Over the past two years, every established rule of car shopping failed. Inventory shortages meant everything your parents taught you, from negotiating to valuing your trade-in, fell apart. Car shoppers were left overpaying and thankful for the opportunity to buy anything at all.
The headlines refer to the industry average (we know, we write them), but there are always a few outliers defying the norm.
In 2023, the headlines are about new car shortages. But a handful of automakers are still oversupplied with some cars. In some cases, they’re cars you might not have heard of or considered.
But the quality of the average new car has been improving for most of a decade. While studies like JD Power’s Initial Vehicle Quality Study took a dip during the microchip shortage of the last year, most people don’t car shop every year. The odds are still good that almost every car you could buy today is built to a higher standard than cars were the last time you went shopping.
You find a great deal by looking a little beyond the usual suspects. To find one, you need to know one industry rule of thumb.
Car dealers measure their supply of new cars in a measure they call “days of inventory” – how long it would take to sell out of each model at today’s sales rate if they never acquired more. An old industry guideline tells dealers to keep about a 60-day supply of each model.
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That’s enough, the rule says, to ensure they probably have the combination of colors and options you want in stock.
During the depths of the microchip crisis, some models fell to single-digit days of inventory.
Others, though, never got close.
Here are five cars dealers still have way too many of and why they’re worth a look.
1. Alfa Romeo Giulia – 146 days’ supply
The Alfa Romeo Giulia sport sedan may be the car world’s best-kept secret. It’s flat-out gorgeous and rare enough to attract looks in a parking lot full of BMWs and Lexus cars. It has luxury car panache, but the entry-level model still costs less than last month’s average new car. And the extraordinary Quadrifoglio model uses a Ferrari-derived V6 to put out one of the sexiest exhaust notes ever heard in a compact sedan.
Yet Alfa Romeo dealers have more than twice as many in stock as they’d like to. This is the time to make them an offer.
Consider it instead of: It’s a more exciting alternative to the BMW 3 Series
or Audi A4.
Discount: Last month, the average Giulia sold for $3,316 below invoice.
Read: Buying a car from the factory sounds expensive, but it can actually save you money. Here’s how to do it.
2. Alfa Romeo Stelvio – 136 days’ supply
More Americans buy SUVs these days than sedans. But the other Alfa Romeo product has them covered. The Alfa Romeo Stelvio is one of the sportiest SUVs on the market, with the same head-turning Italian good looks.
Its near 50/50 weight distribution is absurd in an SUV, making it one of the best-handling crossovers on the market. It can hold its own against better-known models in the twisty stuff, and the 505-horsepower Quadrifoglio model gets from 0 to 60 in 3.6 seconds.
See: 5 high-performance SUVs to spice up your life
Yet dealers are sitting on more than double the regular supply. They’re listening to reasonable offers.
Consider it instead of: In a parking lot full of BMW X3 and Porsche
Macan SUVs, it’s the exotic option.
Discount: Last month, the average Stelvio sold for $3,988 below invoice.
Don’t miss: This is now the cheapest new car in America, and one of a vanishing species
3. Jeep Grand Wagoneer – 122 days’ supply
Jeep has spent the last year trying to convince Americans that it can build a luxurious full-size SUV to rival offerings from pure luxury automakers.
It shouldn’t be necessary. The Jeep Grand Wagoneer has one of the most sumptuous interiors anywhere. It’s overflowing with technology — seven total screens fall just a little short of claiming the record for most screen space in a new vehicle. But it’s all tastefully arranged. Designers might be struggling to convince Americans to spend up to six figures on a Jeep, but more shoppers would take the plunge if they sat inside.
And by the standards of enormous, torquey SUVs, it’s affordable to drive. Jeep got 510 hp out of a turbocharged V6, giving the Grand Wagoneer a 20 mpg rating on the highway.
Consider it instead of: The Grand Wagoneer is an excellent alternative to the Cadillac Escalade ESV or even full-size European haulers like the BMW X7.
Discount: Last month, the average Grand Wagoneer sold for $3,085 below invoice.
Check out: The cars, trucks and SUVs with the best resale value
4. Jeep Gladiator – 103 days’ supply
The funky Jeep Gladiator is the most interesting midsize truck on the market. It’s essentially a Jeep Wrangler with a 5-foot truck bed attached — but imagine the versatility that gives you. Gladiator drivers have pickup truck hauling capability, Wrangler off-road chops, and the only pickup truck in America where you can lower the top on a gorgeous day.
Strangely, Jeep dealers can barely keep 35 days’ worth of Wrangler models in stock but have more than three times that figure when it comes to the Gladiator.
Gladiators range from $38,775 into the mid-$50,000 range — competitive prices for a pickup or an off-roader. And every Gladiator is both.
Consider it instead of: The Gladiator could be either a more interesting midsize truck than the Toyota
Tacoma or a more versatile off-roader than the Wrangler.
Discount: Last month, Jeep dealers sold the average Gladiator for just $852 below invoice. But this month, they’re offering cash incentives in some cities — something almost unheard of the previous year.
5. Infiniti QX80 – 77 days’ supply
The Infiniti QX80 is one of the most affordable choices in the full-size luxury SUV class, with a starting price of $72,700. It’s a genuine hard worker, with pickup-truck-style body-on-frame construction and a 400-hp V8. But it’s luxurious, too, with semi-aniline leather upholstery and an available 17-speaker Bose Performance Audio system.
What keeps the QX80 selling slowly? It’s an older platform, unchanged since 2011. But, while some luxury car shoppers want the latest thing, others appreciate the value of proven performance. A decade’s worth of experience isn’t considered a drawback to every buyer.
Consider it instead of: The QX80 makes a brawny but classy alternative to the Lexus LX and Lincoln Navigator.
Discount: Last month, the average QX80 sold for $1,786 below MSRP.
This story originally ran on Autotrader.com.
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