September marks the official transition in the auto business from one model year to the next. Cars and trucks on dealers’ lots that were still brand-new in August suddenly become the vehicular equivalent of day-old bread. As a result, automakers’ sales incentives tend to spike each fall to help dealers clean house of what are now last year’s models.
Unfortunately for consumers, a banner year for the auto industry means there are fewer bargains to go around this fall. Dealers have generally been able to clear their stocks of the most-popular 2011 models, particularly smaller and more-fuel efficient cars and crossover SUVs. You won’t find clearance sales on models like subcompact Honda Fit or Toyota Yaris, but if you have need for a larger vehicle, or one that’s being discontinued or redesigned, the deals are ripe for the picking.
This month we’re highlighting the 5 model-year 2011 cars and trucks that carry the absolute richest sales incentives among all vehicles.
2011 BMW Z4
Deal: $4,500 additional dealer discount and 0.9 percent financing to 36 months, 1.9 to 60 months, 2.9 to 72 months. This quick and nimble little two-seat roadster is essentially a grown-up’s toy, with svelte styling, a choice of three inline-six-cylinder engines, playful rear-drive handling and virtually zero practicality. Even though it comes with a retractable hardtop, those living in northern states will want to store it for the winter.
2011 Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra
Deal: $4,505 cash or 0.9 percent financing to 72 months. It’s unusual to find the number-two-selling vehicle in the U.S. (the Silverado) being sold with such a generous cash rebate, but General Motors obviously wants to keep the factories humming and dealer inventories light with regard to these mechanically equivalent full-size pickups. Each pleases truck loyalists with no-nonsense styling, a smooth ride, adept handling and extensive range of V6 and V8 powertrains. Both are offered in gas/electric Hybrid versions that save a few mpg, but not enough to warrant the added cost even at today's fuel prices.
2011 Cadillac STS
Deal: $9,000 additional dealer discount. Larger than the more-popular Cadillac CTS, but not quite as sporty, the STS luxury sedan is being discontinued in favor of a new model, the XTS. The STS comes adequately powered by a V6 engine and offers a choice of rear- or all-wheel-drive at the same price, with assorted high-tech features available. With a little dickering and assuming the dealer’s incentive, a smart shopper should be able to shave at least $11,000 off the MSRP.
2011 Lincoln MKT
Deal: $1,000 cash or 0.0 percent financing to 60 months, 1.9 to 72 months and $3,000 additional dealer discount. This is essentially Lincoln’s version of the Ford Flex crossover SUV, though it features far more expressive styling. It’s adequately powered by a 3.7-liter V6 engine, but really shines when fitted with the available turbocharged “Ecoboost” version that gets equivalent fuel economy. It can seat up to seven passengers in style and comfort.
2011 Chevrolet HHR
Deal: HHR LS: $3,500 cash or 0.0 percent financing to 60 months, 3.9 to 72 months; HHR LT: $4,000 additional dealer discount. Chevy’s retro-styled answer to Chrysler’s PT Cruiser likewise ends its run this fall. Designed to look like a vintage Chevrolet Suburban, the compact wagon is perhaps best suited for commercial use in its two-door panel version.
Full List: Top New-Car Deals For September