If you’re thinking about buying a car, you’ll probably be tempted to just go with the same brand you’re used to: the brand that makes your current car, for instance, or the brand your parents always drove. It’s easier and more familiar that way — and it means the car-buying process will take less time. But we think you should branch out, step out of your comfort zone and consider a different brand when you’re buying your next car — and here’s why.
Incentives is one major reason to consider different car brands — especially “conquest” incentives, which are designed to capture new buyers who currently drive models made by rival automakers.
Although not every brand offers conquest incentives, some do. The way they work is simple: If you’re currently driving a Honda (for example) and you visit a Hyundai dealer, the Hyundai dealer might give you $500 or $1,000 in conquest money if you buy the Hyundai. In other words, you get $500 or $1,000 off the price of the Hyundai just because you’re driving a car from a rival brand. And that’s in addition to any other incentives you qualify for or any deal you might be able to negotiate. The result is that checking out a car from a different automaker could save you a lot of money.
More Negotiating Power
Checking out multiple brands can also benefit you by giving you more negotiating power than you’d normally have. Here’s why: If you only visit one dealer, you won’t have much negotiating power because the dealership knows they’re likely to get your business. But if you walk into five different dealerships that sell cars made by five different brands, you can use their respective offers to negotiate lower prices.
As an example, let’s say you show up at a Ford dealership in a 2008 Fusion and you tell the salesperson that you’re looking to buy a new Fusion right then and there. The dealer is unlikely to give you much of a price break because they can assume you’re buying from them. But let’s say you also visit a Toyota dealer, a Honda dealer, a Hyundai dealer and a Kia dealer — and then you return to the Ford dealer a few days or weeks later. Suddenly, you have many offers to choose from, and you can use them to help convince the Ford dealer to lower its price.
Another reason to consider multiple brands is because you might be surprised at just how much car companies have improved over the years. For instance, if you’ve been driving Toyota products for the last 15 years, then you probably think of Ford as a mediocre brand with only average cars. But in the last few years, Ford has dramatically stepped up its game — and the result is that modern Ford products (and many modern Chevrolet and Chrysler models) are on par with the best cars the Japanese have to offer.
Our point? By considering car brands other than the ones you’re most familiar with when you’re buying a car, you might surprise yourself and discover that there are a lot of great new cars out there. You might even find one that suits your needs (and your desires) more than the latest version of the same old car.