There’s no better feeling than getting offroad for the first time in a brand-new 4×4. It’s like being a kid in a candy store as you ease it onto the trail and see what it can really do. However, that feeling is even better if you know that you got a spectacular deal when you bought it.
Obviously, when you go to buy your new 4×4, you’re not expecting to pay list price. However, knowing what is a good deal and what isn’t can be difficult. Sales prices vary from dealer to dealer – each one will have their own bottom line – and can also vary depending on where you live in the country. One good way of figuring out how much you should pay is to see what others have paid for the same vehicle in your area. You can find sites like True Car in the news that will give you the spread of actual prices paid, and then point you to the best local dealers.
Another potential way of saving money is to buy a demonstrator. These are typically very low mileage vehicles that have been used primarily for test drives at the dealer’s lot. The savings on these can be substantial, but you do need to be careful. Getting $4000 off the list price may look great, but before you sign on the dotted line, make sure that you couldn’t get the same deal on a brand-new 4×4. Keep in mind that the spread between MRSP and factory invoice can be $7000 or more on a high-end 4×4, so there’s plenty of room to bargain. Instead of a demonstrator, you might also think about waiting until the new model year is about to hit the showrooms – there are some great bargains to be found on the previous year’s models around this time.
Another thing you may want to consider is leasing your next 4×4, rather than buying it. Generally, monthly lease payments are less than when you buy, so you’ll either spend less or be able to get a better vehicle for your money. However, there are a few catches. First of all, you may have to come up with an upfront payment, which can be as much as 20% of the cost of the vehicle. Second, at the end of the lease, you won’t own your 4×4, and will have to return it. Some agreements do allow you to buy out the vehicle at the end of the lease, so you should be clear up front exactly how much this will be. Third, there is likely to be an annual mileage cap, which is typically 10,000 to 15,000 miles. If you plan on driving more than this, the excess charge is normally around 15 cents a mile. Finally, if you’re planning on doing some serious offroading, you should keep in mind that you will probably be responsible for any damage.
Whatever approach you use to drive down costs, keep in mind that you need to go in with a very firm idea of what you need. It’s all too easy to be talked into something that you don’t really want because the price is fantastic. Just remember, buying a 4×4 that you don’t like is no bargain at any price.