When you’re shopping for a new car, you want the latest and greatest model available. Yet what many new car buyers don’t realize is that often, the newest model year offers very few changes. You could purchase a new SUV from the previous model year and get all of the same features at a far lower price.
So, instead of eyeing 2021 SUV models, consider a 2020 SUV instead – as dealerships try to clear out their unsold inventory before the end of the year, prices are dropping. And you could score a huge clearance deal on a new 2020 SUV.
Last Year’s SUVs Offer the Same Features for Less
Think the latest model year is the most up-to-date SUV on the lot? Sometimes that’s true, but more commonly it’s exactly the same as the current model year.
While new models are released every year, the vehicles themselves aren’t typically updated very much. That’s because every single automaker follows what AutoTrader¹ calls the “model cycle,” a six-year cycle that determines when an SUV gets a big update or fresh new look. Here’s what happens each year of the model cycle:
- Years 1 and 2: The vehicle stays the same, with no changes made.
- Year 3: The model gets a facelift. This is a subtle update meant to keep the SUV’s design fresh and modern with a few adjustments, some new technology, and occasionally some style updates like new paint colors or headlights.
- Years 4 and 5: No changes are made.
- Year 6: Time for a redesign. The entire SUV is updated, often with an entirely new style of vehicle. Everything from the engine to the interior to the chassis is redesigned.
Based on this cycle, it’s clear that many cars sit unchanged from model year to model year. That’s why you won’t see many differences, if any, between 2019 and 2020 SUVs. The biggest difference will be the price.
And the 2020 SUVs that aren’t seeing big updates for 2021 can be far more affordable than the newest model year versions. For example, right now there’s a big price difference between certain 2020 and 2021 models. While the 2021 Nissan Murano costs as much as $45,610², a 2020 model of the very same vehicle costs just $39,620³. And a 2021 Buick Envision can run as much as $42,000 according to Consumer Reports⁴ – yet Real Car Tips⁵ is seeing the 2020 model priced at $38,000. It’s clear that you could save $5,000 or more just by opting for a previous model year SUV over a brand-new one.
Dealerships Need to Clear Out 2019 SUVs Now
Now more so than ever, new SUV buyers will benefit from incentives offered by dealers who need to make space for the new 2020 models arriving soon. With 2019 SUVs still sitting on their lots from as long ago as the summer of 2018, dealerships need to make sales to move SUVs.
As new models arrive at dealerships for the 2020 model year, incentives and pricing will likely change – and automakers are always ready to offer even better discounts on last year’s models still sitting on the lot. SUV incentives change each month, and sometimes even throughout the week.
And some of the best SUV deals on 2020 models will appear in the coming weeks. The longer a vehicle sits unsold, the more a dealer is likely to try to incentivize buyers like you with cashback offers, discounts on the MSRP, and other bonuses that make it a more affordable SUV. At the end of the year, there’s always a huge push by dealerships to clear out all of the leftover 2020 SUVs.
Now that you know why last year’s model year is just as good as the newest SUVs on the road, you’re ready to get a deal on your next SUV. But in order to score a clearance deal, you’ll need to know exactly what dealerships are willing to offer.
That’s why researching 2020 models is so important before you head to your local dealership. It’s easy to be swayed by the brand-new 2021 SUVs sitting on a dealership lot – but you don’t need to pay thousands of dollars more for an SUV that’s changed very little. Do your research beforehand, searching for affordable 2020 SUV models at clearance prices. And don’t forget to compare the 2020 SUVs you like with their 2020 counterparts.
This research is crucial to ensure you aren’t overpaying for an SUV that’s had few improvements from 2020 to 2021. Know just what dealerships are offering on 2019 SUVs so you can get the lowest possible price on a brand-new car you love.