15 best new-car deals for Memorial Day weekend

After years of through-the-roof numbers, new car sales have slowed down of late — and it’s putting shoppers in the driver’s seat this Memorial Day.

U.S. News & World Report has singled out some of the better deals available this holiday weekend, with a list of its 15 best Memorial Day car deals.

“We’re seeing manufacturers offer stronger deals ahead of Memorial Day and through the Memorial Day weekend, because they really want to jump-start sales for a strong summer selling season,” explained Jamie Page Deaton, executive editor of U.S. News’ best car rankings.

Depending on the region, she said, automakers are offering low financing rates and bonus cash on various models. “It really just depends on where automakers are seeing excess inventory,” Deaton said.

These finance rates and cash back deals have been gathered by U.S News based on nationwide offers and may not apply to all dealerships in the D.C. area.

Here are U.S. News’ 15 best car deals for Memorial Day.

3 deals of note

Ford F-150: 0% financing for 72 months. It’s ranked No. 2 in U.S. News’ full-size pickup category and is the best-selling vehicle in America. It’s an excellent deal, she said, considering that a basic package starts at $30,000 and that some feature packages can double that sticker price.

“So if you’re buying a car for $62,000, $63,000, and you’re borrowing the money to do it, even at 4%, that’s going to add significantly to your overall cost. So being able to finance that purchase at 0% is going to be really, really helpful,” Deaton said.

Hyundai Kona: 0% financing for 72 months. The subcompact SUV, which she said is “really great for commuting,” is the 2019 North America Utility Vehicle of the Year and is ranked No. 1 among subcompact SUVs.

“The Kona is not nearly as expensive as the F-150, but [with] 0% financing, you’re going to save $1,500 to $2,000 on the total cost of the car if you’re able to qualify for it,” Deaton said.

Mazda MX-5 Miata: 1.9% financing for up to 72 months. U.S. News ranks the wildly popular model No. 1 among sports cars and convertibles. “They are really really good fun — particularly because it’s a drop top, but it’s comfortable enough for commuting,” she said.

The low financing stands out, Deaton said, as a rare instance of a sports car deal. Considering that the average new car financing rate is over 4%, such an offer means “some significant savings.”

Even more potential for saving money

Some car brands, Deaton said, also offer “loyalty cash” if a buyer already owns one of their models. Dealers also might offer “conquest cash” to a potential buyer if they’re trading in a competing brand’s model.

In addition, cash-back discounts are available to members of the military (both active-duty and former), as well as to teachers and recent college grads.

“You should definitely ask and see if your job or something about your history qualifies you for cash back beyond what’s available for the regional deal or the conquest or loyalty cash deals,” Deaton said.

But do the research first before heading to the dealership, she suggested. Know what a given model is going for, and be ready to negotiate the price “as hard as you can” before you start talking discounts and deals. If you’re wondering how strong your negotiating position is, she suggests checking out U.S. News’ cars page, which not only ranks models but also tracks sales and demand.

“Being able to track sales and availability makes you as powerful as the dealer in the negotiating situation, because you know what’s going on and you can use that information to your advantage,” Deaton said.

And have that credit score handy. Those 0% rates aren’t guaranteed; you have to qualify for them.

“Go online. Go find a credit union. Get quotes for financing so that when you go in, you’ll know about what kind of financing rate you qualify for. And then it’ll be up to the dealer to beat it,” she said.

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