What to Read Next

Nissan drops price on seven cars, but not all are smart buys

Consumer Reports News
May 3, 2013

Automakers make routine price adjustments to respond to market forces or account for increased production costs. In an interesting move, Nissan lowered the prices substantially on seven models to help them appear in search results when shoppers are researching cars online by price.

At first blush, it would appear Nissan is stacking the deck, getting cars into search results that may not appear at dealerships. We have seen it happen before, but that is not the case here. Instead, the company is doing what could be called a price alignment, shifting the official retail price to be much closer to what consumers are actually paying. By then promoting this revised price, it does appear on paper, or on screen in this case, that Nissan has gained some advantages.

Visit our new car buying guide for quick access to the latest advice, Ratings, road tests, and videos.

To better understand how Nissan now measures up, our Auto Price Services team analyzed prices before and after this change, and then compared the seven Nissan models against likely competitors, factoring their retail and transaction prices.

Because the Nissan discounts vary from low to high trims, we focused on the larger discount on high trims for consistency.

When comparing the original and new, lower prices for these Nissans, it is plain that the revised figures would change how the models rank by price when researching.

We anticipate the transaction price will prove similar to what people paid prior to this move. After all, this change was balanced by Nissan reducing incentives on the car. In the end, it might all be a wash.

Looking through the chart, some models seem to be much closer to sales reality. For instance, the Juke is shown to be just $267 above its transaction price. However, despite the hefty $4,400 adjustment to the Armada, transaction prices are still $2,690 less than the new price.

As with advertised promotions, always assume there is more room for negotiations.

Another way to look at this: Each new car has some negotiation space built in, between what the dealership paid and what the window sticker lists. In a hypothetical example, if there is a $2,000 difference between those extremes and the automaker makes a $1,500 adjustment, the automaker is conceding three-quarters of the negotiation space to the customer. Now there is only a potential $500 in play. Whether you get another $500 off, remains to be seen. But at least everyone gets the $1,500 off.

The price changes are now in effect and will be reflected on window stickers as an equipment adjustment.

Make/model Original price Transaction price Discount New price
Family sedans
Nissan Altima 3.5 SL $31,350 $28,498 $580 $30,770
Honda Accord EX-L V6 $30,860 $27,992    
Toyota Camry XLE V6 $31,260 $28,824    
Large SUV
Nissan Armada 4WD 4dr Platinum $57,755 $50,665 $4,400 $53,355
Chevrolet Tahoe 4WD 4dr 1500 LTZ $58,145 $52,788    
Toyota Sequoia 4WD 5.7L Limited $56,160 $52,004    
Small SUV
Nissan Juke SL AWD automatic $27,730 $26,173 $1,290 $26,440
Mini Countryman Cooper S ALL4 $28,000 $27,545    
Subaru XV Crosstrek 2.0i Limited $25,590 $24,298    
Upscale sedans
Nissan Maxima 3.5 SV w/ Premium Package $40,060 $35,132 $2,270 $37,790
Acura TL with Technology Package $40,530 $36,259    
Toyota Avalon Limited $40,445 $37,880    
Midsized SUV
Nissan Murano LE AWD $42,085 $38,099 $1,460 $40,625
Honda Pilot Touring AWD $42,100 $36,947    
Toyota Highlander 4x4 Limited $40,245 $37,171    
Small SUV
Nissan Rogue AWD 4dr SL $31,095 $28,712 $2,300 $28,795
Honda CR-V EX-L AWD $29,625 $27,160    
Toyota RAV4 4WD Limited $29,255 $27,992    
Small cars (automatic transmission)
Nissan Sentra 4dr Sdn I4 CVT SL $20,610 $19,459 $730 $19,880
Chevrolet Cruze 1LT Automatic $20,465 $18,872    
Honda Civic 4dr Auto Ex $21,605 $19,568    
Mazda3 4dr Sdn Auto i Touring $21,145 $18,715    

When analyzing deals, we always look at not only how good the pricing is, but how good the cars performed in our tests. After all, a great deal on bad car isn't appealing.

Of the seven Nissans, only two of them don't meet our requirements to earn a Consumer Reports' Recommendation, the Armada and Sentra.

The big, clumsy Armada has dismal fuel economy, sloppy handling, tight third-row seat, and substandard interior finish. Needless to say, its overall test score trails several competitors. But the real limitation is that its predicted reliability is much worse than average. So, even with a great deal, do we think you should buy this truck? No.

And then there's the Sentra. Between the nonstop engine drone, uninspired handling, and pogo-stick ride, the Sentra's overall score of 64 puts it too low to recommend. Again, not worth buying at just about any price when there are ample better choices.

But, the other five Nissan measure up well. Check out pricing chart above for more details on the numbers, then click through on the model names to visit the model pages for complete road tests, reliability data, owner cost information, and detailed pricing.

Online subscribers are eligible for hassle-free shopping and low prices through the Consumer Reports Build & Buy program. Unlike traditional car buying, there is no pressure or obligation to purchase. Participating dealers are held to high standards of competitive pricing and customer service. Simply click the "Build & Buy This Car" button that appears on the vehicle's model overview page to access the program.

More from Consumer Reports:
2013 New Car Preview
Best and worst used cars
Complete Ratings for 200 cars and trucks

Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers or sponsors on this website. Copyright © 2007-2013 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission.