It takes some time to get there. And lots of information. And chances are, it won’t be the deal you thought you might get. Whether that’s good news or bad is ultimately up to you. For while today’s auto market is among the best in many years, it is also more complicated than ever before. Never have there been as many choices as there are today, and thanks to what some in the business call “discount marketing,” rebates and incentives play a very large role. In the past, rebates were used during specific times as a way to reduce inventories of outgoing vehicles. It was, in essence, the automaker’s version of a department store weekend sale.
That’s sure not the case anymore. By raising suggested retail prices and then applying a layer of “automatic” rebates – so that people think they’re getting a deal – some automakers have altered the auto buying landscape much like a wildfire forever changes a canyon. With rebates now used in this expanded fashion, automakers can control sales virtually month-to-month or quarter-to-quarter, simply by cranking up discounts until people can’t resist what looks like a fire sale with once-in-a-lifetime prices. Like a spastic yo-yo, sales respond – first, records are broken and then precipitous drops occur as available vehicles decline and discounts are pulled back.
And then the roller coaster begins again. For car buyers, all of this gimmickry means one thing:Jjust because you’ve got a big rebate doesn’t mean you’re getting a good price. And, just because you’ve got a good price – that doesn’t mean you have a good deal, until you factor in four additional elements; record of dependability, competition, fuel efficiency and safety ratings. Once you’re satisfied that the car you’d like to buy measures up, the most important buying criteria comes front and center – whether you like sitting behind the wheel. If so, you’ve got yourself a good buy – and if it’s one of the vehicles listed here, we truly have put together a Top Ten list of best buys for the month.