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Finding great car bargains

 

Strong sales have put automakers in the power seat this summer, which means consumers will likely see sparser deals than in previous years. Still, there are a few bright spots for buyers. Cheap and more widely available credit has led to favorable financing deals, and high vehicle-resale values have helped dealerships push cheap leases. Plus, there are still a few cash deals. Here is where drivers in the market for a new car can still find bargains:

Leases. “Right now, we’re seeing the most attractive leases across the board that we’ve seen in a number of years,” says Alec Gutierrez, a senior market analyst at auto-pricing publisher Kelley Blue Book. Leasing payments often factor in a vehicle’s expected resale price, and used-car values have been rising, he says. That encourages manufacturers to drop lease prices, even to the point where they beat financing deals for buyers.

Consider: A 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo 4WD is only $319/month for a 39 month lease.

Low-rate financing. Consumers who want to hang on to a vehicle for more than a few years may find that financing is still the better deal, Caldwell says. “There are lots of 0% offers, because credit is cheap,” she says.

Consider: Chapman Chrysler Jeep is offering no payments for 90 days.

Big vehicles. Larger SUVs and trucks typically have the biggest cash rebates, and this year is no exception, says Jesse Toprak, the vice president of market intelligence at TrueCar, an auto-pricing website. Those categories don’t typically do well when gasoline prices are high and face increased competition from new crossovers that mix size and efficiency, he says.

Bigger vehicles account for the bulk of autos with cash incentives of $1,500 or more right now, for example Jeep Liberty Nevada has a $3,500 enticement.

Model redesigns. If price is more important to you than style, look for a car that is set to be redesigned in its next model year, Merrihew says. Incentives typically are better than on recently redesigned models because the look isn’t as fresh. There often is more room to negotiate, too. “The downside is, it will look like yesterday’s news pretty quickly,” he says.

Consider: Chrysler Jeep Vegas has great deals on the 2012 Jeep Wrangler since the 2013 model has just hit showroom floors. The MSRP on a 2012 Jeep Wrangler is $24,575 but with a $1000 cash bonus and $843 drop in price, one can be yours for only $22,732.

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