Consumer Reports Says Your New Car May Not Have All the Features You Want and Here’s Why

Buying a new car in our current market is complicated. The chip shortage and other supply chain issues have seriously limited our pick of new vehicles. However, the second part of this car shortage might be even worse. If you are lucky enough to find the make and model vehicle you wanted, the odds of having the new car features you wanted are even slimmer than finding the model in the first place, says Consumer Reports. 

A Ford factory parking lot empty where Ford production stopped.
Empty Ford factory parking lot | Getty Images

Is the car shortage still happening? 

It is. But, more specifically, OEMs are building more lower-trim models with fewer bells and whistles instead of waiting and further delaying production for more features. Two of the biggest issues in the market are a shortage of parts and price increases for raw materials. 

Consumer Reports says, “Manufacturers like Ford, GM, and BMW are reportedly cutting features, delaying production, and even raising prices in response.” As a result, customers are left waiting over a year for the car they want with their chosen features or leaving the dealer with a new car that isn’t really what they wanted; It’s no catastrophe, but it’s not all that fun either. 

This lack of parts came at the same time that COVID measures drove a spike in car demand. This created the perfect storm of too many customers and not enough inventory. And if the pandemic shutdowns weren’t enough, a slew of natural disasters battered key shipping routes and factories. Lastly, Canada’s most recent COVID strike has only added fuel to the already blazing conflagration. 

How does the chip shortage affect new car features? 

A blue 2022 Chevy Silverado ZR2 is a better buy than the Ford Raptor or Ram TRX pickup trucks
2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 | Chevrolet

Since automakers are still struggling to source enough semiconductor chips, they have begun rationing them. Here, rationing chips means cutting some luxury features that require more chips, like heated seats and high-fi audio systems. CR says that GM is even shipping cars without some rear parking sensors and even some of the newer fuel-saving tech on big trucks. 

Even luxury car brands like BMW and Audi cut lux features like wireless charging on some models. For example, Consumer Reports bought a 2022 BMW 230i for its own testing program. It came in missing satellite radio, listed as “XM Delete.” Consumer Reports said when they reached out to ask if this was attributed to the chip shortage, Jay Hanson, a BMW spokesman, told them that” due to the worldwide semiconductor shortage affecting the entire automotive industry, there may be some limitations on the availability of certain optional equipment.” 

Are car prices still rising? 

Since cars take much longer to build and deliver than normal, car prices are rising to offset the lack of inventory. We have seen plenty of news stories of dealers sending prices far beyond a model’s MSRP

This has become enough of a problem that some OEMs have threatened greedy dealers with everything from reduced allocations for desired models like the Ford Bronco to legal action. 

Is now a bad time to buy a new car?

The short answer is yes. Consumer Reports and MotorBiscuit both recommend that you try not to overpay as a result of being taken advantage of by dealers. As far as features go, Daniel Blinn, managing attorney at Consumer Law Group, recommends that buyers double-check the order sheet. If a car doesn’t show up the way a customer ordered it, they aren’t stuck with it. 

“If the vehicle does not conform to the description in the contract, the consumer has the right to reject the vehicle and obtain a refund,” Blinn says.  

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. CR does offer one consolation to all this negativity in the car market; the wait times can be used as leverage for negotiations. Jake Fisher, senior director of CR’s auto test center, says, “If you paid for one thing, but you’re getting something less, that is a negotiating opportunity.”

This isn’t a guarantee, of course. But there is no reason to leave any money or added extras on the table. In the words of today’s youth, “shooters shoot.” We know not everyone has the luxury of waiting a few years for a new ride, but patience is the best tool any car shopper can have these days. Good luck out there.

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