Understanding buying terms and choosing SUV


I am wishing to buy luxury SUV but do not want to cross $35000 in total. I recently started learning buying process so still I am understanding terms. I always bought used cars, so not much aware of all calculations of new car. Before going to dealers and get more confused, I want to do some homework in choosing my new SUV (within my budget) and understand, how much I will have to pay out of my pocket (total money inclusive all).

With my initial step, I narrowed down few cars :-
Audi Q3
Acura RDX
Mercedes Benz GLA
Lexus NX200t (Being new on, I am not getting much comparisons/reviews on internet, but Lexus is reliable brand)

If I check manufacturer websites, they say this car starting at $xx,xxx. I am comparing price between their prices and price mentioned on truecar.com and it is confusing.
Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class - TrueCar Estimate 32734 and manufacturer websites says “starting from 33300”.
BMW X1 - TrueCar Estimate 30155 and manufacturer websites says “starting from 31200”.
While Acura RDX is opposite. Truecar.com says 39715 and manufacturer websites says “starting at 35095”.

I will appreciate comments, which can help me to narrow down on my choices (or any other car, I should add in comparison) and understanding pricing.


Truecar is usually very close to the bottom price you might be able to get. For the cars that you have the MSRP higher, that is normal. Also look at invoice prices on truecar. On the RDX I think you are looking at the one with tech package with increases the price. Are you sure you are comparing apples to apples? I am getting very close to MSRP on the RDX in my zip which means they are popular and you won’t get much of a discount on them.

Yes, you are right. I was choosing tech package. Now RDX is also coming in budget :slight_smile:
Now all above choices are almost close price matching (if I do not add optional packages). Is there anyone, I should rule out based on your experienced suggestion ? I would go to see them in showroom, but before going, I want to narrow down my choices. Am I going with correct way ?
BTW, I am in 90503

IMO, I would not BUY the BMW/MB or the Audi; as much as leasing is a bad financial decision, you might be better off just leasing those and only owning them while under warranty. I would pic the Acura for buying, but then test drive one and see if you like it. The Lexus is too new, just seen one and not sure who good they are. Given it is a Lexus, still is a much safer bet than the German Luxury brands.

Starting prices are just that and you will most likely never see one at a lot for that price. I looked at dealer near me and this is what I saw: Audi Q3 38575 to 42000 - Acura RDX 37415 to 41000 - Mercedes GLA 35955 to 42000 - BMW X1 35100 to 47700 . Also if the word budget is in your search non of the vehicles on your list are candidates. They all have high service costs and high insurance.

GALANT, I am looking to keep a car for next 4 years. After that I may sell it. Few of my friends were suggesting me to lease vehicle, but I calculated, I may pay for 3 years and I will have 20-25k car in hand end of the day. So, as per you real options should be between Acura RDX and Nexus NX200t ? Along with this, I will also look, how car gives a good resale value, so that I can sell it quickly.

VOLVO V70, when you say that service costs and insurance are high, will it be high during warranty time (4 years) also ? I was assuming that during non-problematic time (during warranty time), I will have pay for oil change and usual services, which should not be very high. Am I wrong here ?
Just for reference, I was paying 80$ per month in insurance for 2009 Camry. For these luxury class SUV, how much usually people pay ?

You can ask your insurance agent for estimates on any vehicle you might consider. Some of the luxury vehicles have oil changes included for a short period of time but if it doesn’t you could be looking at $75 or more.

The main complaints that I’ve found so far about the Lexus NX and the Acura RDX is that they can feel small inside, particularly in the back. The Lexus is based on the Rav4 and the Acura shares a platform with the Honda CRV so you’re looking at compact suv’s. Both should have fairly good resale values after 3-4yrs which is not always the case with the European brands.

Check the websites of the local dealers for what they actually have in stock. The starting price on the website is just that. Use the Build & Price feature to see what the MSRP actually is for the options you want. That will give you a comparison when you look on Truecar or Edmunds.com

All the dealers have an Internet Sales Department now and more than likely you will get the best price going through them.

Not sure about the insurance but you could get quotes from your insurer to find out how much of a difference compared to the Camry.

This is probably a rude statement but if you are paying for your auto insurance monthly you are paying extra for that privilege . That makes me think you do not have a reserve account for emergencies. I would really hate to see you or anyone buy a vehicle at the top of their budget .

VOLVO, That was for reference about, how much per month insurance I am paying. Otherwise, I always pay for 6 months, I am ready to pay 700-800 per month. But it will be helpful for me to decide, if I know expenses well in advance.

WOLYROBB, I tried building package on manufacturer website. I am assuming that final price will be negotiated. Am I correct ?
I will rule out Merc/BMW/Audi out of my equation, as you and others suggested.

You are correct.
The manufacturer’s website prices are what’s called “Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price” (MSRP for short). You negotiate downward from there.

Be aware that while the Truecar estimate is a good reference, it has absolutely no connection with the manufacturer or the seller. It’s simply a private third party accumulating actual sales price data based on their sources. Because Truecar says the average private paid for a particular car is $XX,000 does not mean a dealer will sell it to you for that price. You can (and should) use it as a negotiating tool if it’s to your advantage, but it carries no obligation.

Also be aware of “packs”, which are dealer-added things that they charge you a bundle for but aren’t really necessary. Things like undercoating, dealer-installed paint protection, extended warrantys, and junk like that. Ther are numerous ways they try to get your money. I would add carpet mats to that list too, since the dealers usually charge hundreds and you can get better mats from aftermarket sources for less. Often a lot less.

And be sure the contract includes the final “delivered” price. That will include all fees etc. Prep fees are often tacked on after the price is negotiated and they can add hundreds in some cases. You need to know in writing exactly how much you’ll be paying.

It’s hard negotiating for a new vehicle. The salespeople are trained in the use of tricky language to make it sound like they’re giving you a sweet deal while at the same time taking your every penny. Bringing a knowledgeable and trusted friend always helps, 'cause two heads are always better than one. He/she might catch something that you missed.

Remember: you can always walk away, think about it, and go back. Salespeople are trained in “closing” tactics, in getting you to sign, but in reality you’re holding all the aces.

AS far as insurance, I always get quotes before buying a car. Things never make sense and vary from insurer to insurer. My brand new 2011 CRV was cheaper to insure than the 2000 Caravan or the 2005 Camry, this was in 2011.

As far as service, just call different dealerships and tell them “I am bringing in my 2015 XX car for the 15K miles service” and get a quote. Not that I would get a blank “15K service” but that would give you an idea. I have friends who lease these high end cars and I know paying $400 for an “oil change” is the norm, not that they would know what was done, it is just the way it goes I guess if you have the money.

I have done the math, and if you lease something with good resale value (hence, lower lease payments), buying the car only makes sense if you keep it for more than 6 years. But, I am also in CA where we have a 10% sales tax, so that would automatically add ~$3500 to the purchase price of the car you are looking to buy.

To me it seems you are budget minded and I suggest looking into a 2-3 year old Lexus RX 350; it would be roomier with a better ride and comfort and some depreciation is absorbed by the 1st owner. I don’t think it would be difficult to make it last for another 5 years without major repairs.

If I lease car, still I will need to pay down amount of 3000 or 4000. But I will calculate, what maths come out of it. May be if I can swap lease from somebody, that amount will be forgiven. Including your option, I have few options to compare and read more about them, for 4 years -->
1- Lease new Lexus/Acura or any other. (I will be car-less after 3 years and will have nothing in hand. If I stay another year, will need to again take another car)
2- Buy 2 years old RX350/RDX. (Need to search hard to get good price on used car)
3- swap somebody’s lease. (If 2 years are pending on that, I will need to buy that car after 2 year or have to look some other option).

I will do some math to calculate plus and minuses or if you have already done it, I will appreciate if you share it :slight_smile:

Find a car on line that you would be willing to buy if the test drive is successful and copy down the VIN. Then call your insurer and give them the VIN. They will tell you exactly how much the SUV will cost to insure.

Be sure to tell the salesman (or saleswoman) up front you only have so much cash to work with. And to not bother showing you deals that would result in you having to come up with add’l cash beyond what you told him. I might be inclined to put this is writing and give it to him, then if he does propose a deal that exceeds this amount, you can point out that you already told him very clearly you’d nix any deal like that.

@GeorgeSanJose That is a double-edged sword

That will ensure the dealer gets the entire amount that OP mentioned. Believe me, they will get every single penny

If they know he has $35000 to spend, they’re going to shake him up for $35000. You can forget getting the car for $33500. It’s going to cost OP $35000

They might sell him that $37000 for $35000, because they think they have a bird in the hand. But maybe not

Any information the dealer has, will be used against you, financially, anyways

Yes, you may be correct.

George telling the salesman how much you have to spend is as bad as telling them how much of a payment you can afford.

I was helping a friend find a car some years back, and we walked into a used car dealership with no prices on the windows. “Smiling Sam” came strutting out of his little house and said “what can I do for ya?”. I asked “how come there are no prices on your cars?”. His answer was “tell me how much you have to spend and I’ll show you what I have for you.”. We left laughing. It truly was funny. If we’d said “$25,000” he probably would have tried to sell us a $15,000 car… for $25,000.

I believe the absolute last thing any salesman should know is how much you have to spend.

I was asked once how much do I want to spend, I said $400. The salesman said we have a lot of cars for $400 per month and I said, I only have one payment worth of money.