Alternate Appraisals - 2013 Lexus GS 350 Long-Term Road Test

2013 Lexus GS 350 Long-Term Road Test

2013 Lexus GS 350: Alternate Appraisals

September 6, 2013

2013 Lexus GS 350

I was pretty disappointed with the $40,000 that CarMax offered for our 2013 Lexus GS 350. I wanted to improve on that offer and decided to list it on AutoTrader for $47,500. This was roughly its private-party sales value, according to the Edmunds True Market Value estimate.

In the meantime, I decided to get other price quotes to test if CarMax's offer was in the ballpark. I ended up learning a few things in the process.

I tried Trade-in Solutions first. This company has a number of reviews on Yelp, with people saying that they got a great price on their car. The appraiser said that he'd only be able to match CarMax's offer of $40k at best.

Next, I tried the online quote service from AutoNation. You answer a few questions about the car, send in a few photos and then you get a price. I liked the prompt response, but I didn't like the price. AutoNation quoted me the lowest offer yet: $39,200.

My next move was to call a few Lexus dealerships. After all, this would be a perfect car for them to certify. It's loaded with options and only a year old. I called three Lexus dealers. One ignored my call.

The used-car manager at Jim Falk Lexus of Beverly Hills was very helpful and honest about his appraisal. "This car is really loaded, but my customers don't really shop for specific options." He said that his customers only care about the color and whether the car has navigation on it. This meant that the options on our GS 350 had little value to him.

Another issue was that many of the major options on our Lexus weren't coming up in his system. The car was too new and the system hadn't been updated to reflect the value of things like the F Sport package, rear steering and more.

"I suspect CarMax had this same issue," said the used-car manager. "They probably quoted you a price for the luxury package and navigation."

Adding to the bad news was the fact that there were no comparable cars being sold at auction to help the used-car manager size up its value. The miles were too high on our car and it was too loaded with options. The dealer wasn't willing to quote a higher price, due to that low sample size. Our Lexus is what my colleague Phil Reed and I call a "Frankenstein Car." There's no other one like it.

"The best I can do is offer you $40,000," said the used car manager. "It'll cost me about $1,000 to certify it, and I'd probably list it for $43,900."

And here I was asking $47,500. That's probably why I only received one reply to the ad in a week, a man offering $39,000 cash. I told him his offer was too low, but he never countered. The following day, I dropped the price to $43,900 on AutoTrader and I hope to end up slightly above $40k.

As it turns out, the CarMax price wasn't the lowball offer that I made it out to be. It seems to be in line with other offers, based on the current information available.

There is a glimmer of hope, however. Stevens Creek Lexus in San Jose, a dealer we worked with for an Edmunds event, made us a tentative offer of $42,000. We're still hammering out the details, but I'll keep you posted.

Ronald Montoya, Consumer Advice Editor @ 20,930 miles


  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    Um, is that that a 27% one-year depreciation I see in the Incredible Japanese Quality Machine? And that's what's being offered out there in the West Coast crib that loves all things Japanese? Hahahahahaha. The internets are collapsing. Oh, yeah...and the excuse being offered there in SoCal where there are probably more used GS300s for sale than anywhere else in the that this is a Frankenstein car. Because it has a summer tire package, you know. In LA. During the summer.

  • rmhpmi rmhpmi Posts:

    Damn you Steve. I was going to offer $41,000

  • cotak cotak Posts:

    What you get for putting performance option on a brand that are purchased by people who wants an up-scale corolla.

  • Someone on your staff needs to buy this thing. I personally love the way it looks, you guys raved about it all year, itll (most likely) be more reliable than the german alternative over the next 6 (7?) years that itll take someone to pay for it, and its really all the car most anyone needs. If i had the 40K to spend a lux sedan right now this would be it. Over the 5, the A6, E class. Maybe not the Jag XF Supercharged but i have a soft spot for that. Come on Edmunds, someone step up!

  • so is edmunds going to fix their TMV of $45k? since the real TMV is $40k? How did edmunds come up with that number, seeing that it is so off? I thought it was based on actual like cars sold. Not on assumptions.

  • do all these places just use pretty much the same computer program/service to calculate the values?

  • fordson1, Isn't that about the normal percentage for a trade-in on a 1 year old car (with nearly 2 years of mileage on it). The dealers are paying wholesale not retail for it. It is just a lot harder to swallow when it isn't 25% of a 16,000 car.

  • agentorange agentorange Posts:

    "He said that his customers only care about the color and whether the car has navigation on it. " Yep, everything else is fluff or more things to go wrong as far as the used buyer is concerned. Extras on a new car depreciate to almost zero the minute the wheels leave the lot. I'm surprised that Edmunds has never previously come across this long established fact of the car business.

  • tp660 tp660 Posts:

    I would buy this from you guys in a heartbeat if I had the money. I had a chance to drive this. Lexus did a really good job with this car. The interior is nicely finished and the way it drives and handles is just superb. Definitely plan on getting one when I can afford it.

  • diondi diondi Posts:

    Trade you guys a GTI for it!

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    @zimtheinvader, I'm glad you asked that. Because my math was faulty - $40k represents a depreciation of 37%, not 27% for the GS350, over one year and 20k miles. That's BAD. The Infiniti M56, which was about $4k more new than the Lexus, depreciated 26%

  • darthbimmer darthbimmer Posts:

    I agree that it's hard to get value trading in a car with lots of specialized options-- the "frankenstein" car as you call it. You've basically got to find the buyer who knows & wants those options. A fleet buyer is not going to be that person. You'd have better luck if the options were grouped together as a trim level. E.g., if engine tweaks, sport suspension, rear steering, and carbon fiber trim are the "S" model, then fleet buyers and individuals will understand the comps better.

  • agentorange agentorange Posts:

    "You'd have better luck if the options were grouped together as a trim level." But then the original buyers gets dicked paying for stuff he/she did not ask for just to get what they want. These kinds of option packages have had me walking away from deals. Perfect case with a 4x4 SUV that I wanted with a LSD. Dealer tapped on the computer and said "$1200, Sir" WTH? Is it gold plated. "No it comes as a package with a sunroof". Wrong answer as I largely detest sunroofs, and doubly so when somebody wants to force me to have one. Bag. That. Noise.

  • quadricycle quadricycle Posts:

    @agentorange: I'm the exact same way. I know what I want, and surprisingly enough I know the things that I don't want. Now bundling packages so that I actually have to get the things I don't want in order to get the things I do, and paying more for it get

  • greenpony greenpony Posts:

    If the problem is that the car is "too new" to be in their computer systems yet, why not just keep it for another 12 month tour?

  • I have a bad feeling that despite the overall greatness of this car, it isn't selling all that well. We got ours at a major discount in June and they are still offering strong rebate incentives on the new GS. That's probably not doing you guys any favors when trying to sell it (well, that and the high mileage). Glad we leased ours. It really is a shame because this GS 350 F-sSport is simply the best car I've ever owned (and I've had two G37's, an IS 350, and a TSX)...

  • legacygt legacygt Posts:

    Really disappointing for a Lexus. My parents got a prior generation 3 years old with 8,000 miles for $38 a couple years ago. Some observations: The fact that the car is too new for systems to reflect the options doesn't really sound like an explanation. If it's selling at $39K with these options then, once the systems are updated, they will reflect the actual sales at $39K The systems aren't going to magically inflate transaction prices. Then there's the line "my customers don't shop specifications." This may be true but I wouldn't call it honest. You can bet that the minute this car gets cleaned up and certified, the sales team is going to be touting it's "F-Sport Package" and "tons of options" to anyone who walks in the door.

  • rat73 rat73 Posts:

    Edmunds TMVs are WAY off. Recently sold the wife's car. Priced it at TMV/KBB (basically same number). Long story short, CarMax offered 25% less than TMV. Ended up selling it for only $1k more than CarMax after A LOT of hassle. Was not worth it. Think some of you all are missing the point on the resale of this car. People buy cars by model years. This is a 2013 car being sold in the year 2013. The 2013 new cars are still on the lot. No one cares Edmunds has had it a year. I had to sell a car once under the same circumstances and got beat up just like Edmunds did. And the "Frankenstein" thing is real to anyone who has ever bought or sold any number of cars. You never get proportional money back on specialized options. This car was sold under the complete worst conditions for getting value. As other posters have hinted if you kept it another year you would probably get the same $40k. Expect normally equipped GSs to depreciate 50% in five years, just like they always have. Some of you all a gloating about this being some kind of sign about Lexus. Give it up. You probably said Lexus would fail in 1989 and haven't changed your tune yet.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    "As other posters have hinted if you kept it another year you would probably get the same $40k" I seriously doubt that. Also, selling a Lexus in what is probably one of the strongest Lexus markets (along with south Florida) in the country is "complete worst conditions for getting value"? C'mon. This is a nice car, but it's not a luxury Lexus, it's a performance Lexus, and they still don't have performance cred compared to cars (BMW, Audi, Merc, Infiniti) that it will be compared to. Also it kind of falls into a performance hole in that it's not that much faster than the turbo-four Audis and BMWs, but nowhere near as fast as the turbo-six models.

  • And this is why getting a new luxury car is often a losing battle...

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