is where you sign your purchase documents. This process can take a while. Don't go in with the expectation you'll be out of the office in 10 minutes. It rarely happens. Expect to spend about 30 minutes going over documents. Remember that this is your time, your money and your new ride. Don't be bashful about asking questions if some of the paperwork doesn't make sense to you.
17. The F&I office also is where you'll be offered add-ons to your purchase. The products you'll hear about include extended warranties, paint and fabric protection, theft deterrent or alarm systems and wheel or tire products. Think about your car ownership experiences and the car's built-in features and you'll have a good idea of whether these products will be worth your money.
18. If you're planning to drive your new family car until its wheels fall off, an extended warranty might be a good idea — if you get it at a good price. You can do some comparison shopping in advance, so you'll be better able to gauge the deal. And you can buy an extended warranty later, although if you intend to wrap its cost into your car loan, you'll need to do it on the day you buy. If you do decide you want an extended warranty, it's best to get one that is backed by the manufacturer of the car you're buying.
19. Some paint and fabric protection products that the finance manager offers may be worth considering. From my experience, these protection packages do a good job of resisting stains. Many of the companies warranty their products and will replace upholstery or leather if a stain manages to get through the barrier.
20. Before you wrap things up with the finance manager, ask to go over the paperwork one last time, just to make sure everything was done correctly. You don't want to be called back to the dealership because of a paperwork error. Believe me, it happens
After the Deal Is Done
21. Get a full explanation of the vehicle's options and features. Ask your salesperson to pair your Bluetooth phone to the new car if you don't know how. Also have him tell you how to use all the bells and whistles. These may include the entertainment and navigation systems and the safety features, such as blind-spot monitors, automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control, to name just a few.
22. Do a thorough walkaround of the car, looking for nicks and scratches. Sure, it's a family vehicle that is absolutely going to pick up a couple of dings and dents in the line of duty. But those first dings should come from you and yours, not the dealer's storage lot. If you're taking delivery after dark, find a well-lit place to inspect the car.
23. Make sure you get the owner's manual. Take a look at the quick-start guide that most of them have.
24. Be on the lookout for a dealership follow-up survey. You can expect to get one within a month of buying the car. The surveys are usually pretty easy to fill out.
25. Write a review for your salesperson and dealership on Edmunds.com. You rate restaurants and online stores, so why not a dealership? This is your opportunity to share your knowledge with other family-car shoppers. Between your savvy and these tips, we hope it will be a five-star experience.