Best Car Deals

What Are This March's Best Car Deals?

With storm after storm, it might feel like winter's grip is never going to let go. The end of winter tends to be slow in auto showrooms, making it an excellent time to buy a new car before dealerships have their usual spring rush. There’s no shortage of great deals this March, with generous cash back deals and low-interest financing available on a broad selection of cars, trucks, SUVs, and minivans.

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Last Updated: Mar 04, 2019

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When vehicles aren't selling at the pace automakers and their dealers expect, the law of supply and demand helps buyers get great deals. Automakers offer special financing that's below the rates you'll find at banks and credit unions, and cash back offers that lower the price you have to pay. The best car deals provide a bit of both.

Interest rates have been trending upward for over a year, with some industry experts predicting the end of zero percent financing deals. Despite the forecasts, there are plenty of zero percent deals available, though they’re more targeted to specific models than they have been.

Finding exceptional new car deals takes some research. You need to know what a good deal is, how to find it, and how to compare the various deals you encounter. Then you’ll need to know how to take advantage of the offer, so you can save the thousands of dollars promised by the deal.

When it comes to battling over sales, no segment is as rough-and-tumble as the full-size pickup market. Surging sales and generous incentives on the 2019 Ram 1500 have Chevy responding with a six-year zero percent financing offer on many models of the redesigned 2019 Chevrolet Silverado.

There’s a great zero percent deal available on the 2019 Dodge Durango, with as much as $5,000 bonus cash thrown in. Luxury automaker Jaguar has zero percent financing on much of its lineup, including the all-new 2019 I-Pace performance electric car. The Jaguar I-Pace is our top-ranked luxury compact SUV. While customers salivate over the rumored midengine Corvette, sales of the 2018 Chevy Corvette are languishing, prompting Chevy to provide a six-year zero percent financing offer on the vehicle.

Consumers looking for cash back offers can find them across the market. There are deals with up to $3,000 bonus cash on the 2019 Hyundai Elantra and up to $4,250 on the popular 2019 Nissan Rogue. Buyers in the luxury car market can find massive cash back deals on vehicles ranging from the 2019 Cadillac Escalade to the 2019 Lexus LC sports coupe. Depending on the model you choose and where you buy, you can get up to $4,750 cash back on a 2019 Chrysler Pacifica minivan.

How Can U.S. News Help You Get a Deal?

You’re not getting a great deal on a new car unless you're choosing a great model that fits your needs and budget. The expert researchers and journalists of U.S. News & World Report offer many resources to help you through the car-buying and ownership journey.

Our researchers analyze thousands of car reviews from the top automotive journalists in the country. We combine their analysis with measurable data about every vehicle’s safety and predicted reliability to form the scores that we use to rank vehicles against their peers. You can find nearly every new car, pickup, minivan, and SUV in our new vehicle rankings. To ensure that our reviews remain fair and impartial, our staff does not accept trips or expensive gifts from automakers, and an independent company handles the advertising on our site.

Our site also features tools that you can use to compare vehicles side by side based on the factors that buyers tell us are critical in their purchase decisions, such as safety, predicted reliability, and vehicle performance.

Ready to buy? The U.S. News Best Price Program connects buyers and lease customers to local dealers offering guaranteed savings. Buyers save an average of more than $3,000 when they take advantage of the program.

We also offer resources to help you navigate the complex car-buying process. Our articles teach how to buy a vehicle, how to get an auto loan, and how to choose between buying and leasing. An essential part of car buying is having the knowledge and confidence to negotiate a great price on the car you want, avoid buying budget-busting add-ons, and finalize the deal. Expert advice, such as making sure that you have an approved financing deal in place from an outside lender before you start visiting dealers, will give you that confidence.

Our support does not end when you drive your new car home. We offer advice on how to get the right car insurance and how to avoid killing your car, which can save you thousands over the life of the vehicle.

What Is a Car Deal?

Carmakers offer specials for many reasons. Sometimes, a vehicle simply does not meet the sales goals the manufacturer expects, and they need a bit of a boost to pick up the pace. It's natural that when a vehicle nears the end of its product life cycle that its sales slow. At the same time, dealers need to move those older models off their lots to make room for updated versions.

Buyers can save thousands by taking advantage of automakers’ and dealers’ efforts to move certain vehicles off the lots. The best part? You don’t have to haggle to get the savings.

Three types of incentives are common. Lease incentives, which you’ll find on our lease deals page, offer low monthly payments, reduced amounts due at signing, or both. Cash back offers and financing deals reduce the price of the car or the cost of financing.

Cash back deals are a bit of a misnomer. You’re not going to leave the dealership with a stack of cash, though that would be cool. Cash back offers discount the price of the vehicle. They go by several names, including rebates, bonus cash, cash allowances, and cash back incentives. No matter which term the automaker uses, they all lower the amount that you have to pay. For example, snag the $3,000 cash back deal available on the 2019 Toyota Avalon in some areas of the country, and you can drop the price you pay from $35,550 to $32,550.

One of the major costs of car buying is the amount of interest you pay when you finance your purchase. Though many buyers don’t consider the cost, it can add up to thousands of dollars. Taking advantage of a financing deal can slash that price tremendously. In the case of a zero percent financing offer, it can take the cost of financing to nothing. Finding an automaker with a low interest rate offer is like seeing a bank with a huge "Sale" banner. By lowering or eliminating the cost of financing, you can shorten the length of your car loan, score a lower payment, or possibly afford a nicer vehicle.

Let’s look at one of this month’s zero percent deals to show just how much money you can save by taking advantage of a low- or no-interest car loan. Chevrolet has a six-year zero percent offer on the 2018 Chevy Corvette Grand Sport. The car’s base price is $65,495, which will get broken down into a series of equal monthly payments (assuming you don’t make a down payment). Just divide the price by 72 months, and you'll see that each monthly payment is about $910.

Now assume you have to pay a market-average interest rate for your new sports car. For a 72-month loan, that current average is 4.84 percent. To compute the compound interest, you’ll use a car loan calculator. Plug in the price, the interest rate, and the number of months in the loan, and the calculator will figure the monthly payment is $1,050. That’s $140 a month more than the payment on the zero percent loan. Over the 72-month loan term, you would pay an extra $10,080 in interest.

The best financing deals are zero percent offers, of course, because they eliminate the cost of financing. Any offer that's well-below market rates will save you money, though. In most cases, buyers need excellent credit scores to qualify for the best interest rates. It's a good idea to check your credit score long before your car-buying odyssey begins so you can take steps to maximize your chance of getting one of the best deals available.

Also, even though you're getting a financing deal from an automaker, you should still negotiate with the dealer to get an even lower price.

Interest rate and cash back specials come loaded with fine print and restrictions. Most offers are restricted to specific models or even trim levels of those models. Some are limited to a certain percentage of dealer stock or to consumers who live in specific locations. You can find the best deals available in your area by using our Best Price Program, contacting your local dealer, or chatting with an online sales rep. It's critical to pay attention to the expiration date on any offer, as missing by even a day can disqualify you from getting the discount.

Investing a little time and travel can reap big rewards. Different dealers can pay different prices to automakers to get the cars on their lots, so if one dealer paid substantially less than another dealer for the vehicle you're considering, they'll have more room to negotiate a final price. You can also save money by checking with dealers in areas where your car of choice isn't terribly popular. Full-size pickup trucks, for example, may be a bargain in cities but not in the suburbs or at rural retailers, while hybrids may not be as in-demand in rural areas as they are in the city.

How Do You Know if It Is a Good Deal?

Consumers should never assume that an advertised deal is automatically a good deal. It takes a little bit of homework to analyze a deal, but fortunately, the math is pretty simple. Most people base their car-buying decision on the monthly payment, but that's an awful way to buy a car. Instead, you want to look at the total cost of the vehicle, including the cost of financing. You'll want to do the math yourself, as it's easy for a trained salesperson to shuffle the numbers around to give you a low monthly payment, even if the deal is horrendous. Not considering the total cost of a vehicle is a financial mistake with consequences that last years.

To figure the total cost, multiply the monthly payment by the number of months in the loan and add any down payment that you are making, plus the value of your trade-in. If, for example, you have monthly payments of $400 on a five-year loan and put $5,000 down, the total cost of the car would be $400 times 60 months plus $5,000, which works out to $29,000. You can find your monthly payment by using a car loan calculator that is capable of computing compound interest.

The first thing you want to remember is that there are three components to a car buying transaction: the cost of the car, the cost of the financing, and the value of your trade-in. You’ll want to keep them separate, while the dealership will want to lump them all into one confusing deal.

Comparing Competing Offers

It can get confusing if you’re faced with multiple car deals on the same car, but it's actually easy to compare offers if you remember to look at the total cost of the vehicle, including the financing. Just break out the calculator and run the numbers for each deal you're offered.

To illustrate, we’ll look at the deals you can take advantage of this month on the 2019 Hyundai Elantra. Hyundai is offering $3,000 cash back or 1.9 percent financing for five years plus $500 bonus cash. We’ll assume you’re buying a midrange Elantra Limited trim level with a price of $22,600 and you’re not making a down payment or trading in your old car.

Let’s look at the low-interest deal first. Since you’re getting $500 bonus cash, we’ll subtract it from the amount you have to finance to determine your loan will need to be $22,100. Plug the price, 1.9 percent interest rate, and 60-month loan term into a car loan calculator, and you see that the monthly payment on the loan would be $386. Multiply the monthly payment by the number of months in the loan term to determine the total cost of the loan. In this case, it would be $23,160.

Take the $3,000 cash back, and the amount you’ll need to finance is $22,600 minus $3,000, or $19,600. However, you’ll have to pay an interest rate that's closer to the market average of 4.78 percent on your loan. Using the auto loan calculator with the average five-year interest rate shows us a payment of $368. Over the five-year loan term, your payments would total $22,080.

In this case, the cash back offer will save you more than $1,000 compared to the low-interest rate deal. You can save even more if the cash back deal does not require you to use the manufacturer’s own lender, and you can get a lower interest rate at another financial institution. U.S. News Partner myAutoLoan can get you as many as four pre-approved financing offers with just one simple online application.

There are a lot of variables involved with different car deals, so never assume that one type of offer is always going to be better than another. Remember to include the value of your trade-in and any down payment you make into your calculations.

It is critical that you resist the urge, or a dealer’s suggestion, to stretch out your car loan past five years to lower your monthly payment or get into a more expensive car. Taking a longer loan puts you in a more precarious financial position and usually increases the interest rate and overall cost of the loan. You never want to be forced to choose between paying for a costly repair on a car that is out of warranty or making your car payment.

Completing the Deal

Once you've negotiated an agreement with the dealer, it's time to sit down and do the paperwork. It may have been a long day of haggling, and you just want to hop in your new car and drive away, but you need to slow down and pay attention to the details in the paperwork. You need to read each page, making sure that the numbers match what you agreed to. Sometimes costly add-ons magically appear in the final documents, and you’ll want them removed before you sign.

The most critical numbers to look for are the length of the loan, the price of the car, and your interest rate. Don't ever sign a document with blank spaces or errors, even if the finance officer promises to fix them later. If they pressure you to sign papers that are incorrect or that you don't understand, remember that your greatest power is to walk away from the deal.

If a dealer offers you the chance to take the car home while they process the final paperwork, you should politely decline. What often happens is that you’ll get a call saying you didn’t qualify for the deal that everyone agreed to, and you have to return to the dealer to fill out new paperwork. In many of those cases, the new financing deal is much more expensive than the original.

We research deals based on representative ZIP codes across the country. We strive to keep this list up to date, but offers can change without warning. Some car specials are limited to a certain number of vehicles or a percentage of dealer stock, and inclusion on our site does not guarantee that a particular deal will be available at your local outlet. The easiest way to find out if you can take advantage of an offer is to click the orange button next to the car that you're interested in, and we’ll search for a great price at a local new car dealer.

Our best car deals include purchase deals for Toyota, Nissan, Ford, Honda, Chevrolet, Hyundai, Kia, Dodge, Ram, Jeep, Mazda, Buick, GMC, Subaru, Volkswagen, Acura, Cadillac, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW, and Lexus vehicles. Our expert researchers and journalists also search the market for this month’s best lease deals and best used car deals. We’ve done the research to help you find a great ride at a great price.

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