Commentary & Voices
Memorial Day Weekend is Here. Are There Any Good Auto Deals Out There?
Thursday May 26, 2022
With the long Memorial Day Weekend upon us, we’re back to the age-old question: Are there any good deals out there?
Honestly, it’ll be tough for vehicle shoppers to find a hot deal this weekend. We are not in “the before times,” when inventory was plentiful and so were the incentives. In today’s auto market, in many cases, buying at the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP, often called “sticker price”) would be a good deal. In April, the average new-vehicle MSRP was $45,490, according to our team at Kelley Blue Book. The average transaction price (ATP) was: $46,526 – 2.3% over MSRP.
In fact, last month, only 8 of 35 brands routinely tracked by the KBB team were transacting below sticker. The average incentive package in April was hovering around 3% of ATP, a far cry from the heady days of 9-and-10% routinely seen in 2019 and 2020.
High prices are not the only hurdle. Shoppers this weekend will struggle to find available inventory as well. According to the latest vAuto Available Inventory data, there are roughly 1.13 million unsold new vehicles in dealer stock, about 800,000 fewer than a year ago, when the global chip shortage became evident, and 2.2 million less than in 2020.
All in all, bargain hunters will be challenged. A good deal won’t be impossible, but it won’t be easy. Reviewing a recent analysis of transaction prices and inventory – as measured by days’ supply – we believe the following brands present the industry’s “Best Bets” and “Least Likely” for scoring a great deal this Memorial Day Weekend.
Buick – While the lineup is somewhat limited – four SUVs in varying sizes – Buick’s days’ supply in early May was above the industry average, and most vehicles were transacting below sticker price. The efficient and small Encore and Encore GX might be a good target, with incentive levels slightly above industry average.
Score: 45 (day’s supply) / 99.1 (ATP as a % of MSRP)
Ram – Not everyone needs a hulking new pickup truck in their garage, but many of us do. If a full-size is on your list this weekend, the Ram brand may be the best bet. They are not inexpensive, an average of $60,245, but are transacting below sticker and inventory levels are (relatively) healthy. There are still some 1500 Classics out there, which are often more affordable.
Score: 67 / 99.1
Lincoln – Finding the right Lincoln this weekend won’t be easy, but it won’t be impossible with days’ supply at 45. And with inventory above industry average, transaction prices are typically below MSRP, particularly on the smaller MKX and MKC models.
Score: 45 / 98.8
Fiat – There are hardly any Fiats left for sale in the U.S., literally less than 250 models on lots across the country. They are not selling quickly either, so if you find one, chances are you’ll be able to score a good Memorial Day deal. This is as close to a fire sale as you can find in the industry right now.
Score: 95 / 98.5
Alfa Romeo – Alfa makes a beautiful sedan (Giulia) and a gorgeous SUV (Stelvio), and chances are, if you buy one, you’ll be the only one in your neighborhood. They are not inexpensive, with average prices over $53,000. Still, if you live near an Alfa dealer, you might be surprised. From a days’ supply measure, Alfa has the highest inventory level in the industry, and the vehicles are transacting well below MSRP.
Score 114 / 96.8
Honda – The popular Honda brand started May with a days’ supply of 21, well below the industry average, and transaction prices are tracking well above MSRP, particularly on the popular and fuel-efficient Civic and HR-V models.
Score: 21 (day’s supply) / 108.4 (ATP as a % of MSRP)
Kia – The Kia brand has been on a roll since the start of the pandemic, with excellent new product that is in high demand. The new Seltos and Soul are transacting at 10% over sticker, and the electric new EV6 SUVs, Kia’s most expensive model, is hard to find and available only in select states. At the start of May, the Kia brand had the lowest days’ supply in the industry. Not great for bargain hunters.
Score: 18 / 107.9
Land Rover – The capable, luxury off-roaders from Solihull are hard to find right now, with less than 3,000 units on the ground in the U.S. at the start of May, and ATPs are commonly above $90,000. If your heart has settled on a new Land Rover, get ready. It will be lovely to drive, but it won’t be easy to find or easy to pay for.
Score: 22 / 108.1
Mercedes – Inventory for Mercedes at the start of May was roughly at the national average, but these German luxury vehicles are expensive and routinely transacting for well above $76,000. That’s less than a Land Rover, sure, but not bargain hunter material, and the more popular SUVs have lower inventory than the sedans, making them even tougher to find.
Score: 36 / 105.8
Hyundai – Like its corporate sister Kia, the Hyundai brand has been on a roll since the start of the pandemic, grabbing more market share with excellent new products and a fantastic reputation. The new Ioniq 5 EV is in particularly high demand. Hyundai vehicles are mostly priced below industry average but are transacting well above sticker. Deals are tough to score.
Score: 41 / 105.4
Other brands worth considering: Chevrolet, Ford and Jeep. These mainstream brands have days’ supply slightly above the industry average and transaction prices near MSRP. This holiday weekend that might be the best shoppers can hope for.