Where are the Best Car Deals?

best car dealsWhere are the best car deals for 2012?


Nearly every car company is currently offering incentives of some kind. Deals are actually not hard to find if you know where to look.

Some of these deals are outstanding, some very good, and others only so-so.


Luxury Brands

High-end luxury car companies, such as Porsche, AudiLand Rover, Jaguar, and Mercedes, don’t normally offer common incentives for fear of looking like a discount car brand. When they do, it’s in the form of “bonuses” or “allowances” but not “rebates.” Or it might be in the form of special leases, where the “discounting” is not so obvious.

For example, at the time of this writing, Mercedes is offering a number of very attractive lease deals across its model lines. They are also offering 1.9% APR loan deals but in these days of record-low finance rates, 1.9% is good but not really an outstanding deal, especially when it’s limited to 24-36 month loans. The lease deals are better.

Same for Infiniti, who is currently (January 2012) offering a number of very good lease deals (all $0 cash due at signing) on all 2012 models except hybrids, and 1.9% APR loans for up to 60 months (better than Mercedes). Depending on where you live, there may be deals on left-over 2011 models.

Audi currently has no incentives for January (at the time of this writing) but even those for December 2011 were not very interesting – a few mediocre lease deals in which they make the first month’s payment and waive the security deposit (who doesn’t). Not much to get excited about.

BMW actually has some outstanding lease deals going on at this time (see New BMW Lease Offers for January) and some factory-to-dealer cash on a few models that translate into purchase price discounts.

Acura offers good lease deals on one selected style within each of its model lines. These are of the $0-$0-$0 variety ($0 down, $0 first payment, $0 security deposit) and are genuinely good deals.

Lexus has no deals worth mentioning, except possibly on a few left-over last-year’s models, or certified used cars.

Land Rover has lease deals on the Ranger Rover Sport and LR4 that are only rated Good by LeaseGuide.com, as well as 1.9% APR loan rates for only 36 months. Nothing here to jump up and down about.

Non-Luxury Brands

The very best deals in 2012 will come from American car brands such as Ford, Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge, GMC, and Ram. They offered some of the best incentives in the business in 2011 and are expected to do the same or better in 2012.

The most recent deals from these American companies include generous rebates, 0% APR loans (and other low-interest loans), special lease deals (although usually not as good as foreign car brands), and factory-to-dealer cash that dealers use to discount prices. Cadillac is offering a number of good $0 down leases. Left-over 2011 models are especially good deals right now.

At this time, Honda and Toyota are offering a few good deals, especially on leases, but you’ll have to wait until they’ve fully recovered from last years disasters in Japan before you see the best deals. Honda continues to offer their popular “$0 due at signing” leases. These are genuinely good lease deals — much better than customers could negoitate for themselves.

Hyundai is coming on strong with some great deals on selected models. Their award-winning Elantra model is now being offered with a special lease deal (see Car of the Year for Only $179).

Nissan has 0% APR loan rates — for up to 60 months — on nearly every model, including 2012 and left-over 2011 models.

Subaru’s current incentives include 42-month lease deals on one style of each of its models or 1.9% APR loan rates. However, we don’t recommend 42-month leases on vehicles that only have 36-month warranties. You’re exposed for 6 months to paying for expensive out-of-warranty repairs near the end of the lease.

Mazda currently has a whole variety of new incentives including a number of moderately attractive 36 month leases with relatively low down payment requirements, a few 1.9% APR loan deals for up to 60 months, and a number of 0.0% APR loan deals that are combined with up to $1000 customer cash (rebate).

Mitsubishi is offering outstanding 24-month leases on its 2012 Lancer ES and SE ($189/month) and Lancer Sportback ES ($196/month). There are also 0% APR loan deals for up to 36 months on 2012 models and up to 60 months on 2011 models. Also available are rebates of up to $3500 on 2011 models and customer loyalty bonuses of $500. All in all, a nice set of deals from Mitsubishi.

Volkswagen usually has a nice selection of special lease deals across its model line. These are nearly always good deals and are better than customers could negotiate for themselves. They also offer a number of 0% APR loans for up to 72 months, which is a bit unusual.

Saab, the car company, has filed bankruptcy but dealers still have left-over vehicles at low, low prices.

Fiat has announced new $0 down leases its 500 and 500c models.

Deals Can Change

As you probably already know, car deals and incentives can (and usually do) change month-to-month, and sometimes week-to-week. Deals can vary depending on the region of the country you live in and can differ by dealer.

One of the best ways to know exactly what deals are best in your area is to use an online service such as TrueCar that not only shows you what local people are paying for specific car makes and models, but also the lowest price you should expect to pay, factoring in all current incentives. It’s free and they give you a guaranteed price quote that will be honored at local dealers.


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