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Invoice Price (or "Dealer Cost")

Mark Holthoff
posted this on May 21, 2013 10:42 AM

Invoice price (sometimes referred to as "dealer cost") is the price that appears on the invoice that the manufacturer sends to the dealer when the dealer receives a car from the factory.

Please note, however, that this price is almost always higher than the amount the dealer actually ends up paying to the manufacturer. This results from a variety of discounts offered to the dealer that do not appear on the invoice. The two most common discounts are Dealer Holdback and Dealer Cash Incentives, and there are others that may be based on factors such as a dealer's sales volume for a particular month.

Also note that the invoice price does not reflect any manufacturer-to-consumer rebates, the destination charge or the tax, title, license, advertising or registration fees. For more on such fees, please see What Fees Should You Pay?

Sometimes the amount quoted as the invoice price includes the destination charge and sometimes it does not, so look closely. On, we always make that clear.

In the end, determining a dealer's actual net cost is difficult even for seasoned automotive insiders. This is why we developed the True Market Value pricing system, which is our determination of what other consumers are actually paying for a vehicle. TMV accounts for the effect of all of the manufacturer's extra charges as well as the dealer's hidden subsidies, and we believe it is the most important price to know when negotiating your purchase.

How to Find Invoice Prices

To find the invoice price for a vehicle, select the Make, Model, and Year you're interested in using the drop-down menus at the top of any page:


Selecting a Make, Model and Year takes you to the main page for that car, showing photos, local inventory, reviews, pricing, specifications, etc.

Next, scroll down to the What Others are Paying area to see pricing for the car without any options:


To get the most accurate pricing, click the blue Build Your Own button and then select the exact trim, color and options of the car you're researching. At the end of that process, you will arrive at a customized report of its MSRP, Invoice Price and True Market Value.

Invoice Price Discrepancies

Invoice prices on our site always match the price listed in a booklet prepared by the vehicle manufacturer and distributed to its dealers commonly known as the "dealer order guide"; however, an individual dealer may add additional items such as advertising fees. (For more on dealer fees, see What Fees Should You Pay?)

Please note when comparing invoice prices that it's important to ensure the vehicles' styles and options are an exact match. For example, the invoice price of a Ford Fusion SPORT FWD (front-wheel drive) will be slightly less than the Ford Fusion SPORT AWD (all-wheel drive).

Also, regional pricing differences can be the cause of a discrepancy. For example, in the South and Southeast, large independent distributors control the pricing of Toyota vehicles, and they may set prices at different levels than those established by Toyota for the rest of the country. Similarly, in the Northeast, an independent company distributes Subaru vehicles and can influence pricing in that region.