The recession is over, they tell us. It's time to start spending again.
Yet somehow, we aren't. Frugal trends that set in when the bad news was bearing down on us like a speeding semi in our rear-view mirror are still with us -- and nowhere is this more visible than in the automotive market. Americans have pulled back from buying some of the most extravagant cars on the market -- so much so that prices are dropping.
Our pricing partners at TrueCar.com track the average transaction price for more than 300 models of car, truck, and SUV nationwide -- and they let us know when they're dropping. This month, there's an unusual pattern showing up -- the five cars that saw the biggest price drop from August to September are all luxury cars.
2010 Mercedes-Benz S-ClassEnlarge Photo
30-day price drop: $1,921
The flagship of the world's largest automaker isn't slipping for lack of quality. It's every bit as sumptuous as you'd imagine, and built to exacting standards. It's available with a variety of powertrains, from a hybrid featuring the first functioing lithium-ion battery on the road to the asphalt-rippling V12 in the S63. And while we can't say it fits into any budget, it's quite customizable considering the ultra-luxury company it keeps, with a price tag ranging from about $80,000 to near $200,000. Yet the S-Class saw the biggest average transaction price drop of any car last month -- buyers paid nearly $2k less than they had just a month before.
2010 Mercedes-Benz C-ClassEnlarge Photo
30-day price drop: $1,406
Mercedes-Benz dealers can't be happy with the way this list is turning out so far. Their most expensive sedan came in first, and their least expensive (in the U.S., at least, where the B- and A-Class cars are still just a rumor) places as well. The C-Class has bever quite been the performance equal of the BMW 3-Series or Audi A4, but it can hold its own in track testing with nearly any entry-level sport sedan. Some of us think it outshines them in the parking lot, thanks to its aggressive character lines and huge, sharp grille. And the interior is all Mercedes, with some of the most comfortable seats in the busines. Yet the final price of the average C-Class sold dropped by over $1,400 last month -- and a $1,400 price change on the C-Class matters a lot more than a $2,000 price drop on its S-Class big brother.