- Limited inventories are making it harder to find vehicles on dealer lots.
- These vehicles don't stay on dealer lots for long.
- You might want to make friends with your local dealer if you want a chance at buying one.
You'll Have a Hard Time Finding These Cars on a Dealer Lot
You might have to special order a Hyundai Sonata Hybrid or Subaru Crosstrek
Shoppers in the market for a new car have been dealt with a double whammy of bad news — not only are dealer markups common, but inventory is seriously constrained. We've written about above-sticker price tags before, so let's shed some light on hard-to-find new vehicles.
To understand which cars are the hardest to find on a dealer lot, we'll use a metric called days to turn. This figure measures the number of days that pass between when a vehicle is delivered to a dealer and when it sells to a buyer. An Edmunds report from 2016 illustrates the days to turn for several popular manufacturers over a 13-month period. That report shows the automaker with vehicles that spent the least time on a dealer lot was Subaru, with vehicles spending as little as an average of 20 days on a lot before being sold.
That days-to-turn figure is a lot lower today — kickstarted by the global inventory shortage and revved up (at least for hybrids, plug-in hybrids and electrics) by rising fuel costs.
These are the 10 vehicles with the shortest days-to-turn figures as of April 2022, meaning they'll be the most difficult to find on a dealer lot.
It's hard to find these cars on a dealer lot.
NOTE: In addition to noting days to turn for each of these vehicles, we've also noted the average markup we're seeing on each vehicle. This average markup figure represents the final transaction price minus the manufacturer's suggested retail price, or MSRP. The markup can include anything from required dealer-installed add-ons to a bare market adjustment, as well as the amount that a customer negotiates off the top for the vehicle.
2022 Hyundai Elantra.
10. Hyundai Elantra
Days to turn (DTT): 9.24
Average markup: $1,129
The Elantra isn't Hyundai's least expensive sedan, but it does have more features and offers a superior driving experience when compared to the entry-level Accent. The newest Elantra, which was redesigned just last year, looks sharp, too, which helps distinguish it from other compact four-doors.
9. Toyota RAV4
Average markup: $1,310
We aren't talking about the fuel-sipping RAV4 Hybrid or RAV4 Prime plug-in (though we'll mention the latter below); the gas-only RAV4 is one of the hardest new cars to find on a dealer lot. That isn't too surprising — Toyota's compact crossover is consistently one of the top-selling vehicles of the year.
8. Honda CR-V Hybrid
Average markup: $1,800
We understand why somebody would want a CR-V Hybrid. You take the many inherent strengths of the CR-V, add a fuel-efficient powertrain, and boom — instant hit. The thing is, we haven't found it to be as efficient in real life as the EPA says it is. Though it achieves 38 mpg on the EPA's combined cycle, we saw only 29.6 mpg overall during our long-term test of a 2021 CR-V Hybrid.
2021 Honda Insight.
7. Honda Insight
Average markup: $1,480
Buyers have slept on the Insight for years, but spiking gas prices have renewed interest in the compact sedan in what should be the Insight's final year. The Insight is essentially a previous-generation Civic underneath, though it features a hybrid powertrain and a newer media system. The ties between Civic and Insight will be made more clear soon enough, when the Insight is replaced by the Civic Hybrid.
6. Subaru Crosstrek
Average markup: $597
The Subaru Crosstrek is the Swiss Army knife of automobiles. It's more capable off-road than many other crossovers thanks to its comparatively tall ride height, standard all-wheel drive and low-traction driving modes. The Crosstrek is also smaller than Subaru's Forester, so parking is easy, and its engines are pretty fuel-efficient too.
5. BMW X4
Average markup: $244
Need an SUV but don't like the boxy aesthetics? BMW essentially created the crossover coupe when it debuted the X6 in 2008, but it's the X6's smaller sibling, the X4, that's hard to find on dealer lots these days. The BMW X4 is virtually the same as the X3 compact crossover, though the roof is chopped in the back. This gives the X4 a swoopy rear end that gives it a unique aesthetic at the expense of rear headroom and cargo space.
2022 Hyundai Tucson Plug-In Hybrid.
4. Hyundai Tucson Plug-In Hybrid
Average markup: $2,323
Customers prefer SUVs over sedans, and alternative fuel vehicles are extremely hot right now in the face of $5-plus per gallon of gasoline. The 2022 Hyundai Tucson Plug-In Hybrid lives at that intersection, so demand (and dealer markups) are both appropriately high. Of note is its impressive all-electric range; you can travel about 33 miles on a full charge before the gas engine kicks on.
3. Subaru BRZ
Average markup: $316
The Subaru BRZ is a pretty specialized sports car — the back seat is essentially useless, and the long doors and low ride make getting in and out a challenge — but it's also terrifically fun to drive even when you're not shifting at redline. This diminutive two-door is also new for 2022 and improved over its predecessor. Enthusiasts have been rushing to dealers to take ownership of the latest sporty two-door from Subaru.
2. Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
Average markup: $1,664
With a spacious interior, a supremely comfortable ride, and a long list of standard and available features, it's no wonder that the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is one of our favorite hybrids on the market. This newest model is so good, we consider it a draw when cross-shopping against the Honda Accord Hybrid — something that couldn't be said about the previous version. Like the other hybrids listed here, the Sonata's dealer markup is generally higher than for non-electrified cars and SUVs.
2022 Subaru WRX.
1. Subaru WRX
Average markup: $595
The hottest new car on sale is the Subaru WRX. On average, it spends less than a week on dealer lots before a lucky buyer scoops it up. Like its BRZ stablemate, the WRX was redesigned for 2022 and has its own hardcore fanbase. Highlights of this sport sedan include rapid acceleration, composed handling and, of course, an available manual transmission.
But I can't seem to find [x] on a dealer lot, either!
We've seen anecdotal evidence that there are other vehicles not on this list that are extremely hard to find, including the Toyota Prius Prime and RAV4 Prime models, Kia Telluride, Infiniti QX60, Hyundai Kona Electric and, of course, brand-new models like the BMW i4 and X4 that simply haven't made their way to dealer lots yet in large numbers.
The reason those in-demand cars don't appear on this list are typically because our sample size was too small; not enough new i4s and iXs were sold over the last month or so for us to get a solid read on their days-to-turn figure. Other vehicles might have such high demand that dealers place significant markups and are willing to wait a little longer for the right buyer to show up, thereby increasing DTT.
These 11 sedans, coupes and SUVs are going to be the hardest to find waiting on a dealer lot. Our advice? Place an order if you're sure it's the one you want, then pick it up as soon as it's delivered.