Understanding Car Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price

Understanding Car Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price

What Is MSRP?

When shopping for a new car, you may have come across the term “MSRP”, short for Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price. MSRP is the price you see on the window sticker for a new vehicle. It serves as the suggested price that the manufacturer gives to the dealer for selling the vehicle.

4 Items Not included In The MSRP.

The MSRP includes the base price of the vehicle along with the standard equipment and any manufacturer-installed options or packages. However, it may not include other expenses related to the vehicle including:

  1. Destination Charge. This is the cost the dealership must pay the manufacturer for the delivery of the vehicle to the lot.
  2. Dealer-Installed Options. Any options installed after the vehicle arrived at the dealership will not be reflected in the MSRP. In these cases, you will see an additional window sticker noting what these options are, the cost and the final cost of the vehicle.
  3. Taxes, Fees and Registration. The MSRP does not include sales tax, registration and title fees. The state mandates these fees, so you cannot negotiate these costs down. Typically, they add these fees to the vehicle cost and finance them in the loan.
  4. Dealership Fees. Dealerships may include other charges like document preparation fees, dealer preparation fees and advertising fees. These fees may be negotiated down.

Is Paying Above MSRP The New Normal?

Traditionally, MSRP has been the starting point for price negotiations between you and the salesperson. However, with vehicle shortages and low inventory, this is no longer the case. If a vehicle is in high demand or you are seeking a vehicle with a rare trim package, you may have to pay MSRP to get the vehicle you want. In these cases, it may be your best option to place an order for the vehicle. Additionally, we highly encourage you to find a reputable dealership that doesn’t charge more than MSRP, especially if you are ordering the vehicle.

The Future Of Car Manufacturing And Buying.

Some industry experts speculate that manufacturers and dealerships may transition to “order-only production” as a result of the changing market dynamics. This means they would have to place an order for the specific vehicle you want and wait for it to be produced. The supply chain and production disruptions caused by COVID-19 have demonstrated to auto manufacturers that they can produce fewer vehicles and sell them for a higher price, resulting in increased profits. However, this production model can significantly lessens your ability to negotiate and receive incentives from the manufacturer.


MSRP is an essential term to understand when purchasing a car. It serves as a suggested price set by the manufacturer, providing a baseline for pricing and transparency in the automotive market. While the MSRP acts as a starting point, it does not represent the final sale price, as factors like negotiation, incentives, and discounts can affect the actual amount paid. By understanding the MSRP, buyers can navigate the car buying process more confidently, compare prices, and make informed choices that align with their budget.

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