2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In HybridEnlarge Photo
Have you ever wondered whether you're paying over the odds for a car, compared to your neighbors in other states?
We all know that prices differ abroad, but there can sometimes be hundreds of dollars between a car in one state, and the price people pay in another.
We decided to investigate the differences by picking a city in each of the 50 states, and comparing pricing using TrueCar.com. The service displays an MSRP, average price and a target price for each car on sale, in an area of your choosing.
For comparison, we looked at the average price consumers pay for the 2012 Toyota Prius.
Our first observation is that, as a car which has been on sale for several years and is now clear of any initial spikes in demand, nobody is paying more than MSRP on average, though some individuals are paying more than MSRP. Pricing is ultimately down to the individual dealer, which suggests that you should shop around your local area to ensure you aren't being charged more than you need to be.
The average price does vary, but not by a great deal across the country. There was a maximum $449 difference between the averaged prices in the most and least expensive states.
With some more shopping around, you can probably find enough of a discount to negate that difference entirely.
The most expensive state we found was Indiana, where buyers in Indianapolis are paying an average of $24,374 for a base Prius with no options. That's over $400 under MSRP of $24,795.
The cheapest cars were found in Alabama, Georgia, and both South and North Carolina, at $23,925. That's despite the MSRP being more expensive than Indiana, at $24,840 in all four states. So not only are customers paying less, they're also getting even more money off MSRP, at $915.
As for other locations, buyers in Miami, Florida are also paying under $24,000, and buyers in the Western states are all paying in the region of $24,200, from an MSRP of $24,795.
Overall, the statistics suggest that while shopping around the country won't get you any great discounts, at least given the expense of traveling large distances to buy cars--but shopping around your local area could mean saving an easy few hundred dollars.
And remember, on some cars, particularly electric vehicles, state incentives can make a real difference to the price.