Bargain Hunting: Best Year-End New Car Buys

Bargain New Cars
Although the 2015 Nissan Altima is one of the top-selling cars in the United States, you can score a year end deal. Credit: Nissan

This is the time for bargain new cars.

The last week of the year may be the best time of the year to get a great deal on a new vehicle, especially a leftover 2015 model or a 2016 that’s in stock. Also, dealers want to meet, or beat, their annual sales quotas and clear their inventory, so you might even consider it just another After Christmas sale.

Dealers especially want to get rid of  2015 “demo” vehicles. These are the models other buyers have taken for a test drive. Even though they likely have fewer than 500 miles on the odometer, their slightly used status makes them a true bargain, especially since you get the new car warranty and all its benefits.

You’ll find the deepest discounts on 2015 models which have been redesigned or refreshed for 2016. And, because of low gas prices, larger and less fuel efficient vehicles have broken sales records recently, so you’ll get an equally great deal on hybrids and other green cars.

Bargain New Cars

2015 Chevrolet Volt could be a bargain right now. Credit: Chevrolet

Family cars top the list

Two family cars fit both categories: the Chevrolet Volt and Toyota Prius. Both have been redesigned for 2016, and sales of both have lagged slightly because of low gas prices, so dealers are offering incentives,

Toyota is offering 0% financing to qualified Prius buyers and $209 a month leases for 24 months. Chevrolet is offering $1,500 cash back and 0% financing for 60 months to qualified Volt buyers. Plus, there’s the incentive of getting 60+ miles per gallon in either model, which will save you money when gas prices go up again – and you know they will.

The leftovers: 2015 models

Bargain New Cars

The 2015 Honda Civic is a perennial best-seller. Credit: Honda

Here are four more leftover 2015 models updated for 2016 that are best buys, including for their resale value down the road:

  • 2015 BMW 3 Series – A refreshed design of this iconic entry luxury car has pushed down prices, and BMW has been offering cash rebates and attractive lease specials in some parts of the country.
  • 2015 Honda Civic – A perennial best-seller for those on a budget, and consistently top-rated for safety. Look for deals as much as $2,000 off fair market value on outgoing models, and leasing deals as low as $149 a month.
  • 2015 Volkswagen Passat – VW dealers have been lonely lately because the reputation-killing scandal over the diesel emission-cheating software has caused sales to plummet, including on non-diesel models. Cash incentives as high as 20% and 0% financing are easy to find on all VW models. The Passat is top-rated for safety and fuel efficiency, plus it’s built in VW’s factory in Chattanooga, the world’s first LEED certified auto manufacturing plant.
  • 2015 Nissan Altima – Fuel efficient and loaded with technology, this is another ideal family sedan. And there’s a Hybrid version, too. Although the 2015 Hyundai Sonata, and Sonata Hybrid, are not being refreshed for 2016, both models compare favorably with the Altima in price, comfort, safety and fuel efficiency.
Bargain New Cars

Capitalaize on VW’s woes by trying for a deal on a 2015 Passat. Credit: Volkswagen

Here are some other incentive deals on 2015 models from Forbes

  • 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT – $5,000 cash back
  • 2015 Ram 2500/3500 HD Pickups – $3,000 cash back or 1.9% financing
  • 2015 Maxda CX-9 SUV – $4,000 cash back or 0% financing
  • 2015 Dodge Charger – $2,500 leasing bonus cash or cash back on purchase

Some of these deals are only until midnight on December 31st, but according to KBB, some incentives will continue through the first weekend of the new year, including:

  • 2015 Chevrolet Impala – get 0% financing for 60 months
  • 2015 Kia Optima – $189 a month leasing for 39 months
  • 2015 Ford F-150 SuperCrew Cab – $3,750 cash back

Some of the discounted offers on 2015 vehicles are regional. Checking comparison pricing sites such as Edmunds, KBB and AutoTrader is mandatory any time of year. Edmunds has an expanded list of 2015 model year recommendations.

Bargain New Cars

Although the 2015 Nissan Altima is one of the top-selling cars in the United States, you can score a year end deal. Credit: Nissan

Car buying tips

Another tactic for getting the best deal is to go car shopping late in the day, when the salesperson wants to complete the deal and go home, or on a bad weather day when customer traffic is low.

Whenever you go into a dealership, or “store” as it may be called – be sure to have your pricing research in hand, and be prepared to compromise on color or options or both.

Everybody who will drive the vehicle regularly should take a test drive, to be sure there’s nothing that you can live with but your partner can’t. Recently, my six-foot son vetoed a coupe he coveted because his head hit the sloping front roof. Five-foot me had no such problem.

And if possible, take that test drive as far as your driveway or garage, to be sure it doesn’t bottom out and that it’s easy to get in and out.

Evelyn Kanter has been reporting about safety, value and destinations for longer than she cares to admit publicly, first... More about Evelyn Kanter