January 30, 2015
2015 Cruze L Manual - $16,995* (*Plus Destination)
In an unusual shift, GM has slashed base prices by almost $2,600 on some of its bestselling models. However, a closer look suggests there could be hidden tradeoffs. Last month, Chevrolet quietly launched the 2015 Cruze L, undercutting the lowest-priced Cruze LS by $1,575. Isolated case? Far from it.
CarsDirect has learned the automaker has also lowered starting prices on the Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain, and Buick LaCrosse. The changes aren't small potatoes, too, with an average decrease of almost $2,500.
Some models now start substantially lower than competitors. The Chevrolet Cruze has a starting MSRP $2,320 lower than the least-expensive Honda Civic LX. The Chevrolet Equinox, previously $1,075 higher than the Honda CR-V, is now $1,325 less expensive.
The GMC Terrain widens its price advantage over the Ford Edge from $1,540 to a whopping $4,030. The Buick LaCrosse, previously more expensive than the Toyota Avalon, is now $1,220 lower.
New Trim Name Lowest MSRP (Before) Lowest MSRP (After) Difference
2015 Chevrolet Cruze L $17,745 $16,170 -$1,575
2015 Chevrolet Equinox L $24,520 $22,120 -$2,400
2015 GMC Terrain SL $26,560 $24,070 -$2,490
2015 Buick LaCrosse 1SV $33,635 $31,065 -$2,570
The most interesting thing is that GM has managed to leapfrog competitor pricing without stripping away key features. What GM has done, however, is slice dealer margins on the least-expensive trims.
For example, the difference in invoice and MSRP prices on a Chevrolet Cruze LS has been about $600. The difference on the new Cruze L? $81. On a typically more profitable vehicle like the Buick LaCrosse, the previous base margin was nearly $1,350. Now? It barely breaks $150.
Compact car profit margins are typically small, but this is unusual and dealers are unlikely to provide discounts. We've already seen the telltale signs with the exclusion of the Cruze L from this month's incentives. While it's too soon to say if the Equinox L, Terrain SL, and LaCrosse 1SV will see similar exclusions, it wouldn't be surprising.