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Base price

Base price is a money term you need to understand. Here’s what it means.

What is a base price?

The base price of a vehicle refers to how much it costs without any extra options that are added when the car is ordered from the dealership. It includes standard equipment and the manufacturer’s warranty, but it’s before any fees — like those for shipping — are applied.

Deeper definition

The base price is listed on the vehicle’s Monroney sticker, which by law dealers must attached to every car they sell. It differs from the MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price) or sticker price, which is what the vehicle costs after the dealer adds options and any fees charged when a customer buys a car.

Typically, the base price is the lowest amount that a buyer will pay for that vehicle. It’s often the amount listed in advertisements and in car-buying guides.

However, few people buy a vehicle for the base price. Most add a few thousand dollars in options. In addition, purchase fees are added when someone buys a car that can range from a few hundred dollars to more than a thousand.

To determine what features come with the car at the base price, refer to the Monroney sticker, which lists every feature that’s standard on the vehicle. It also shows how much each option adds to the base price.

Some stickers list features as a trim package instead of individually. The base price also may refer to the least expensive trim package that a buyer can get with the vehicle.

Base price example

Chuck went car shopping at a local dealership and say a car he liked with a base price of $25,000. But, then he added leather interior and a sunroof for the summers and heated seats for the winters. By adding these options, he boosted the price of the car by $1,500.

When he read over the purchase contract to buy the vehicle, he saw that fees, including sales tax, registration and shipping fees, had been added. The final total was $27,500.


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