We Asked You To Send In Dealer Markups, And You Delivered — Can You Spot A Trend?

Dealer markups are prevalent, but of course we all know the one car that's pure unobtainium right now, don't we?

2021 Ford Bronco
Even if you manage to find a brand new Ford Bronco at all, odds are you’ll pay tens of thousands above MSRP for the privilege of actually owning it. (Image: TFLcar)

This round’s dealer markups are even higher than last week!

Like last time, though, I will get to some dealers that aren’t marking up, even in the face of an insane new car market. Thanks to rebounding demand colliding with frustratingly long supply shortages, dealer markups are fairly common across several brands right now, with one particular theme cropping up, at least among the emails you’ve sent us.

We decided to put out this series to try and help you guys find business with franchises that, ideally, don’t engage in the consumer-dreaded dealer markups. That said, evidence shows it’s a pretty strong seller’s market right now, and if you want some of the latest and greatest models, you’ll pretty much have to pony up more cash (or secure a bigger loan) no matter where you go.

As I said last week, we’re not saying dealer markups as a practice is illegal in itself, nor suggesting it should be. Manufacturers also are not responsible for the practice, as they do not control vehicle prices at the dealer level. Some of you have also commented or reached out to elaborate on the current market and why markups are necessary on the dealer’s side.

As a consumer, though, you have the right to walk away from any deal you don’t agree with. Some businesses are taking another approach, generating good will in refusing to mark up their vehicles. On that side of the token, you guys have also pointed out some great deals you’ve managed to score, even as prices continue to creep — or skyrocket, in the Bronco’s case — ever higher.

Bronco dealer markups — over $100K
According to the reader who sent this in, this Bronco actually sold at $110,080. (Image: Gaspar I.)

One common thread — Broncos near or over $100K

There’s no sense in postponing the painful part here: You’ll face the toughest dealer markups trying to buy a new Ford Bronco right now. I led with that car in last week’s “Dealer or Stealer” post, as it’s the poster child for the practice right now. It’s a hot new model, Ford can’t crank them out fast enough to meet the explosive demand, and some dealers are bringing that point home with high dealer markups that render “MSRP” almost meaningless.

For reference, Ford’s goalpost on the 2022 Ford Bronco is $30,795. That’s the starting price for a base two-door model without any options. Of course, those are practically nonexistent as dealers definitely aren’t ordering those. It’s long been the case, even in normal times, that you’ll have to special order and be patient if you want the “cheap” version of any new or popular model. So let’s take a look at a two-door Bronco Outer Banks. That sits near the middle of the lineup, at $40,850 before options.

This particular example at Sames Ford in Corpus Christi, Texas has a couple choice addons that inflate its price. For starters, it packs $7,640 in options, from gray and navy vinyl/leather-trimmed seats to a heavier duty modular front bumper and a 4.27 locking rear axle, according to its official window sticker. That same window sticker says the car’s MSRP is $48,185 ($49,680 including destination).

Then we look at Sames’ sticker, which lists the MSRP as $50,675. They add a $5,995 addendum to include nitrogen-filed tires, wheel locks and an “environmental package”, to the tune of $5,995. Then, there’s the kicker, where the last of the dealer markups comes in, adding another $25,000 to the price. All-in? Per this sticker, they’re asking $81,670 — a 64% increase from Ford’s own MSRP.

A few of you sent in this sticker that’s making the rounds among Bronco enthusiast, with some of the highest markup we’ve seen on a Bronco yet.

That’s far from the highest markup, either. We’ve gotten stickers from Huntington Beach Ford in California (shown above) and Seth Wadley Ford in Oklahoma — each showing Broncos over $100,000. Several of you sent in the Seth Wadley example, a First Edition model, with a $72,285 markup. That puts the price up to $135,000 — more than double the car’s $62,715 MSRP.

Granted, the First Edition is a limited-run model, but would you pay over double its suggested retail price? In several cases with the Bronco, dealers will not advertise their asking price on their website, so you’ll have to contact them to get details. Others, like Jerry’s Ford in Leesburg, Virginia are more up front about the $133,073 “Got It” price.

What’s with the dealer installed packages?

The Sames example and several others you guys sent in show another crucial item you’ll have to watch out for: dealer-installed packages. Nitrogen-filled tires, wheel locks and some sort of paint protection package are commonplace, and usually tack a fair bit onto the price. You’d likely pay upwards of a few hundred dollars for those services individually, but $5,995? What’s tougher for value-focused customers as well is that, in some cases, you can’t opt out of that package.

Another example: A viewer sent in a 2021 Honda Ridgeline from Westshore Honda in Tampa, Florida. The package offered quite a few pieces for $2,195 extra, but that’s still an extra 5% on top of the truck’s $45,195 MSRP. Then there’s the $24,995 markup (yes that’s on a Ridgeline).

A viewer also sent in a sticker from this 2022 Nissan Pathfinder at AutoNation Nissan in Chandler, Arizona. We’re not dealing with the dealer markups (i.e. “market adjustments”) seen above — AutoNation, from what we can tell, has a network-wide policy against that. However, this sticker points out higher-than-normal prices for accessories, so you’re still facing some markup on that front here. The hood protection film, for example has a $135 MSRP per Nissan, yet the dealer is advertising it for $399.

At $46,894, you may not see the total buy-in for this $44,500 Pathfinder as egregious markup, but it still pays to watch out for above-retail prices on accessories, as those can add up quickly as well.

A TFL viewer managed to get nearly $6,000 off a fully-loaded Toyota Avalon Hybrid.

Again, some of you still managed to find some deals!

Last week, we covered two Toyota dealers that seemed to avoid charging over MSRP, by and large. Asim sent in his story a few days ago, where he managed to land a stellar deal on a new Toyota Avalon Hybrid. Now, that car is obviously not in high demand like the Bronco. That said, you can still have a hard time finding any car with a significant discount these days, and Toyota tends to steer clear of huge incentives. So, the fact that he managed, by his account, to land a fully-loaded, $46,000 Avalon Hybrid Limited for $5,800 off — bringing the take-home price to $40,000 — from Checkered Flag Toyota in Virginia Beach, Virginia is remarkable. Even if you’re not a huge sedan fan, that is still a lot of car for the cash.

Kyle sent in his deal story, having bought a new Mini Cooper SE. His email reads:

“Was just watching the new video about MSRP and markups. We were looking for a Mini Cooper SE and were lucky enough to find one in stock at Century Mini in Greenville SC. They sold it to us for MSRP, no games or markups at all.

[It] Was an awesome experience. Did a road trip 500+ miles back to Orlando from SC much like Tommy and Roman did when you guys picked up yours. Appreciate all the great content!”

Keep sending in your stories!

As always, a huge thank you from our team to you guys for sending in your dealer markups and deal-making stories. There’s a ton of engagement from you guys out there in the new car market, so please keep sending us your stories! Car-related markups and buying experiences go to info@tflcar.com, while truck experiences can go to ask@tfltruck.com.

We will be posting another update video soon, so stay tuned!