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Los Angeles, CA
Price Range (MSRP): $17,680 (Jetta) to $49,705 (Touareg)
Volkswagen is a German car manufacturer known for its extensive lineup of affordable, yet premium vehicles. For 2016, Volkswagen brings its newly available MIB II multimedia system with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto to its cars.
The Beetle is available as a compact hatchback or convertible. This year, it has revised trim levels. The R-Line trims have a 210-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission.
The Golf has several variants, which includes the e-Golf, Golf GTI, Golf R, and Golf Sportwagen. The regular Golf comes as a two- or four-door hatchback. The SE and SEL trim levels get a Driver Assistance Package that includes adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, blind spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert, and automated parallel and perpendicular parking.
For an even more fun driving experience, the Golf GTI is available. For 2016, it received the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award.
Those looking for an adrenaline rush should look at the Golf R, which comes with a 292-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine mated to a new 6-speed manual transmission or a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic.
The Golf Sportwagen is a versatile, 5-door compact wagon. It also gets the Driver Assistance Package found in the regular Golf. It received the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award.
The Jetta gets a new engine option, enhanced smartphone connectivity, and new styling on the sporty GLI trim. The new base engine is a 150-hp, turbocharged 1.4-liter 4-cylinder mated to a 6-speed automatic. It improves fuel economy to 28/39 mpg city/highway. The GLI comes with a new front fascia, honeycomb front grille, and restyled fog lights. A Jetta Hybrid version is also available.
The Passat has been restyled with a thinner front grille and headlights. LED headlights and taillights are also newly available.
The CC sedan has a new 2.0T base model that comes with a 200-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. The 2.0T Sport and 2.0T R-Line trim levels gain remote keyless entry, push-button start, and a post-collision braking system that reduces the chance of a second collision.
Last year, the Tiguan had new standard features, which included a backup camera, satellite radio, and touchscreen audio system, but its price increased by $3,000. Fortunately, the Tiguan has been lowered by $1,400 for this year.
The Touareg is a luxury crossover that seats up to 5 passengers. It has two powertrains: a V-6 and a turbodiesel V-6.
The Touareg Hybrid has been discontinued.
Zero percent financing, employee discount, cash back, out-the-door price tags...
Most dealers work hard to offer the public competitive prices. These incentives can grab your attention, but they can also obscure the actual terms you're getting on your purchase.
How can you fully understand incentives to get the lowest possible price on your car?
Most state franchise laws prohibit manufacturers from selling cars directly to the public, so the dealer will be your middleman. But in terms of financing and insurance, you can choose a bank or the dealer directly.
How can you determine what's in your best interest?
Destination charges, taxes, license and title fees, advertising fees... When going to a dealership, you must ask for an explanation of any fee you don't understand. But you need to choose your battles wisely. Your local car dealer may have taken a loss or slim profit along the way, and your fighting over something like a doc fee when the deal is nearly wrapped up may be counterproductive.
In any case, there are many fees and charges in the sale process: some inevitable, others questionable.
How do you tell them apart?
If you currently own a car, it probably represents profit. The question is, whose profit will it be?
With few exceptions, you'll get the most money for your used car by selling it privately. That's because dealers pay wholesale prices — not retail prices — for used cars, and they sell them at retail.
Your current car's value can be used to lower the price on your new car. However, most people underestimate their used car's value when going to a dealership.
How can you maximize your value?
The car manufacturer holds back a fraction of the price of all vehicles the dealership sells. Then, it returns the money to the dealership, usually on a quarterly basis.
Dealer holdback began its life as a safety net that ensured the manufacturers would have a security deposit of sorts if a dealership missed payments, and the dealerships would have money on hand to cover overhead costs when the holdback was returned.
How can you take advantage of dealer holdbacks to get the bottom line price?
Unlike consumer incentives, dealer incentives are factory-to-dealer incentives that reduce the dealer's true cost to buy the vehicle from the factory to below invoice.
Manufacturers offer these incentives on a regional basis to generate sales on specific models. These incentives are sometimes referred to as "spiffs," and they can touch off competition among dealers to move slower-selling stock.
For instance, a dealer incentive may kick in when a certain sales target is reached, with each subsequent sale resulting in a higher factory-to-dealer rebate.
How can you benefit from that?