Summer is in full swing, and just weeks after their compilation of the best car deals for Memorial Day, U.S. News & World Report has put together their best purchase and leasing deals for the Fourth of July.
Jamie Page Deaton, executive editor of U.S. News’ best car rankings, told WTOP that automakers are back with another round of cash-back and financing offers so soon because “new car sales are still soft.”
Part of it, she said, is cyclical: “Frankly, a lot of consumer demand has already been met. Everybody who was going to buy a car in the last couple of years has already bought one.” Automakers are also keeping a nervous eye on the economic picture, thanks to “uncertainty around tariffs and other aspects of the economy.”
Even if it’s a good deal, a new car still requires shelling out a lot of money, so the deals below, Deaton said, “aren’t necessarily the cars that have biggest discounts. For us, it’s not a good deal unless it’s on a good car.”
The deals are based on nationwide offers; they may not be at every D.C.-area dealership. U.S. News published their list a little early compared with previous years; Deaton said prospective buyers should check back with their list — they’re updating it continuously as the holiday approaches.
Some of the most exciting deals, Deaton said, include the Honda Pilot, which can be had for 0.9% financing for 26 months. “It was a finalist for our Best Cars for Families awards,” she said.
And the Genesis G70 is “a very good small luxury car,” Deaton added. “It’s comparable to the Audi A4, and this deal makes it a lot more affordable.”
Once the province of business buyers and those interested in luxury cars, leases are now available on more affordable cars.
Leasing deals make up a good proportion of U.S. News’ list, and Deaton said there’s a good reason leasing has become more popular: “With a good lease deal, you can get into a new car every three years of so, which gets you on the cutting edge of safety tech and entertainment tech.”
One example, Deaton said: The 2020 Toyota Corolla, which can be had for $219 a month for 36 months. “That is a really low payment for a brand-new car,” Deaton said. “That’s less than the cellphone bill for my family.”
Cash-back deals constitute a good way to save thousands on the price of a car, and they’re more accessible than low- or no-interest financing deals, which “You do need to have excellent credit to qualify for,” Deaton said.
But a good cash back deal can save you “as much or more, especially if you weren’t going to qualify for the financing deal in the first place.”
Two prime examples, she said, include $3,000 cash back on the Hyundai Tucson SUV, and $3,000 back on the Toyota Avalon, which Deaton called basically the most luxurious Toyota you can get.”
There’s a hidden appeal to the Avalon, too: “What I think a lot of people might not realize is that when you’re buying a super-luxurious Toyota, what you’re effectively getting is an affordable Lexus, because Lexus is Toyota’s luxury brand.”
Get financing first
Whatever car you’re buying, whatever deal you’re taking, Deaton had one piece of universal advice — have some kind of financing deal worked out before you head into the dealer.
The average new-car loan has an interest rate of 4.5% to 5%, Deaton said, whereas unless you get a great financing deal from a dealership, you’ll pay 6% to 7%.
“See if you can qualify for the low-interest or no-interest financing deal; if not, you already have a great financing rate locked in, and you can take advantage of the cash back deal instead.”
It only takes a few minutes to apply for a car loan on sites such as LendingTree.com; there’s a section on the U.S. News website where you can do it too. You can also go to your own bank or credit union. That way, Deaton said, “what you do is walk into the dealership with effectively a check from your bank. You know the interest rate; you know the payment you’re going to get.
“And what that does is, it tells the dealer — who also wants to give you financing — ‘I already have this deal in hand; you need to beat it if you want my business for your financing arm.’ And that is a great position for consumers to be in.”