Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), also known as "sticker" price, is a recommended selling price that automakers give a new car that is above the invoice price paid by the dealer. It is a price that does not include any options that can be added to a particular car style. When shown as a range, the prices are starting MSRPs, without options, for multiple styles for that model.
This price range reflects the Kelley Blue Book Suggested Retail value for all trim levels, but not necessarily all available options.
The Kelley Blue Book Suggested Retail value represents the amount an auto dealer might ask for a specific vehicle; the actual sale price will vary. A vehicle's popularity, condition, warranty, color and local market conditions are factors involved in determining a final price. The retail value is not a trade-in or private party value.
The Suggested Retail value assumes that the vehicle has been fully reconditioned and has a clean title history. The Suggested Retail value also allows for advertising, sales commissions, insurance and other costs of doing business as a dealer. Most vehicles offered at this price have passed an inspection, and some may carry a warranty. Vehicle mileage is assumed to be normal or below normal.
Best Bets get above-average mpg, class-average or better reliability, class-average or better crash-test ratings, and our recommendation.
Expert Reviews 3 of 4
By Royal Ford
January 3, 2004
Volkswagen Phaeton is nice, but at that price? Here is a car that won't fly. Literally and mythologically. Always fascinated from whence Volkswagen extracts its names (Touareg, Golf, Jetta), I opened my Merriam Webster's Collegiate
Dictionary to look up Phaeton, and came up with this: "A son of Helios who drives his father's sun-chariot through the sky but loses control." Ah, teenagers. Now keep in mind that Volkswagen means, quite literally, "Peoples' Car." My first
car was, in fact, a Volkswagen -- 1958, convertible, painted red with a roller by previous owner. Paid $90 for it. Which brings me to this latest Peoples' Car from VW, the Phaeton -- at a price that is precisely $73,267 higher than I paid for my VW.
The question is "Why?" Not that this is not a beautiful, luxurious, and elegant automobile. But who's going to plop down $74,000 for a Peoples' Car? Walk around it and you think Audi. Long, sleek, subtle (except for the vibrant VW badging). Sit
inside and you think Audi/Mercedes/Lexus. Porsche crossed borders with the Cayenne SUV (and VW went with them in fine form with its Touareg SUV), but as Bill Parcells used to say when he coached the Patriots, "You are what you are," and VW is not the
builder of hyper-expensive, hyper-luxurious automobiles. They are sanding across the grain with this one. Inside, it's full of luxury. Outstanding stiff leather upholstery, wood strips that trisect the dash. Of course, it's a bit over the top
with all the controls that come at you through a center-pod screen, and many of its control buttons are tiny. And why zero AM radio reception? You're so rich you don't listen to Eddie Andelman? And yet I loved the car, for the most part. At
just under $74,000, I was relegated to the lesser model -- a V-8 as opposed to the W-12 (two V-6s set in the same block). The V-8 gave me 335 horses to saddle, which sounds like a lot until you consider that this rig weighs more than 5,000 pounds (unlike
comparable aluminum-clad Audi competitors that come in at nearly a half-ton lighter). Interior room, as befits a stretched body of this sort, is ample. Great leg room upfront, huge leg room for rear seat passengers a la limo. On the road it
was just OK. Plenty of power, yet not what you'd call zippy. Disconcerting was a thumpiness in the suspension on bad roads. Its all-wheel-drive system, straight out of Audi-land, was great when the sledding got slippery, but that suspension
was a stiff reminder that winter's here -- more knowledge than I want in a car that costs this much. The trunk is huge, the controls on the dash a netherworld of technology, the trunk lid, operated remotely or with the push of a button -- no hands
ever needed to lift or close -- a technological wonder. Yet the question kept returning: "Why?"
I understand fully that automobile manufacturers, particularly those of limited -- if great -- offerings, must branch out to survive. VW, in developing the Touareg, followed suit in fine order, and that I get. If you do not have an SUV in your line
today, you are not a major manufacturer. But a $74,000 Volkswagen? Coming from a family of stone cutters and carpenters, I know this one thing: You do not sand across the grain. And I know that, even in 2004 dollars, $90 is a long way from $74,000.