Best Car Deals

What Are April's Best Car Deals?

Car dealers love early spring. Consumers emerge from their winter buying slumber, making April the unofficial start of the new car buying season. This April, automakers are offering plenty of generous financing and cash back deals that can save buyers considerable amounts of money.

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Last Updated: Apr 04, 2019

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Carmakers have several tools at their disposal to boost sales. The most common are cash back offers, which effectively lower the vehicle's price, and financing that's below the interest rates you'll find at banks, credit unions, or other lenders. The best financing deal you can get is a zero percent offer, which completely eliminates interest payments on your car loan. They’re not as common as they were a year ago, but savvy shoppers can still find them.

Finding a great deal takes some effort. First, you need to know where to find a great offer. Then you’ll want to know how to compare competing offers and take advantage of the incentives. It’s a great idea – especially for first-time buyers – to read our article on how to buy a car before you get too far down the path toward a car dealership.

This April’s car deals span the market from an affordable compact car to an opulent luxury large SUV. Most are 2019 models, though there are a couple 2018s in the mix that have redesigns right around the corner.

Two of the more surprising deals are on cars with impressive performance. The all-new 2019 Jaguar I-Pace is available with a five-year zero percent financing offer. There’s so much talk about a midengine Chevy Corvette coming soon that 2018 Corvette models are collecting dust on dealer lots. Chevrolet is offering a six-year zero percent financing deal on a variety of Corvette models to boost the pace of sales.

Those in the market for an SUV can get a zero percent car deal on models including the 2019 GMC Acadia, 2019 Nissan Rogue, and 2019 Ford Expedition. The generous financing offer on the popular Expedition is the first one we’ve seen since the Expedition’s redesign. Minivan buyers can take advantage of a financing plus bonus cash deal on the 2019 Chrysler Pacifica.

Buyers who are making a large down payment or have a high-value trade-in can often get a better deal when they take advantage of a cash back offer. This month's list of cars with substantial rebates includes the 2019 Cadillac Escalade, 2018 Mazda3, and 2018 Fiat 500X. Buick is offering 21% percent off the 2019 Buick Encore. This discount lowers the price of the vehicle much like a cash back rebate does.

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

At U.S. News Best Cars, we believe you haven’t gotten a good deal unless you’ve found a good car. We offer many resources to help you get the right vehicle for your needs and budget, find affordable financing, successfully negotiate the buying process, and learn about getting the proper car insurance.

Unlike publications that rely on the opinion of a single reviewer, U.S. News & World Report looks at hundreds of new car reviews from the country’s top automotive journalists. We use their consensus opinion, blended with quantifiable data on predicted reliability and safety, to come up with a score for nearly every new car, truck, SUV, wagon, and minivan you can buy. Those scores are then used to rank vehicles against their peers. To ensure that you can trust our impartiality, our staff does not accept expensive gifts or travel from automakers, and an outside company handles our advertising.

In addition to their overall rankings, we offer consumers the ability to compare models based on the individual factors they tell us are critical to their purchase decisions, such as predicted reliability ratings and performance.

You can save both time and money by taking advantage of our Best Price Program. We work with local dealers to provide haggle-free, guaranteed savings off the MSRP. On average, buyers shave more than $3,000 off the sticker price when they use the program.

Buying a new car is one of the last arenas of free-wheeling price negotiation, and that can be intimidating even to savvy consumers. We’ll give you confidence going into the car-buying process with articles on topics including how to get an auto loan, deciding whether to buy or lease, the best way to negotiate a great price, and costly extras to avoid. We’ll even help you with advice after you leave the dealership by showing you how to get the right auto insurance coverage at a reasonable price.

The tips in the articles, such as having a pre-approved financing deal before you head for the car dealership, can save you money now and throughout the life of your vehicle.

What Is a Car Deal?

In a perfect world for car dealers, automakers would make just the right number of cars to meet demand. Fortunately for consumers, sometimes car manufacturers overestimate demand. When that happens, a car might need a bit of extra help to get to a price where it will sell. Other vehicles sell great when they’re first introduced but are harder to move when a replacement is right around the corner.

That’s where automaker-supported car deals come into play. They offer incentives for buyers that lower the cost of the vehicle, its financing, or both. What’s the best part about car deals? You don’t have to negotiate to take advantage of the money-saving offers.

Car deals fall into three main categories: lease, cash back, and financing. Automaker-subsidized lease deals offer lower monthly payments, smaller amounts due when you start the contract, or both. We track the best lease deals available on our lease deals page. Cash back offers lower the price you pay for the car, while financing deals reduce or eliminate the amount of interest you pay on your car loan.

Though they are called cash back deals, the dealer won’t give you a pile of money before you drive away. Instead, they reduce the price you pay for the car. Cash back incentives go by several names, including rebates, bonus cash, and cash allowances, but they all work the same to knock hundreds or thousands of dollars off the price you’ll pay.

A good example is this month's deal on the 2018 Mazda3 hatchback. Its base sticker price is $19,345. Take advantage of the $3,000 rebate that’s available in parts of the country, and you’ll drop the price to $16,345.

Many buyers don’t consider the cost of interest on their car loan when making a purchase decision, but it can be a significant expense. Getting a financing deal can reduce, or even eliminate, the cost of interest on your car loan. Lowering the amount of interest you pay can allow you to make smaller monthly payments, shorten your car loan, or even afford a nicer car.

To illustrate, we’ll look at the five-year zero percent financing deal available this month on the 2019 Ford Expedition. The base price of Ford’s big SUV is $52,130. If you take advantage of the zero percent deal, you don’t have to pay any interest. You simply divide the price by the number of months you’ll be paying, which is 60 in this case. It works out to monthly payments of about $869.

The math to compute compound interest on an auto loan is a bit more complicated. Fortunately, we can use a car loan calculator to do the hard work for us. If you could not get the zero percent deal, you would likely have to pay something close to the market average interest rate, which is currently 4.77% for five-year auto financing. Input the vehicle price, the loan interest rate, and the number of monthly payments into the calculator, and you'll find that each monthly payment is $978.

Miss out on the zero percent deal, and you will have to pay an extra $109 per month. Over the five years of the loan, you'll pay $6,540 in interest.

While zero percent deals offer the best possible interest rate, you can save money with any offer that’s significantly below market rates. Of course, you should check with a bank or credit union to find out what rate you qualify for before you assume that a car deal offers the best value.

The best car deals are reserved for customers with top-notch credit scores. With few exceptions, consumers with challenged credit will have a hard time getting one of these great deals. If that's you, you’re better off getting a pre-approved offer from your bank or credit union before heading to the dealer. If you have bad credit, going into a dealer’s finance office unprepared can be financially risky.

Occasionally, automakers offer special financing deals to customers with challenged credit. It’s a good idea to ask a manufacturer’s online sales consultant about any such programs before you head for the dealer.

Even if you have found a spectacular cash back or financing deal, you should still negotiate to get the lowest possible price on the vehicle. Though a salesperson might tell you otherwise, you should negotiate just as hard on the cost of a car with an incentive as you would on a car without one.

New car deals come loaded with rules, restrictions, and fine print. Only specific models or even trim levels of those models are subject to the deals. Some offers are limited to a certain number of vehicles or a percentage of a dealer’s stock. Many deals only apply to car shoppers who live in specific areas. You can contact your local dealer directly or chat with an internet sales representative to verify that you qualify for the deal you’re seeking. Paying attention to a deal's expiration date is essential. Miss it by even a day, and you'll likely miss out on the discount.

Buyers who are willing to invest a bit of time and travel into their car purchase can potentially save even more money. Dealerships have manufacturer discounts and direct-to-dealer incentives, so different dealers can pay the factory different prices for the same car. For the vehicle you want, find a dealer who paid less for the vehicle or is trying to hit a sales goal, and they'll have more room to negotiate a lower sales price. Inquiring at dealerships who sell a different mix of vehicles than others can also get you a better deal. Call a rural dealer, for example, if you're looking for a hybrid that may not be as popular in that area. Looking for a full-size pickup? An urban dealer might make you a great deal.

How Do You Know if It Is a Good Deal?

Don’t assume that every advertised offer is a good deal. You'll want to do the math to see how different offers compare, and which one saves you the most money. Avoid the temptation to compare deals by simply looking at the monthly payment. While getting a monthly payment that fits into your budget is essential, focusing on just the payment and ignoring other factors could mean that you spend much more money in the long run. Instead, you want to compute the entire cost of the car, including the interest you'll pay on your car loan.

Car salespeople will offer to do all of the math for you, but it is critical you pull up the calculator on your smartphone and do the math yourself. While they will want to keep you focused on the monthly payment, you can do the math and see the total cost and ensure that no costly extras are included in the deal. The simple act of bringing out a calculator sends a signal that you are a savvy customer.

Fortunately, the math to determine a car’s total cost is easy. First, you use a car loan calculator to determine the monthly payment by entering the price of the vehicle, the interest rate, and the number of payments. Then multiply that payment by the number of months you'll be paying on the loan to determine the total cost of your payments. Add your down payment and the value of your trade-in to that number, and you'll have the total cost of the car. Here's an example: You have a car loan with payments of $300 per month for five years (60 months), and you are paying $2,000 down with no trade-in. Multiply $300 by 60, then add $2,000. The total cost of the car is $20,000.

Car buying gets more complicated when you lump the price of the car, the cost of financing, and your trade-in value into one transaction. An experienced salesperson will want to keep you focused on the monthly payment and will tweak the other numbers to show you the payment you said you could afford. As a smart buyer, your goal is to separate those components as much as possible. Unless you are getting a financing deal, you can take the loan component out of the mix by getting pre-approved for a financing deal at a bank or credit union. While the dealer might be able to beat the offer you have, they won’t have any incentive to do so unless you have a pre-approved offer in hand. You can take the trade-in out of the equation by selling it yourself to a private party or another dealer. If you do sell it yourself, however, you might end up paying more sales tax on your new-car purchase.

Many times, you’ll have an opportunity to choose between low-interest financing and a cash back offer. You can do a little math to see which is the best deal, and you’ll potentially save yourself some money.

We can use a couple of the offers available on the 2018 Mazda3 hatchback to illustrate how to compare offers. Mazda is offering a choice of $2,000 cash back (in some parts of the country) or a five-year 1.9% financing deal. We’ll assume you’re looking at the midrange Touring trim level, which has a sticker price of $21,890.

Let's look at the cash back deal first. Your purchase price is $21,890 minus the $2,000 rebate, or $19,890. You'll probably have to pay something around the average five-year interest rate of 4.77%, so that's the number we'll use in this comparison. Plug the number of payments, the price, and the interest rate into an auto loan calculator, and you'll see that your monthly payments would be $373.

With the special financing offer, you won’t get the rebate discount, so enter the full $21,890 into the car loan calculator with the 1.9% interest rate and 60-month term. The payments with the low-rate financing would be $383 per month.

The rebate offer beats the low-interest financing deal by $10 per month. That might not seem like much, but multiply that difference by 60 payments, and you’ll see that you’ll pay $600 more for your Mazda3 if you make the wrong choice and go with the financing deal. You’ll want to run the numbers for every scenario because every deal is different.

Though it may be tempting, it is critical that you don't stretch out the length of your car loan to get a lower monthly payment. Not only will you pay substantially more money in the long run, but it can also get you into a precarious financial position if the car is stolen or declared a total loss at a time when you owe more than the car’s worth. The longer the loan, the more likely that the warranty expires while you are still making payments. If something fails, you'll potentially be faced with costly repair bills in addition to your monthly payments.

Completing the Deal

The last step before you can drive your new car home is signing the paperwork in the dealer’s finance office. If you’ve been shopping all day, you probably just want to get the paperwork over and get home. It’s vital, however, that you stay focused and not rush through all of the documents you’ll be asked to sign.

You’ll want to read each one to make sure you understand what you are signing and to ensure that it accurately reflects the deal you agreed to. Pay close attention to the price, interest rate, length of the loan, and additional fees. Don't sign any document with errors or blank spaces, even if you are told that they will be completed or corrected before the papers are submitted. If you are pressured to sign an incomplete or incorrect document, it’s a red flag that should have you stepping away from the deal.

Look out for costly add-ons or fees you don’t understand. Before you accept any add-ons, you should price them from vendors outside of the dealership, such as your lender or auto insurance agent. If a dealer can’t explain a fee to your satisfaction, you should not have to pay it.

Don't ever leave a dealership with a vehicle until you are confident that the purchase and financing are finalized. Often a dealer will let you drive the car home while they complete the financing you agreed to. Several days later, you'll get a call saying the financing deal was not approved and you need to return to sign new paperwork. When you return, you’ll see that the new financing is much more expensive than the original deal. It’s called Yo-Yo financing.

Sometimes there are legitimate reasons the original financing deal fell through, but unscrupulous dealers will let you take the car knowing all along that you would not qualify for the original financing deal. Their goal is to get you to fall in love with your new ride, and then lead you to believe you have no choice but to agree to the new deal. If this happens to you, check with a local credit union or community bank to secure financing before you return to the dealer. Be prepared to give them back the car if they do not offer you a financing deal that is affordable and acceptable.

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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