It’s hard to miss a new vehicle’s starting price when it’s plastered all over advertisements and on the automaker’s website. It should come as no surprise that it serves as a point of reference among shoppers to gauge a car’s affordability relative to the alternatives. But this highly visible (and often heavily promoted) price may not be an accurate representation of a vehicle’s true price. A starting price usually references a car’s base model, excluding available features, options and fees, making it a poor benchmark in some cases.
An analysis of the most affordable cars, SUVs and pickup trucks reveals that the starting prices for some vehicle types better reflect the prices shoppers pay; others are far from it. Knowing how the advertised starting price for new vehicles compares to the median posted price among Cars.com dealers can make it easier for budget-conscious shoppers to narrow down and compare their options.
It’s worth noting that all Cars.com articles and reviews include the vehicle’s destination charge in the starting price. This fee, which has risen steeply in recent years, usually falls between $1,000-$2,000, and it’s typically excluded from the advertised starting price. Other additional fees excluded from the starting price are title and license fees, and dealer documentation fees.