By on August 10, 2015

2015 Expedition Incentives

In my recent test of the 2015 Ford Expedition, I wanted to give a sense of real-word pricing rather than just MSRP, so I quoted TrueCar’s estimate of the average discount available on the vehicle. I had planned to quote available cash and lease incentives direct from Ford’s website, but after 15 minutes of research my head started hurting and the story would have been longer than DeadWeight’s diatribes on what’s wrong with Cadillac.

So let’s take a separate look at the quagmire of incentives that Ford offers you to buy an Expedition. Before you click the jump, do you know the expansion of the above acronym “RCL” ?

There’s no doubt 99 percent of the B&B know the correct answer is “Red Carpet Lease.” So does the RCL Customer Cash incentive mean Ford will throw $3,750 in trunk money if you lease? The answer is a definite, absolute maybe. The “S3” asterisk leads to legal mumbo-jumbo, not an explanation of the offer. Nowhere on Ford’s website are details published of the $3,750 lease money or the definition of “RCL.” 

The fine print says, “See dealer for residency restrictions and complete details.” Attention Ford: customers go to your website so they don’t have to go to the dealership to learn about your products and offers.

And don’t get me started on Ford using industry lingo like “RCL.” I have tried to pound this Advertising 101 principle into dealers’ heads for years: Speak in the consumer’s language and not your own. I cringe when I see the phrase “brass hat car” or similar without explanation in a dealership’s promos. You would think Ford and other automakers would know better.

Let’s dive deeper. After building your Expedition, you can click on “Get Local Offers”:


It says you may receive 72-month, 0% APR financing or $2,750 in trunk money, but the fine print points out the cash is a combination of $1,500 in Customer Cash, $750 in Competitive Lease Conquest and $500 in Ford Credit Bonus Cash. So you would need a leased vehicle in your driveway and finance the Expedition through Ford Credit to get the full $2,750. Nowhere in the fine print does it say you have to trade in your leased vehicle. The competitive model set is identified as all non-Ford products, so your leased Mini counts as a competitor to the Expedition.

But where is my $3,750 in RCL cash? Look under Lease Offers link and you find: “Please contact your local dealer for the latest information on our current lease offers.” (We are not telling you this again!)

The remaining offer buttons show an eye chart of which incentives may be combined and an additional $500 Military Appreciation Bonus Cash offer for active military members only, the latter mentioned in the fine print of many Ford dealers’ ads in font far smaller the their “$XXXX DISCOUNT” headline.

Bottom line: the maximum cash incentive available is $3,250 for military members and $2,750 for non-military if you meet all the requirements. Walk into a Ford dealer to ask the average salesperson about the $3,750 offer and I am sure they can fill you in on the details: “Dunno, but if I get you $3,750 off, will you buy today?”

Stair_Step_Ad_09-10-12 Courtesy lack of transparency by Ford on their lease deals may be a case of cowtowing to their dealers as the retailers hate factory-advertised lease specials. The exact configuration of the featured vehicle is rarely available and the deal structure needed to hit the payment not only cuts the dealers’ margin on the sale of the car but also mandates a low money factor and a non-marked up lease acquisition fee so the store’s profit is limited in three areas.

Let us leave you with one more example of the strange world of Ford incentives: there is $500 cash available on the Explorer (but not the Expedition) for current police officials called the “2015 Police Association IUPA and NAPO Appreciation Program.” I am all about supporting our LEOs, but should anyone of a certain occupation get a better deal than other people?

Advertised incentives are only the fin of the shark: most carmakers have a wide range of confidential factory-to-dealer cash programs, some based upon a dealership hitting a specific sales objective. These so-called “Stair-Step” incentives create in theory the situation where one dealer could offer a deeper discount than another. The information on quiet cash programs is as hidden as Hillary’s emails, but among the B&B are many automotive retail folks who will be glad to tell us some incentive horror stories, right?

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28 Comments on “Case Study of Incentives: 2015 Ford Expedition...”

  • avatar

    “Speak in the consumer’s language and not your own.”

    Please tell that to the TSA.

    The last time I went through the Pre-check lane I got through the metal detector fine but a few steps later I heard a loud single beep:

    “Sir, you coded. You’ll need to go back and enter the body scanner.”

    “But I made it through your metal detector.”

    “Sir, you coded. Please step back and enter the other line for the body scanner!”

    “WTF? I never coded… I had a bypass just in time!”

    • 0 avatar

      Well, sticking to cars, I remember watching a commercial in which the voice over intoned, “Here’s a nice, clean unit.” I thought it was a car commercial, but they were selling “units”. Just because the dealer’s accountant has the nicest voice doesn’t mean the dealer should let him write the ad copy.

  • avatar

    What type of hitch do you recommend for cowtowing?

  • avatar

    O god. Shame on you Steve, for validating DW’s existence. I can smell the smoke and broken plastic flying off of his poor, poor keyboard as he pounds away with glee.

    “They like me! They really really like me!”

    Heaven help us.

  • avatar

    All the big automakers employ people whose prime job is to make up all these mazes, with a dozen dead-ends for normal people. That way, you can advertise savings without giving anything away. Unless you are a one-eyed, one-toed sloth with past military service, just graduated from a recognized academy of higher learning, have owned the make in the past twelve months, run the local scout troop and don’t qualify for any other equally stupid come-on, you may save a buck or two provided your FICO score is above 800 and purchase on a Saturday morning in the last two weeks of the month.

    It’s like buying a certain make of canned corn you don’t particularly like because you have a 25 cent-off coupon. If you fall for this marketing stuff, remember they only give away the stinkers, unless it’s some nationally advertised plan that applies to every vehicle.

    I realize that some people cannot sit still if they detect the odor of a freebie, and thus obsess over this stuff – ding, ding, the marketers have got you where they want you. Most sensible people manage to occupy their days in a more rational way.

    • 0 avatar

      I once had a job where I was asked to create a program to be used to calculate the financial set-aside needed for a volume rebate program for medical supplies. The volume rebate rules were insanely complicated, and when I asked the sales boss why they wanted such a complex program he told me that when a competitor went to one of our customers and asked what we were charging him for those supplies, we didn’t want the customer to be able to answer since this would enable the competitor to under price us. I wondered (to myself) why the customer wouldn’t be really troubled when this happened.

  • avatar

    It’s kind of funny that an article talking about how dealers shouldn’t use industry terms uses B&B, whatever that is.

    Bed and Breakfast?
    Bread and Butter?
    Beer and Bourbon?
    Beef and bacon?
    Buick and Bentley?

    • 0 avatar

      Best & Brightest – term used to describe members of this site who tend to know more about vehicles then your average person.

      • 0 avatar

        I really hate that term. It’s so damned self-congratulatory. And, frankly, while we may be, as a whole, above average with respect to car knowledge, don’t you think that there are a whole lot of “brighter” people out there?

        • 0 avatar

          It’s amusing because the coinage of the term in popular use is from David Halberstram’s book of the same name and was meant ironically. It was about the people that thought they were smarter than they were that engineered the US’ involvement in Vietnam.

          So if you don’t like the self-congratulatory nature of it you can smirk every time you see it being used knowing it probably is a better description than the people using it even realize.

        • 0 avatar

          It’s used just as much sarcastically as it is sincerely.

        • 0 avatar
          Dave M.

          Apparently not. Personally I like my fridge ribbon. Let me bask in my mediocrity+.

  • avatar

    Last time I utilized the competative lease case the conversation went like this:

    dealer: do you lease a car through another manufacturer?
    Me: Yes
    dealer: good, you get another $750 off.

    They never asked for proof or to even see the other car we had in the driveway. We were not trading it on the new vehicle.

    • 0 avatar

      When I bought my Hyundai last October there was a $500 or $750 extra spiff for owners of competitive vehicles that, surprisingly, consisted of a set of makes less than “anything not Hyundai/Kia.” My Dodge Ram didn’t qualify, nor did the borrowed Chrysler minivan I drove to the dealership. My wife’s 2006 Honda Odyssey, however, got the dough. While I wasn’t trading it in they did require that I bring the title by when I took delivery. They didn’t boomerang me, so either it went through or my last-day-of-month purchase let them hit their super secret factory-dealer spiff and they ate the extra rebate.

  • avatar

    I recently was in the market for an expedition and finally purchased a new lincoln navigator 4×4 L. In months of test drives and price shopping. I found that truecar is no longer the best deal like it was 3 years ago. Best pricing can be found on kelly blue book web site and look up fair purchase price, recent sales prices, and lowest transaction prices. We negotiated everything over email and phone with the sales manager. I requested $900 below dealer invoice because we read that lincoln changed their holdback model a few years ago. Now, holdback is between 1.5 and 3.5 percent depending on how many high customer service scores they get from buyers. I calculated that their holdback is roughly $1,750 so we ended up splitting that. They also delivered the car and picked up my trade in and drove it away with me living over 2 hours drive from them. We were happy.

    Just wanted to point out that truecar is not a good price anymore. Its average at best.

  • avatar

    The opacity of lease terms is the primary reason why I buy instead of lease, despite that I usually end up swapping out vehicles every 2-3 years (which would seem to make me an ideal candidate for leasing). The easiest way to cut through the BS surrounding leasing and financing is to write a check instead.

  • avatar

    What I hate most about mfg advertising is they really have no way to add tax as it varies by state. Even if I have everything else lined up and I cut all the fat, your $199 payment is $217 here in Pa where we have a 6% sales tax plus 3% lease. If a customer demands it that’s $612 out of profit, and on these cheaper cars, that is a huge chunk. It’s like advertising cars that don’t include tires, you know you’ll have to put them on every deal and eat the cost 99% of the time.

    I don’t make any more money on my lease vehicles than I do on sold. For my repeat customers I show them the invoice and incentives and then we get right to the point of payments. Could they save a few hundred bucks by shopping? No more than if they just ask me to take a few hundred off. Most people just appreciate the honesty and my trying to make a structure that works for them lease or buy. I haven’t gotten rich yet, but if I keep treating people right I’ll be just fine living off holdback. If you insist on going to a new dealership every time then it can be hard/impossible to know you got a good deal even if the price you paid for the vehicle seems less than everyone elses. I don’t even try to memorize incentives, I look them up each time for each deal and each vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      You’re one of the good ones. There’s a few out there I’ve discovered. Congrats, and I hope you continue making a strong living serving customers honestly.

  • avatar

    “should anyone of a certain occupation get a better deal than other people?”

    all occupations matter!

    why should recent grads? why should military?

    why the hell do you care? if ford wants to give a special deal to farmers or nurses or refuse haulers by all means that is the corporation’s choice… the only people that should care are shareholders and i am sure ford will argue it brings in sales; probably of people who (i suspect) have secure jobs and above average credit scores (less likely to default); just guessing that is why they target them in the first place…

    anyway… leasing has always interested me but i have never been able to find anyone, including people who have leased numerous times, who can tell me everything i want to know about leasing.

    it just seems so rigged (by way of confusion) towards the dealer.

  • avatar

    Ford’s incentive programs certainly are a maze. But if you can successfully navigate and monitor their programs, great savings can be achieved with the right timing. I purchased a 15 Fusion at the end of May, qualifying for $5500 off in rebates alone. It was a deal too good to refuse.

  • avatar
    formula m

    I’m looking at the programs offered for the 2015 Expedition on my desk right now. (Ontario, Canada) lease rates are 3.49% for 24&36 month leases and 4.49% on a 48 month lease. No Delivery allowance cash. ($2500 on Explorer) We have Employee pricing which in Ford lingo is X-Plan Pricing. There is also a $1000 Costco credit for members. There aren’t many ’15 Expeditions left here in Ontario so they may have not bothered to push them but leasing one isn’t very appealing for customers here in Ontario.

  • avatar

    “And don’t get me started on Ford using industry lingo like ‘RCL.’ ”

    And yet you also included this sentence in your writeup:

    “There’s no doubt 99 percent of the B&B know the correct answer is ‘Red Carpet Lease.\'”

    To the average English speaker who doesn’t spend his life living in The Truth About Cars universe (i.e. most of your readers), a “B&B” is a “bed and breakfast.”

    And you wonder why industry insiders get caught up in jargon.

    • 0 avatar

      I prefer to believe Steve was using a double layer of sarcasm. It makes me happier, and can’t be easily disproved. Same “logic” allowed me to hit on attractive ladies since the guy they were with was (until proven otherwise) her brother. Never worked immediately, but it resulted in one intro to a friend and one later date when her “brother” wasn’t watching.

  • avatar

    My one and only delve into the incentives game was when I bought my ’08 Saab 9-3SC during the ’09 Carmageddon fire sale. I thought GM/Saab was reasonably transparent about the whole thing. There were a couple oddball ones like the $750 for being a credit union member. That one really bit them, as when I went to join the CU to qualify for the rebate, they also ended up financing the car. Oops. All told, just about *$14K* in rebates and discounts on that car. Best deal ever, and it was a great car too.

    The Germans don’t generally play these games. For my BMW it was $3100 off for European Delivery, and another ~$3K off from the dealer. And $400 in surprise dealership rewards I didn’t even know about until I went in to sign my life away. No above the line factory incentives on that car at all. Had I not done ED, I could have gotten $1K off for doing one of their drive events. But I probably would have gotten much less off from the dealer as ED cars don’t come out of their allocation – they are basically “extra” sales for them.

  • avatar

    Yes I have noticed that some manufacturers are more transparent than others.

    Generally I find Dodge’s site to be pretty easy to figure out what you might qualify for and how you might qualify for it.

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