As the days wind down towards the end of the month -- and the end of the year -- automobile salespeople and dealerships across the country are monitoring their inventory, hoping to make it disappear. Black Friday shopping deals are behind us, but dealerships and their sales staff are extremely anxious to sell anything they can to help ensure they'll receive their month- and year-end bonuses.
In this competitive marketplace, every manufacturer is striving to sell every vehicle possible, and incentives are just one way to make that happen. "November marked the third straight month of total market share gains... Our goal is to sell as much as we possibly can and drive a trend in the right direction," says Susan Docherty, General Motors Vice President of Sales, Service and Marketing.
With just a few weeks left before 2010, dealers are eager to clear their stock of 2009 models, and they will entice buyers by offering hefty discounts in the form of cash-back rebates and low- or no-interest loans on most new vehicles. Some dealers may even offer discounts to avoid paying tax on excess inventory at year end.
To get the best value, the experts at KBB.com, the leading provider of new- and used-vehicle information, suggest you learn more about the vehicles you're interested in purchasing and narrow down your shopping list ahead of time. Also, KBB.com suggests you know your price range before you step into the dealership, and points consumers to the KBB.com New Car Buying Guide, which provides plenty of pricing information, such as invoice, MSRP and New Car Blue Book value. Additionally, look beyond the sticker price and consider how that vehicle will hold its value once you drive it off the lot. "Depreciation often is the greatest expense incurred by drivers during the first five years of vehicle ownership," says KBB.com, "so choosing a vehicle that retains its value better than others is important in keeping your total ownership cost low."
Once you've narrowed down your list and have your price range and desired vehicles in mind, the next step is to do some pre-shopping research on manufacturer sales incentives to assist you in making your final decision. The following links will help you skim the manufacturer's sales incentive sites; be aware that some deals are regional, and that the amount of money you could save depends on how well a vehicle is selling, so don't expect big discounts on popular models that are already in high demand.
Finally, be aware that some manufacturers may offer special programs for recent college grads or active or reserve members of the military. Some dealerships may offer loyalty discounts if you have made previous purchases with them, and others may offer first-time discounts to conquest buyers who are coming in from a different brand. These deals are rarely advertised and can sometimes be combined with other offers, so be sure to ask your salesperson if these might apply to you.
Acura and Honda tend to not offer cash-back rebates, however, Happy Honda Days are here, and some Honda dealerships are offering such incentives as lease deals and lowered APRs, with financing as low as 0.9% to 1.9% APR for up to 36 months or 1.9% to 2.9% up to 60 months on selected models. See Acura models, Honda vehicles.
BMW is wrapping up its BMW Joy Sales Event on January 4, offering 3.9% to 4.9 APR rates, up to $2,500 holiday finance credit, and free maintenance on new car purchases for four years or 50,000 miles. Participating Mini http://miniusa.com/#/financialServices-m dealers are offering 1.9% APR financing for 60 months or 2.9% from 48 to 60 months on 2010 Clubman as well as no-cost maintenance for three years/36,000 miles. See all BMWs in our BMW vehicle guide.
Ford dealers are participating in a Year End Sales Event through January 4, which offers 0% APR financing plus $1000 cash back on many models. Click for Ford vehicle specs and pricing.
Dodge is participating in a Year End Wrap Up sales event that offers incentives and cash rebates based on specific models and your geographic location. See all Dodge models and pricing.
General Motors is offering Winter Savings incentives through January 4, 2010, on its Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC brands, with 0% APR for 72 months or cash-back bonuses of up to $4000 on select 2009 models.
Hyundai is offering Holiday savings of 0% APR up to 60 months and no payments for 90 days on 2010 Sonata, or either $2500 or $3000 cash back on the 2009 Santa Fe or Sonata, respectively. Reearch all Hyundai models for features and pricing.
Kia Motors is offering 0% financing and from $1000 to $5000 cash back on selected models through January 4. Kia models with pricing and specs are detailed here.
Lincoln and Mercury dealers are participating in a Wish List Sales Event through January 4 that offers 0% financing from 36 to 60 months plus $1000 to $4000 off specific models. See Lincoln models, and research Mercury models too.
Mercedes-Benz is offering 1.9% to 3.9% APR financing for 24 to 36 months on certain 2010 models. Those who purchase or lease a Mercedes-Benz before March 31, 2010, also receive a complimentary stay at the Wynn Las Vegas resort. Pricing, specs and features for all Mercedes-Benz models are here.
Suzuki is currently offering 2.9% APR for 60 months on select 2010 Suzuki models, as well as $500 holiday cash. Suzuki is also offering prospective sport sedan buyers $100 for considering the all-new Kizashi when shopping: The "Kizashi Test Drive Challenge" program, which runs through January 31, 2010, will pay $100 to anybody who purchases either a 2010 Audi A4 2.0T or 2010 Acura TSX (four-cylinder model) within 10 days of their comparison test drive of the all-new Kizashi. Choose your Suzuki model.
Toyota's Toyotathon deals vary regionally with such financing offers as 0% for 36 months, and 3.9% for up to 60 months depending on the model through January 4, and cashback/factory rebate offers from $500 to $2000 are available on a limited selection of models. Check all Toyota model pricing, specs and mpg.
Volvo has teamed up with Costco to provide members an exclusive Winter Savings Promotion. Costco is offering Volvo employee pricing for the XC60, and $500 under Volvo employee pricing on the 2010 XC70 and XC90 through January 4. Costco members can also earn a $500 Costco cash card for filling out a post-purchase survey. See our Volvo vehicle guide.
And don't forget that the IRS also gives money back for new vehicle purchases. Taxpayers who buy certain new vehicles in 2009 can deduct the state and local sales and excise taxes they paid, or other taxes and fees they paid in states with no sales tax. The deduction is limited to the fees or taxes paid on up to $49,500 of the purchase price of a qualified new car, light truck, motor home or motorcycle. While many of the rebates and incentives in this article may last until January 4, 2010, to qualify for this IRS deduction, the vehicle must be purchased before January 1, 2010, in order for taxpayers to claim this deduction on their 2009 tax returns (filed in 2010). Be sure to consult your preparer to find out if this is a worthwhile deduction for you.
Research all make and model specifics such as standard features, options, fuel economy and pricing in our New Car Buyer's Guide to narrow down your search. Good luck!
By Brandy Schaffels, autoMedia.com contributing editor