As Jalopnik’s resident car-buying expert and a professional car shopper, I get emails. Lots of emails. I’ve picked a few of your questions and will try to help out. This week we are discussing the best kind of car to buy in a market where everything seems overpriced and a conundrum regarding an uncomfortable Subaru.
First up, are there some cars that still have “deals” in this difficult market?
“I need a reliable car and would prefer to buy something new. I’m not really set on one brand or another but I would prefer something like a Honda or Toyota crossover. However, every time I contact a dealer on a car that I like, it’s either sold or they want full MSRP. Are there other models I should be looking at?”
If you are looking to find a “deal” you want to shift your focus to cars that don’t have as much demand. This is the time for a sedan. I know that is not what you are going for, but the crossover segment is arguably the hottest selling body style at the moment, so if you don’t want to pay full price, the sedan market is where the discounts are. Also, you may want to be open to brands that aren’t as “popular.” Everyone knows Honda and Toyota make good cars, but there are some solid alternatives from the Korean and American automakers that may be more likely to have some discounts available. I’ve seen new Hyundai Elantras with $4,000 – $5,000 in discounts and rebates available. If you wanted something a bit fancier Alfa Romeo Giulias are being advertised up to $10,000 off MSRP.
I know most people prefer the higher seating position and the “all-weather” capability of a crossover, but you can get AWD in some sedans and this could be an opportunity to drive something “different” for a few years until the market cools off.
Next up, how difficult will it be to trade in a very recently purchased car?
“BIG MISTAKE: We bought a 2021 Outback Touring XT, White (5400 miles now) and want to get out of it. We’re used to an SUV height and we’d rather drive our 2012 Highlander Limited than the Outback but want a vehicle with modern safety equipment.
WE WANT: A 2021 Highlander Limited, Blizzard White. We’ve been driving Highlanders for ages and we love them.
WE WANT TO TRADE BOTH: The Outback and the Highlander.
WHAT TO DO?: It’s more of a seller’s market now but used prices are up. Should we wait until fall or into 2022 to get a new Highlander or do it now? My wife has a bad hip and it is hard for her to get in and out of the Subaru – not the Highlander.
WHEN: It can be right away or we can wait. I realize we’ll take a considerable hit on the Outback, but don’t know if sooner or later would be smarter dollar-wise – or how much dollar-wise. What do you suggest?”
Usually, it’s never wise to try to trade a car in soon after you bought it, but the good news is that, because the used car market is in such high demand and you bought a Subaru, your hit should be minimal if you do trade. I would suggest getting offers from Carvana, Vroom, and Carmax on the Outback to see where you stand in terms of value versus loan balance.
In regards to timing, the downside of potentially getting top dollar for your Subaru is that finding a deal on a new Highlander will be a challenge. However, the market isn’t predicted to correct anytime within the next few months and if your wife is uncomfortable in the Outback delaying that purchase until well into 2022 to potentially save some more money probably isn’t the best plan.
Got a car buying conundrum that you need some assistance with? Email me at [email protected]!