We Bought a 2013 Honda Civic, And It Wasn't Easy

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The Cars.com long-term fleet expanded this week with the addition of a brand-new 2013 Honda Civic. We picked the Civic out of dozens of possible new vehicles introduced for 2013 because of the updates that Honda went through to make what is one of the best-selling cars in the country more competitive.

Follow Our Long-Term Fleet

Unlike the silky-smooth purchase of our long-term Subaru BRZ in December, navigating the waters to get the best deal on a more readily available car was quite an adventure.

We encountered "end-of-the-month" issues, potential gender bias and a dealer who wouldn't budge on price. Here's how we finally got our deal.

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Our first step was to contact a few dealers through Cars.com and see what types of quotes we could get with a self-imposed deadline for a purchase four weeks later.

We were a bit surprised at how aggressive the dealers were; most wanted to make a deal that day, though we shouldn't have been surprised. One Chicago-based Honda dealer stood out as being the most accommodating with a terrific internet price of $17,693.50, including a destination fee. With sales tax and all dealer fees, we were looking at $19,790.63 out the door.

That's 10.4% off the price (a combination of MSRP and destination) for what is a rather affordable and brand-new model. It also happened to be one of the last days of January.

We took notes of all the prices and let the salesman know that we'd keep in touch. During the negotiations, the editor contacting dealers used his real name and clearly stated this would be a company car and that we'd be paying cash. The editor used his personal email address to avoid revealing his link to Cars.com. We didn't want that relationship to influence the deal in any way.

In-person dealership visits

The next week was the beginning of February, and two other editors visited dealerships in person to see if there would be a difference going in blind with no previous online or phone contact.

First, an editor went to a suburban Chicago Honda dealer. He was met by a salesman who quickly tried to determine if it was a 2012 or 2013 model that the editor wanted as well as the color and trim level. The editor and salesman then took a test drive.

Civic_dealership_3

The editor only revealed what the salesman asked of him, so when the negotiations started it was clear he was going to pay cash, had no trade-in and would be paying via a company check.

The salesman pulled out a familiar sheet with four quadrants on it with the MSRP, lease and financing deals all penciled in.

He asked if the full MSRP sounded like a fair price.

The editor replied that he had heard from friends that there were deals to be had.

The salesman crossed out the MSRP and wrote a new number below it ... $100 less and asked if that was a "fair" price.

Our editor looked puzzled at the offer. Without another word, the price was scratched out and dropped another $100.

Thinking this could go on for a while, our editor reported a figure he had "heard of" and wanted something close to that. The figure was a few hundred dollars below the best online quote we had been given a week before.

That's when the salesman got up to talk to his manager.

He came back with a very good price of $17,600 before destination or other fees. The editor smiled and said he was happy with it. They went to look at other colors available on the lot, and the editor said he'd talk it over with his better half.

The salesman asked our editor to come back in to get his business card. A few minutes passed and he returned with a new quadrant sheet with a figure of $17,160 without destination (or $17,950 including destination). That was the price the editor would get if he signed the deal on the spot. He passed.

The entire exchange was a perfectly acceptable negotiation in our eyes and we respected the salesman for his determination. But the price was still $256.50 more than our best quote from the city-based dealer.

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A few days later another editor returned to the same suburban dealer and had a different experience.

She too said that she'd be paying in cash and wanted a test drive and a quote before she left the lot.

She was greeted by a different salesman, who said he'd only been on the job for a few days. After he said that the red color we wanted was only available on the Civic coupe, she believed that he was new to his job. They then took a test drive.

When it came time to negotiate, the salesman couldn't quote an out-the-door price to our editor. She asked for some kind of figure so she had an idea of what to consider. A sales manager was called over and said since she wasn't going to buy the car that day they couldn't quote her a price below MSRP.

The final price they gave her was the full MSRP of $18,965, which was $1,805 more than the deal our other editor had been offered when he left the same dealership.

Price changes again

Back at the office, we as a group were somewhat shocked by this price discrepancy. Before we learned what happened, we would have bought from that first salesman who offered us a good deal. With the female editor's treatment, we decided to go with the city-based dealer that had the slightly more competitive online quote.

When we emailed the online salesman, a different Internet sales representative replied, saying that original deal was only for January and for February, it would be $20,228 out the door, or $437.37 more than our last quote. We asked if they could get closer to the price we had just been quoted in suburbia; the new salesperson said they weren't budging from the price.

That's when another editor who had recently bought a Honda Odyssey forwarded a President's Day sale email from his dealer that quoted a Civic price of $17,659, including destination. We immediately got on the phone. It was President's Day.

We talked with an internet salesperson who said that the price was good as long as we could come in and sign the paperwork that day by 9 p.m.. They didn't have a red one in stock, but said they could get one in a day or two. We didn't even need a deposit check. The out-the-door price was quoted as $19,678.88.

It sounded great. We emailed her some more details along with confirmation of everything she had said to us on the phone.

That's when her sales manager called us back and asked us a few more questions. He said he'd get back to us.

Minutes later, the initial salesperson called us back, apologized and explained that the price was only for cars on their lot at that time and not for one from another dealer's lot. She explained it would actually take from two to four weeks to get a red one.

We hung up agitated, but at least the entire exchange had taken place over a few hours through a handful of calls and emails.

We were left with that city dealer's price of $20,228.

Reaching out via social media

Now what?

That's when we scratched our heads, and social media came to save us. One of our editors had a Twitter acquaintance through his personal network. This acquaintance happened to work at a group dealership that included Honda in Chicago's far Northwest suburbs. We sent him a message to see if we were getting a good deal.

The salesman quickly called back and said the city dealer wasn't giving us a bad deal at a few hundred dollars below invoice. He, of course, told us they had two red Civic LXs on their lot and he'd beat the other dealer's price by $100. The final out-the-door price came to $20,100.

We were so thankful for straight-shooting from a friendly salesperson at this stage that, despite an extra 40 miles round trip to get the car, we decided to go through the Twitter-connected salesperson rather than the confrontational one in the city.

Some paperwork was exchanged via the internet and two days later with our check in hand we picked up the car. It took just 45 minutes to complete the transaction from the time we walked through the door until we had the keys, which was similar to our purchase of the Subaru BRZ. That time included a full walk-through of the car's features and examination of the car to make sure nothing was amiss. The odometer had 18 miles on it.

We learned quite a bit from this experience. Throughout, we leaned toward accommodating dealers and salespeople who clearly spelled out the deal they were offering.

If we hadn't sent that second editor to that suburban Chicago dealership, we would have returned and bought from them without a hesitation.

We'll continue our coverage of the 2013 Honda Civic for the next twelve months. If you have any specific questions you want us to answer please leave them in the comments.

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Comments 

Joe

Your experience buying a Civic is similar to our experience buying an Odyssey this summer. There are almost a dozen dealers within a 50 mile radius and we had deals ranging from MSRP-$500 to Invoice. Experiences at the dealerships ranged a bit too - from the shiny new dealership (that insulted my intelligence and tried to offer MSRP -$500 despite telling them I had an excellent internet quote) to a more run-down dealership that offered us a great price. Guess who we went with?

Good information here, thanks for sharing.

Derrick G

These dealers' attitudes are surprising. From what I've read, the '13 Civic is receiving positive, but not glowing, reviews. And Cars.com's inventory shows there are just a few hundred fewer '13 Civics in stock as there are '13 Camrys. And as we saw a few days ago, the new Civics are selling but aren't flying off lots. Guess these folks must have taken quite a few baths ridding themselves of left-over '12 models and are trying to make back up the money.

Robert S

Did you contact the suburban Chicago dealership and let them know the reason why you didn't buy a Civic from them?

XRS2009

Getting a good deal is not an easy tab. I bought a 2012 Corolla S back in February 2012 with a $19,000 and some change out of the door including GAP and Extended Warranty. Ten month later I wanted I wanted to trade the car because I was having some issues, so I go back to dealer here in Jacksonville, FL. They offer me $13,000 for the car I just got from them 10 months ago which I kept like a showroom car. And in order for them to sell me a car I would have to put down like $8,000. I said NO. On December 29, 2012 I went to PA for New Years eve and took my car to service at a local Toyota dealership. I got a 2013 Corolla S with 0% financing only $400 down, extended warranty plus 4 yrs maintenance inlcuded. Oh and for my 2012 Corolla s trade they gave me $17,000 and some change.

mike

That sounds just like a honda dealership. I really like their cars but of all the dealerships they have the worst sales people and the worst buying experience. My wife and I have been looking for a car for her and ended up not getting a honda because they were just so dishonest through the whole process. Every single honda dealer we went to.

Kram

You haven't been to a Chevy dealer. Hands-down in my 40+ years of buying cars the most dishonest sales people seem to congregate at Chevy dealerships.

WTF

Should have bought a 2012. In-law bought one this past summer and without negotiating was offered $5000 below MSRP.

AlphaDog

That's a lot to go through for a boring-looking, underpowered, compact car. If people would stop letting the dealerships jerk them around maybe the games would end. The best buying experience is through Costco. I purchased my last three cars through their network. You may encounter a few games with your trade-in but just stay firm. The price on the car you are buying will be excellent though.

Steve

I had a far easier time purchasing my 2013 Civic LX (automatic) through Truecar.

Printed the quote and brought it to the dealer. After the test drive, showed them the quote. Signed the papers and drove off. Not a second wasted on negotiations. Easy as 1-2-3!

I tried Costco, Carwoo, Carsdirect, AAA and others... but Truecar beat the next lowest by $800!

I've owned it for a month and absolutely love it!

Ryan

anyone has a good price quote for Honda Civic LX automatic in Seattle WA area...got a price quote of 19000 in Seattle and 17000 in California

victoria

Thanks for all the info guys! Im amased at all the god-awful experiences everyones had.
Including myself!
I just sold my BMW..bought a VW Passat just 4days ago. Not 10 minutes after returning to the dealership for mats they forgot to put in my car.. the car had an electrical failure and died on the highway. Called AAA..towed it back...come to find out..the service dept is closed till tuesday( holiday weekend)
This car was just purchased!! Wtf?!
Cars..dealerships..salespeople...Ugggg!!

Neva

I have been looking for a car to buy. Have Toyotas at the moment and was looking for some 2013 Corollas LE. However I also went to Honda to look for 2012 Civic but was not avail so drove 2013 Civic LX (sedan).
Here is what I am going to offer---15500 out the door with around 5k down, and also would like to trade in a car. Is that a fair deal? What would be the reasonable bargain?
I have seen 2013 corollas with less than 4k miles for around 15k without any negotiations yet.
Thanks.

Tom

If you're purchasing a Honda in the Charlotte metro, go to Honda of Concord. They love pushing cars off the lot, and will give you a great deal. I am looking to trade in my 2001 Accord EX-L V6, which I have kept in great shape, and they are offering me $5,000 as a trade-in towards a 2013 Civic LX or EX. Note, they are also selling the Civic's at the Manufactures' price, which is around $2700 off the MSRP on the lot. That's an excellent deal in my opinion.

Ashley

Just bought a Honda Civic LX, $20,550 out the door - including leather interior, trunk tray, scotch guard interior and sealant on exterior (with 7 year leather/paint warranty), door and wheel rim molding. Without all those extras out the door woulda been $18,300. Without fees, tax etc. was approx. $16,800. Used True Car then pitted dealers against each other. They tried to jack price back up by hiding fees in final contract but I showed them the signed quote I'd gotten the day before.... Took me a week but well worth the savings!! (Florida purchase).

I have spent many years in the auto industry selling cars - actually let me correct that. I helped people buy cars. You may say "Yeah right!" but there is a difference.

I heard so many stories about bad salespeople and the discrepancies of prices and treatment of customers that sometimes I honestly just couldn't believe it. The next time you want a Honda product I'm willing to bet that you will go straight to that final salesperson (hopefully you contact the person and not neccesarily the dealer) to get a price. On the second car, you'll probably get a couple more prices just to keep the person honest but because the trust is established you'll work with them better to get the deal done.

The third Honda can almost be bought over the phone... If anyone asks about buying the car you'll recommend the final dealer to save the hassle...

Why don't salespeople and dealerships understand that the intention is not to sell one car but help someone buy 15-20 cars. A person is going to own 15-20 cars over the course of their lifetime AND they know at least 100 people well enough to invite to their wedding... 100 people who also need cars (15-20 over their lifetimes...)

If only sales people would help folks "buy" cars instead of trying to "sell" them cars then the industry would be so much better off... IMO

Murray

I just bought a Civic Si coupe loaded. They offerred me $1000 off. I went out to test drive a couple others and then returned to the civic because the interior was better then Toyota or Subaru. They said was it $1500 we gave you off and I said yes then bought the car. I'm happy.

V

Just bought a 2013 Civ LX yesterday. My dad was price bargaining for awhile and got it to 19k out the door by getting into his car and leaving the lot. They came up to the car and said that they settled with my dad's offer so we went back inside and finished all the paperwork.

daniel kim

I bought Honda civic at Pasadena Honda from travis. He is so kind and price was good.

JasonR

I would have went with the President's Day deal and picked a color they had in stock. The LX wheel covers are pretty lame, but the alloys on the EX/EX-L are just as ugly. They really need to re-think the wheel designs.

john

I just bought a 2013 manual for 17,750 that had minor hail damage that was fixed. They tried very hard to sell me the extended warranty and gap for 1900 after I said no to around 2900. I was about to say if he didn't stop I would leave when he finally stopped. This was the first new car I bought, and was not as bad of a process as I expected.

paula widner

how is the car doing for you?

Anthony

I had an amazing experience. I was lucky enough to get a new 2013 Honda Civic EX Sedan for $18,300, before all the added expenses. It even had mud flaps.

kyle

I work at a Honda dealership, just remember when you are shopping cars and dealership against each other, that the sales person also has to make a living and as the dealership has to turn a profit. Cars sold below or at invoice is an insult to your sales rep. They get paid a flat 50-100 per car at invoice.

kyle

500$ over invoice is a fair deal for the customer, the sales rep and for the dealership. Everyone wins and YOUR level of service will be red carpet everytime you come in for service and your next car purchase. The people who low ball and pin dealerships against each other I dont put alot of my time into. At below invoice or at invoice I sell cars at, but its either you want the car today or not and I move onto the next person.

Mahmud

I had a 2013 Civic LX Automatic on a lease which was costing me an extra $100/month. No thanks to yet another greedy Honda dealer. Went to get a Camry but was offered $14000 as trade-in for a car I had used less than 4 months with less than 3500 miles on it! Even the new car smell was still there! Sold it to Carmax for $17000 and was off the lease paying the difference in the payoff amount! Amazing experience! Always get your car appraised by Carmax before selling it.

Allyson

how much insurance do you pay?

Mores

It is far easy to be honest and upfront so there is no wasted time, i work for a dealer that offers all vehicles $500 above invoice even vehicles with low inventory and high demand, no negotiation at all, most people buy the vehicles for the price offered. Yes they could save a few hundred dollars elsewhere but the nearest dealership for the brand is 40 miles away, we are very customer service oriented, most people in the area are affluent and educated enough to not be jumping from dealer to dealer for to save just a few bucks. Plus each time you go to a dealer and share your personal info they will share 10 times more which will only increase the risk of your info spread everywhere.

linda w

good luck with your honda lemon, better buy a true car instead

Fred Shaw

Hi,We just Lease a 2013 civic LX and I wanted to know that how is this car performance and reliability
compare to price?Two thing that i don't like about are
is hard to see how far is front of car to a car in front of you and also is hard to check the coolant level.Have Fun with your CIVICS.

It's always the best to visit few dealers before buying a new car. You can save TONS of $$$ this way.

Tom

i like too say that the 2012 one year old brand new out the door without aircondition 4 door stick cost me 17.300 and i was happy ... it`s nice simple and reliable just stick too your guns and walk out if you have too they tried too weasel up the price with the other manager in his office for undercoating which already came with the car they thought i wouldnt know that just make sure you tell them your wasting your breath ... and they will stop and let you win be nice about it and they will too Honda civic DX

Hod Stimmple

we bought a 2013 lx out the door for $21,500.00...what a great deal!..is this a good deal?...also the Scion dealer tried to ripp me off.

thanks

Hod Stimmple

Hi tom..."comment above me"...what an idiot!! LoL

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