This has been a tough year to buy a new or used car in America. With COVID-19 factory shutdowns, semiconductor chip shortages, rising prices and supply chain issues, it's been nothing but bad news for car shoppers. And for those who've waited, hoping Black Friday sales would bring some reprieve from high prices, we're afraid that there aren't many bargains to speak of.
In ordinary times, Black Friday would be a busy yet fruitful time to shop for a new car because dealerships are motivated to discount outgoing models to make room for the newest model year. However, Edmunds data shows that overall new car inventory levels are down 77% compared to 2019, when the market was more typical.
"The microchip shortage has forced inventory far below demand and vehicles are selling quicker than ever before," said Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds' executive director of insights. "In fact, many dealers are selling vehicles that haven't even arrived on their lots yet."
Vehicles that are left tend to be in a more expensive trim or are saddled with dealer-added accessories that further boost the vehicle's cost. Couple that with the buying public's continuing shift from sedans to higher-priced SUVs and trucks, and it should come as no surprise that the average new car transaction price hit a record high of $45,598 in October, according to Edmunds data.
Not only will buyers have to contend with fewer cars, but they are also not as likely to get much of a discount. In fact, 39% of shoppers in October paid over the manufacturer's suggested retail price, while 35% of shoppers were given a discount of less than $500, according to Edmunds.
We do have some good news, though. Edmunds has combed through the latest transaction data to find five new vehicles with relatively high discounts and above-average inventory to make your search easier. We've organized them in order of percentage off the MSRP. Keep in mind that exact inventory figures are difficult to pinpoint these days, so you may not find all these vehicles at your local dealership.
SMALL LUXURY SUV: 2021 VOLVO XC60
Average MSRP: $56,286; average transaction price: $52,886; average discount: $3,401 (-6%)
What Edmunds' editors say about the XC60: "If you're looking for a well-rounded luxury SUV, the Volvo XC60 should be one of the first to check out. It's available with a variety of powertrains to suit your power or fuel efficiency needs, it's spacious enough for adults and their luggage, and it's got all the standard and optional equipment you'd expect in an upscale vehicle. Unfortunately for the Volvo, it isn't the sportiest SUV in its segment, nor is it the quietest."
SMALL SUV: 2021 JEEP COMPASS
Average MSRP: $30,822; average transaction price: $29,057; average discount: $1,765 (-5.7%)
What Edmunds' editors say about the Compass: "For enthusiasts who like getting dirty, exploring the less worn path is a genuinely enjoyable thing to do. They will happily tolerate the Trailhawk's on-road sluggishness in exchange for its surprising capability off-road. While most crossovers will reside in suburbia, Jeep infused the Compass with the right look and feel to keep drivers smiling."
SMALL LUXURY SUV: 2021 LINCOLN CORSAIR
Average MSRP: $45,157; average transaction price: $44,082; average discount: $1,075 (-2.4%)
What Edmunds' editors say about the Corsair: "The Corsair replaces the unloved MKC, and its swath of improvements makes it easy to see why Lincoln abandoned the name. The Corsair is much more competitive against rivals than the MKC ever was, but some aspects don't live up to luxury-class standards."
EXTRA-SMALL LUXURY SUV: 2021 BUICK ENCORE GX
Average MSRP: $29,802; average transaction price: $29,808; average discount: $704 (-2.4%)
What Edmunds' editors say about the Encore GX: "The Encore GX is at the larger and more luxurious end of the extra-small SUV segment. It comes with a wealth of available technology and safety features as well as a more upscale interior than most other rival SUVs. Its larger-than-average size provides benefits in interior and cargo space. That said, you do pay a price for these qualities since the Encore GX is expensive relative to its primary competition."
EXTRA-SMALL LUXURY SUV: 2021 BMW X1
Average MSRP: $41,492; average transaction price: $40,736; average discount: $755 (-1.8%)
What Edmunds' editors say about the X1: "The X1 is a quintessential BMW SUV just in a smaller package. It provides excellent cargo space and passenger accommodations along with a fun-to-drive demeanor. But if you value a cushier ride, a more fashionable interior or cutting-edge tech, you'll likely want to consider other strong options in this class."
EDMUNDS SAYS: If you need to get into a new vehicle this year and see one you like, it's best to take the plunge and make the purchase sooner rather than later. Otherwise, you might end up empty-handed because plenty of other shoppers will likely be jockeying for the same vehicle.
This story was provided to The Associated Press by the automotive website Edmunds. Ronald Montoya is a senior consumer advice editor at Edmunds. Twitter.