Tips from a car sales man
1. If you walked into my office and offered me $25,545 (and I worked stateside) I'd prob haggle with you a little bit, maybe get you to settle on 26k and call it a lovely day...Why you ask? Because we are doing $2,750 off 2012 Focuses right now. So you'd actually be doing yourself a dissservice. You could prob easily get 3k maybe 3.5k if your military.
2. Even if you walked in knowing the above, and really really wanted that one particular car it'd be quite easy to get you to pay what you I want you to pay (notice I didn't say what you want to pay) because your attached to that specific vehicle. I gotta you as a sales person there is nothing more annoying then a customer who is not narrowed down to 1 or 2 vehicles. Why? Cause it's harder to close them.
Here's what you do
1. Go get pre-approved first from your local credit union for a new car loan.
2. Go to Edmunds, TMV (True Market Value) websites etc and price that car, and see what's its going for (print that out and bring it with you)
3. If your going do a trade know the value of the trade, if your current car is financed find out what you owe on it. Know that negative equity is BAD.
4. Walk into the dealership and make them give you an offer (sometimes they will offer you less then what you want)
5. If they don't offer you what your want tell them what price your willing to pay, provide proof why, make it clear your fully prepared to make this a quick, easy, painless deal
O yea make sure you test drive the car, inspect the car, etc.
If you do that it should be pretty painless, and asking for the best deal possible is not a good way to haggle. However you should see what they can offer you. Also know about all the discounts/rebates etc in your region. Shop at the end of the month too.