Best Car Deals

What Are February’s Best Car Deals?

With rising interest rates, there’s been a lot of talk about the end of zero percent new-car financing. If February’s deals are any indication, those rumors were premature. There are plenty of zero percent financing deals on vehicles ranging from subcompact SUVs to recently redesigned full-size pickup trucks.

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Last Updated: Feb 05, 2019

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Although you might not think wintertime is a great time to buy a car, it’s actually a good time to save some money on a new ride. Not only are showrooms quiet, with salespeople and dealerships still trying to hit their monthly goals, but there’s a good chance you’ll find a few 2018 models on the lots. By this time, the dealer is probably itching to move them along.

Buying a new car and getting a great deal takes some research. Not only do you need to know what makes for a good deal, you’ll also want to know how to compare different offers and take advantage of them when you head for the new-car lots. Knowing what deals are available and how to get them lets you approach the car-buying process with the confidence and tools to save thousands of dollars.

The weather in parts of the country may be cold, but the zero percent deals are red-hot. Buick is offering zero percent financing for almost every vehicle in its lineup, including the 2019 Buick Enclave, which holds the top spot in our ranking of midsize SUVs. Although the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado and 2019 Ram 1500 were both recently redesigned, there are zero percent financing deals plus bonus cash available on these full-size pickup trucks.

There is a decent $2,000 rebate on the 2019 Hyundai Sonata, but if you’re able to find a 2018 Sonata on the lots, you can get as much as $4,750 cash back. Hyundai made no major changes to the midsize sedan for 2019. Volvo is offering $6,750 cash back on the 2018 Volvo V90 wagon, and you can get an extra $1,000 if you’re a current Volvo or Saab owner.

Other vehicles with great cash back deals include the 2019 Kia Sorento, 2018 Jeep Renegade, and 2019 Nissan Rogue. In response to this winter’s low gas prices, Ford is offering an excellent combination of zero percent financing and cash back on the 2019 Ford Fusion Hybrid.

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

Our group of expert researchers and journalists believes that you are not getting a great deal unless you are getting a great car. The mission of the U.S. News Best Cars team is to help car buyers find the best deal on a vehicle that fits their needs and has what it takes to provide years of reliable service.

We start by studying thousands of car reviews from America’s top automotive journalists. We combine our analysis with quantifiable data about each vehicle’s safety and predicted reliability to create scores that we use to rank vehicles. We rank nearly every new car, minivan, SUV, and truck available in dealer showrooms. To ensure our impartiality, we do not accept trips or expensive gifts from automakers, and an outside company handles our advertising.

In addition to the overall scores that power our new car rankings, you can compare vehicles side by side using the factors that buyers tell us are critical in their purchase decisions, such as performance, safety, and predicted reliability.

When you know what you want to buy, the U.S. News Best Price Program will connect you to local dealers offering guaranteed savings. It’s available to both lease and purchase customers, saving buyers an average of more than $3,000 off the sticker price. The Best Price Program can help you identify incentives that you might not have known were available.

The car buying process can be complex, but our team offers resources to help you select and buy a car. Our articles will teach you about how to buy a vehicle, the steps to follow to get a car loan, and how to decide whether to buy or lease. Expert advice, like making sure you have an approved financing offer before you visit a car dealership, will give you the knowledge and confidence you need to negotiate a great price, avoid costly extras, and finalize the deal. Information on car ownership and insurance will help you long after you’ve left the dealer’s lot. Ownership advice, like our article on ways to avoid killing your car, can save you thousands of dollars over the life of the vehicle.

What Is a Car Deal?

Not every model that automakers introduce is a blockbuster hit. Some simply don’t meet their sales targets, and every vehicle eventually reaches the end of its product cycle. Automakers offer deals to increase the sales pace for these models and move them off dealer lots. Buyers can reap huge savings by taking advantage of incentives, and they don’t even have to haggle to get them.

The three most common types of incentives are lease deals, cash back offers, and financing deals. You can see this month’s best lease incentives on our lease deals page.

Even though it’s called a cash back deal, it doesn’t mean you’re going to drive away from the dealership with a wad of money in your pocket. A cash back offer is a discount on the price of the car. Cash back deals go by many names, including rebates, bonus cash, cash back incentives, and cash allowances. They all mean pretty much the same thing, no matter what jargon the manufacturer chooses. If you take the $4,750 cash back offer that is available in some regions this month on the 2018 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk, for example, you can knock $4,750 off its $26,845 base price, making your purchase price $22,095.

The purchase price of the vehicle is only one cost you’ll have to pay when you buy a car. Interest costs can add up to thousands of dollars, so taking advantage of a discounted interest rate is a great way to save money. Finding an interest rate that is below the going market rate is like finding a bank with a huge sale banner flying out front. A low- or no-interest deal can allow you to get a lower monthly payment, shorten your car loan, or buy a nicer ride.

Many people don’t realize just how much a zero percent or other low-interest rate deal can save them. Here’s an example from this month’s deal on the 2019 Buick LaCrosse. Buick is offering all but the base model of the large sedan with a zero percent financing deal for six years plus $1,250 cash back. We’ll assume you are opting for a midrange $36,370 LaCrosse Essence and not making a down payment. Subtract the rebate from the sticker price, and divide the $35,120 remainder into 72 equal monthly payments of $488.

If you finance the sticker price of the car at the national average interest rate, your rate would be 4.83 percent this month. Using a car loan calculator, you can determine the monthly payment. In this case, it would be $583 per month. The zero percent plus cash back offer would save you $95 per month, or a whopping $6,840 over the life of the loan.

Before you start car shopping, you should get a pre-approved loan deal so you know the rate you can qualify for. U.S. News partner myAutoLoan can give you up to four offers with one simple online application.

The best financing deals are zero percent offers, though any interest rate that is significantly below market rates will save you money. Most dealerships only offer financing car deals to buyers with excellent credit. Check your credit reports well before you head to the dealer so you have time to correct any errors and improve your score. A higher score can pay off in a big way when you’re looking for financing.

Though a salesperson might tell you otherwise, buyers who take advantage of financing or cash back deals should still negotiate to ensure that they are getting the best price possible. Just because the automaker is giving you a deal doesn't mean the dealer can't kick in something to lower the cost further.

Naturally, car deals come loaded with fine print and restrictions. Many offers are restricted to certain models, a percentage of dealer stock, or residents of specific regions. Our Best Price Program, your local dealer, or an online sales rep can help you identify which offers you qualify for. Pay close attention to make sure that an offer won’t expire before you can complete your purchase. Arriving even one day late can disqualify you from getting the discount.

Shopping around can pay big dividends, as different dealers can pay different invoice prices to automakers for the cars on their lots, and those differences may give them more room to negotiate. Some dealerships may be more tuned-in than others to the deals they can offer buyers. It’s a good idea to contact dealers in areas where the car that you’re considering may not be in high demand. Look at plug-in hybrids from rural dealers, for example, or full-size pickups from urban locations.

How Do You Know if It Is a Good Deal?

Every deal you see advertised is a great deal, right? Of course not, but finding out how good or bad a deal is only takes a little work. The most critical thing you can do is to look past the monthly payment and consider the total cost of the loan. It’s easy for a dealer to manipulate the monthly payment to make it look attractive, even on a deal that’s not very good.

The best way to evaluate a new car deal is to determine the total cost of the vehicle, including the price of its financing. Failing to look at all the costs can haunt your finances for years. Be sure to break out the pencil and calculator yourself, and don’t rely on a salesperson, who is an expert at making the numbers say what they want them to say.

Although it can be tough to do if you’re not prepared, it is critical that you break the car buying process into three components: the cost of the car, the cost of the financing, and the value of your trade-in. Bundling them together can lead to confusion, which is great for the dealer but hazardous to your wallet.

You'll often face a difficult choice: low-cost financing or a cash back offer. The math to compare offers is pretty simple, and we’ll walk you through the steps, using a couple of this month’s offers to illustrate.

In some parts of the country, you can purchase an upper trim model of the 2019 Kia Sorento with either $4,000 cash back or zero percent financing for four years plus $1,000 bonus cash. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll assume you’re not making a down payment or trading in your current car. We’ll use a $35,590 Kia Sorento EX for our example.

For the zero percent plus cash back deal, subtract the $1,000 rebate from the SUV’s price to determine that you’ll need to finance $34,590 at zero percent. Since there’s no interest to be paid, simply divide the $34,590 price into 48 equal monthly payments of about $721.

Choose the $4,000 cash back offer, and you’ll have to use an auto loan calculator to figure out your interest costs. First, subtract $4,000 from the $35,590 price to see that you’ll have to finance $31,590. The average interest rate for four-year loans this month is 4.71 percent. Enter the interest rate, the amount you’re borrowing, and the loan term into the car loan calculator, and it will show that the monthly payments would be $723 per month.

Choosing the large cash back offer would give you monthly payments just a couple of dollars more than the zero percent deal, or about $100 over the course of the loan.

If you’re able to get an below-average interest rate, however, you stand to save money with the cash back offer. Check with our U.S. News partner myAutoLoan, and you may find that better deal.

Because of all the variables involved, you can never assume that one offer will be better than another without running the numbers and thinking about your personal financial circumstances. If you are making a substantial down payment or have a high-value trade-in, be sure to include those values in your calculations.

No matter what you do, it is essential to resist the urge, or a dealer's recommendation, to extend your loan past five years to get a lower payment or buy a more expensive car. Doing so dramatically increases your financial exposure and usually increases your interest rate. You never want to be in the position of having a car that is old enough to require costly repairs while you're still making payments on it.

Completing the Deal

Driving away from the dealer in a new car is fun, but don’t let your excitement cause you to rush through the final paperwork that you have to complete. Instead, slow down and read each document carefully to ensure that the numbers match what you agreed to and are expecting. You’ll want to verify that no outrageous dealer fees or costly add-ons have crept into the deal.

Pay close attention to the price, the length of the loan, and the interest rate. If you find an error or parts of a document left blank, don’t sign the paper, even if the finance officer promises to fix it later. If you are pressured to sign incomplete or incorrect paperwork, you should consider it a red flag and walk away from the deal. Never drive a car away from a dealership without having the final loan documents signed, as you may be called back to sign papers at a much higher rate than you thought you were getting.

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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