New automobiles are generally poor investments for a number of reasons. That’s a topic for another post. Some people don’t want the hassle of buying a used car, or prefer the features of a new model. If you’re going to buy a new car, how much should you pay?
There’s some great advice to be found in this AskMetafilter thread, including the obvious “check with Consumer Reports“. When we bought my wife’s Civic a decade ago, we paid about $20 for pricing information from Consumer Reports. We then faxed a form letter to about twenty dealers in the Portland/Salem/Vancouver area. In the letter we described the exact make, model, and options we were looking for and listed what we believed was the invoice cost for these. We received about ten responses. Most of the dealers wanted us to come in to negotiate. We wouldn’t. Instead, we dealt with the three dealers that were willing to operate on our terms. We didn’t play them off each other (though that’s an option), but went with the dealer who was most accommodating.
For a similar but more detailed experience, check out this response in the afore-menteioned thread. It’s fantastic. It can save you thousands of dollars and a whole lot of hassle when buying a new car.
You may also want to check out Autobytel, which is a web-based method to connect with dealers in your area. I haven’t explored Autobytel in several years, but at one time it was a great way to shop for cars. (I have a close friend who is a car salesman. He hates Autobytel out of principle. That should tell you something.)