The big push is on to move 2006 models off dealer lots with some truly giant rebates and lots of low-cost financing deals being announced this week.
Most manufacturers are offering car buyers a choice of either cash back or cheap loans. Some manufacturers are still offering 0% financing on some 2006 models.
Of course the best deals are on pickups, minivans and sport-utility vehicles that have not sold well since gas rose to $3 a gallon.
But a deal's a deal if you're in the market for a new car or truck, there are a lot of money-saving opportunities out there.
Chrysler is offering 0% financing for 36 months on most of its 2006 models, and up to 60 months of 0% interest payments on Town & Country minivan and Pacifica crossover. Or, you can get cash allowances from $750 to $1,250 on the popular 300 Sedans and up to a $4,000 discount on some minivans.
Jeep is also offering cash allowances of up to $3,500 on the Commander and Grand Cherokee SUVs, or 0% financing for 60 months. The Jeep Liberty and Wrangler come with lower cash allowances, but the Liberty also has the 0% for 60 months.
We found a few other deals that are intriguing:
Saab is offering 0% financing for its 2006 9-3, 9-5 and 97X models, and $5,000 cash back plus a $500 bonus on the 9-2X.
Lincoln is offering $7,000 cash back on the Town Car and $8,000 cash back on the Lincoln LS, or you can choose 0% financing for 60 months on either model, or 2.9% financing for 72 months. The Navigator SUV comes with $5,500 cash back or 0%-5.9% financing from 36-72 months.
Kia has 3.9% to 5.9% financing or cash back on many of its models, with others combining a low APR with a cash bonus. But the best deal from Kia is on the 2006 Sorrento, which features 0% financing for up to 60 months or 2.9% for 72 months or a $4,000 rebate.
In spite of a 17% increase in sales for August, Toyota still has 2006 models it wants to unload. The best deal is on the Sequoia full-size SUV, which is available with 0%, 1.9% and 2.9% financing for 36, 48 or 60 months, respectively, or up to $3,000 cash back.
Similarly, the Sienna minivan offers 1.9%-3.9% financing with up to $2,000 cash back. The Highlander and the 4Runner, both SUVs, have low APR financing or up to $2,000 rebates. The Camry Solara offers $500 cash back.
Chevrolet was the first in the GM stable to come out with its September incentive package for 2006 models. Most cars have the option of 4.9% financing or a cash allowance that ranges from $500 to $1,500, depending on the model.
The best deals are on Impala, Malibu Maxx and the Malibu that does not have the L61 engine. You can get a $1500 cash rebate on these cars or 0% financing on a limited contract. On the other hand, there are no rebates available on the 2006 Aveo, but you can get up to 4.9% financing on these hatchbacks.
As you might suspect, we are big fans of low-cost loans. Typical manufacturers' offers are based on the length of the payments, such as 0% for 24 months, 2.9% for 36 months, 3.9% for 48 months, or 4.9% for 60 months.
These rates are far less than what you'd pay for the typical auto loan and they can save you a ton of money.
Let's say you were borrowing $20,000 for 60 months at 7.94%, which is national average in our most recent survey. You'd be paying $405 a month and $4,314 in interest over the life of the loan.
But at 4.99% your payment drops to $377 a month and you only pay $2,640 in interest or 38% less.
Mazda doesn't have 0% financing, but it is offering up to $3,500 in customer cash plus either a $500 or $1,000 MAC bonus.
And even Jaguar is jumping in, offering its 2006 X-Type 3.0 and X-Type Sportwagon at 1.9% for up to 60 months.
That's why you should know about all the incentives available before you go shopping and absolutely before you begin bargaining.