December stuffed with happy holidays, year-end deals on wheels

With record sales to celebrate going into December, you might think that car and truck manufacturers would be making like Ebenezer Scrooge with special year-end offers. You might be mistaken. Instead, most of them are sounding like Santa Claus, offering great sale and lease deals, including cash back on many models. And shoppers won’t find deals just on 2012 models. There are plenty of specials on 2013 cars and trucks, as well.

The sales have catchy-sounding names emphasizing holiday or seasonal themes: Nissan’s “Season to Share” and Lincoln’s “Wish List Sales Event.” Acura calls this the “Season of Reason,” and BMW invites you to have a “Happier New Year.” Cadillac is straightforward, proclaiming its “Season’s Best Event,” while Honda says these are “Happy Honda Days,” and Audi proclaims “The Season of Audi.” Buick has a “Holiday Event,” and Hyundai has its “Hyundai Holidays Sales Event.” Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat and Jeep are offering buyers a “Big Finish 2012,” Ford is having a  “Year-End Celebration,” while Chevy, Mercedes-Benz and Infiniti go low-key with “Year-End Event,” “Winter Event,” and “Limited Engagement Winter Event,” respectively.

These sales are the best deals of the year for customers wanting to buy or lease new vehicles. Dealers have dual reasons for dealing: they want to reduce inventories going into a new year. Plus, on January 1, all 2012 models are considered a year old and worth less, even if never driven. So in order to get these deals, buyers must take delivery soon, usually by January 2, though some promotions specify by December 31.

To get consumers in the buying (or leasing) mood, incentives can be pretty large. The two biggest are low interest rates and cash, and sometimes a combination of the two.  Several manufacturers are dangling finance rates as low as 0.0 percent APR (annual percentage rate) on “select” models for anywhere between 24 and 60 months. Others offer graduated rates, beginning at 0.0 percent and rising (i.e., 1.9 percent, 2.9 percent, etc.), as the term of the contract gets longer, up to 72 months.

Cash back and other financial incentives abound, usually according to model availability, popularity and price. For example, Ford offers no incentives at all on its 2012 Explorer but if you’re in the market for a 2013 model the cash incentive is very attractive. General Motors and Chrysler are offering cash back deals on many models, as are Nissan, Toyota, Mitsubishi, MINI, Lincoln, Hyundai and BMW. Some models come packaged with cash plus great financing.

Perhaps the most unusual offer is Subaru’s “Share the Love” event. Subaru will donate $250 to one of five charities: the Alzheimer’s Association, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), Make a Wish, Meals on Wheels or the USO. You choose the one you like best. It comes with special financing offers on many models, too, so you give and get something.

If you’re in the market for a good lease deal, this is also a good time to shop for a new vehicle, since dealers are offering a variety of savings possibilities. They range from zero due at signing to no security deposit, to “your first month is on us.”

If you think it would be nice to have a new ride sometime in the near future, deals probably won’t get this good until the same time next year. Plus, it’s hard to underestimate the favorable impact of a beautifully gift-wrapped set of keys that unlock the shiny new car in the driveway. It’s a holiday gift that keeps on giving all year long.

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About timwjackson

Working every day for a better Colorado.
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