WE’RE STARTING WITH OUR “SAVE MORE” SEGMENT BECAUSE IT IS A JUICY
ONE: HOW TO SAVE BIG BUCKS ON A VEHICLE BY BUYING A “DARK HORSE CAR.” HERE TO EXPLAIN WHAT THAT IS AND HOW MUCH YOU CAN SAVE BY BUYING ONE IS RONALD MONTOYA, EDMUNDS DOT COM SENIOR CONSUMER ADVICE EDITOR. WELCOME, RON!
I THINK PEOPLE KNOW THE EXPRESSION “DARK HORSE” REFERS TO A HORSE THAT’S NOT VERY WELL KNOWN AND COMES OUT OF OBSCURITY TO WIN THE RACE. BUT A FEW YEARS AGO EDMUNDS COINED THE TERM “DARK HORSE CAR.” RON, WHAT IS A DARK HORSE CAR?
Dark horse cars are vehicles that are equivalent to the most popular models but are less well known, less popular. When we first coined this term the classic example we used was the Nissan Altima, which is a dark horse equivalent to the more well known Toyota Camry. They’re really similar in quality and features, but the Altima is significantly less expensive.
WE’LL TELL PEOPLE JUST HOW MUCH LESS EXPENSIVE IN A MINUTE, BUT FIRST, DO DARK HORSE VEHICLES EXIST IN EVERY CATEGORY? They sure do. From compact cars to luxury cars, SUVs to pick up trucks, Edmunds has always been able to identify dark horse vehicles that can save you money. OK, SO LET’S GO THROUGH THEM, CATEGORY BY CATEGORY. YOU GIVE ME THE POPULAR CHOICE AND THE DARK HORSE CAR IN EACH. AND LET’S GO FROM THE CATEGORY WITH THE LEAST SAVINGS TO BE HAD AND BUILD TO THE ONE WHERE YOU CAN SAVE THE MOST MONEY BY BUYING A DARK
Midsize Three-Row SUV
Mainstream: 2017 Toyota Highlander $31,590 (TMV $29,959)
Dark Horse: 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe $31,695 ($27,974 w/$2,000 incentive) ***$1,985 difference 7%
Luxury- Midsize Sedan
Mainstream: 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class $53,075 (TMV: $46,812)
Dark Horse: 2017 Volvo S90 $47,945 (TMV: $40,927)
*****$5,885 difference 13%
Mainstream: 2017 Honda Civic $20,415 (TMV: $18,857)
Dark Horse: 2017 Kia Forte $19,395 (TMV: $16,483 w/$2,500 incentive) *** $2,374 difference 13%
Mainstream: 2017 Honda Accord $24,030 (TMV $21,019) Dark horse: 2017 Hyundai Sonata $22,435 (TMV: $17,773 w/$3,350 incentive) ***$3,246 difference 15%
Mainstream: 2018 Honda Odyssey $30,930 (TMV, is sticker)
Dark Horse: 2017 Kia Sedona $27,850 (TMV: $26,422 w/$1,000 incentive) *** $4,508 difference 15%
Mainstream: 2017 Honda CR-V $24,985 (TMV: $23,881)
Dark horse: 2017 Ford Escape: $24,645 (TMV: $19,707 w/$3,900 incentive) *** $4,174 difference 17%
Luxury- Compact SUV
Mainstream: 2017 BMW X3 $41,045 (TMV: $37,764)
Dark Horse: 2017 Acura RDX $36,645 (TMV: $30,271) ****$7,493
Important Pricing disclaimers. Base models with no options were chosen for the starting MSRP. The savings were estimated from the average price paid in the Santa Monica, CA zip code. People's numbers will vary based on their negotiated price. On vehicles that have an incentive, the numbers are based on offers for the month of June 2017. Many of them will expire on July 5 2017. That being said, on any given day, you're likely to pay more for the mainstream vehicle, so the same concept applies. If they are leasing, the numbers will be different and the incentives are likely to change as well. The savings numbers aren't meant to be taken as gospel. They are meant to showcase other vehicles that due to heavy incentives or the lower starting price, can be a better purchase for price conscious shoppers. THE SAVINGS ARE IMPRESSIVE, BUT I HAVE TO ASK: ARE DARK HORSE CARS AS GOOD QUALITY AS THE MORE POPULAR CARS WE’RE COMPARING THEM TO?
We’ve chosen these dark horse models carefully with quality in mind. Not just ANY alternative make/model makes a worthy dark horse. But it’s easier to find good dark horse picks these days because ALL cars have gone up in quality in recent years. On the flip side, some of the savings we see is because of the power of supply and demand and the fact that the most popular makes/models are marked up because they’re in demand.
TO SEE GREAT USED DARK HORSE CARS, CHECK OUT THE EPISODE 7 GUEST BLOG POST!
GUEST: Ronald Montoya, Senior Consumer Advice Editor
Ron Montoya is a senior consumer advice editor for Edmunds where he helps shoppers navigate the car-buying process. He has plenty of first-hand knowledge of how to do that, since he buys and sells the cars in the Edmunds long-term test fleet.
Ron joined Edmunds in 2008, where he has held a number of different roles and written more than 100 articles as part of the Consumer Advice team. Prior to Edmunds, he worked at two Honda dealerships, which is where he first started developing his extensive knowledge of the car shopping process.
Ron received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from California State University
2017 Mazda 3
First car / favorite memory: My first car was a 1984 Toyota Corolla. My favorite car memory was driving up the California coast to the Concours D'Elegance, in Pebble Beach, in a 1989 Yugo.