Alternate Appraisals - 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

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2013 Lexus GS 350 Research