2011 Acura RL

The car deals in December are dazzling and… daunting. With holiday specials including everything from door prizes to big cash, incentives range from the sublime to over-the-top. For instance, a BMW 128 coupe is going for a mere $399 per month with no money down, a lease on a Hyundai Sonata sedan is being advertised for as little as $199 per month. There’s zero percent financing for a variety of Infiniti models and Lexus’ December to Remember offers 1.9% financing for up to 60 months on the Lexus IS 250 and ES 350 models. Of course dealers are anxious to get rid of their 2010 leftovers – the longer they have the 2010 models the more it costs to keep them – but that doesn’t exclude great savings on 2011 models.

TrueCar.com, a company that tracks new car pricing trends, reports that the average price for new cars in November 2010 was down $715 as compared to November 2009, and down $435 from October of 2010. The company also assessed that manufacturers spent more on incentives in November resulting in bigger buyer discounts. “Even though incentives appear to be slightly higher this year, automakers are becoming smarter by focusing on low APR and special lease programs – strategies with relatively low costs due to near zero interest rates and much improved residual values,” said Jesse Toprak, VP of Industry Trends and Insights at TrueCar.

When Consumer Reports created their list of 126 vehicles for the best deals of December, they measured models that have performed well in over 50 tests, have average or better predicted reliability and meet the organization’s standards for safety and crash protection.

“When we put together our list, we filter them through what we feel is a good car. When we say ‘good’ we mean cars that perform well in our tests and are safe and reliable,” Jeff Bartlett, Automotive Editor of Consumer Reports, told AutoTrader. “There are often hugely ridiculous discounts on some cars but they’re not what we could consider safe or worthy. In the end we’re looking at good cars not great deals on any old cars.”

But, Consumer Reports does not delve into incentives versus financing. Bottom line–these kinds of deals tend to be regional. Bartlett explained, “We consider all the options and look at what applies to you. We focus on the national dollar incentives because those are applicable to everyone.”

December’s list has a handful of Mercurys, which understandably have higher incentives due to Ford’s decision to eliminate the brand. But don’t let that stop you, maintains Bartlett. He noted, “These cars are clones of Fords and can be serviced by Ford. In general, the legendary Mercury has nicer equipment and nicer interiors. It was intended as a step up for the customer,” said Bartlett.

The list is also heavy on pick-up trucks due to the categories inherently large profit margin.

Following, a sampling of CR’s picks with Total Savings – a combination of Customer Cash, Dealer Cash and Dealer Holdback. Note: Since Dealer Holdback is based on a percentage of the vehicle’s MSRP, the numbers aren’t as even as the incentives. For the complete list visit: www.consumerreports.org/deals.


Total Available Savings:

Small Cars:

2010 Honda Civic Hybrid CVT : $2976

2011 Nissan Sentra 2.0 SL CVT : $2852


Family sedans:

2010 Mercury Milan I4 Hybrid : $4845

2011 Chevrolet Malibu 1LT : $3685


Luxury sedans:

2010 Cadillac DTS 1 LT: $9546

2010 Acura RL 3.7 Auto: $5405  


Full sized pick-ups:

2010 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT 4 x4 Crew Cab : $6038

2010 Chevrolet Avalanche 4WD Avalanche LT : $6256



2010 Volvo XC70 3.2 AWD A: $5880


Mid-sized SUV:

2011Chevrolet Equinox AWD 1LT: $2332


Large Sport-Utility Vehicle:

2011 Ford Flex SEL AWD: $2,512

author photo

Holly Reich writes about cars, travel, lifestyle and more. Her work has been featured in publications that include: Elite Traveler, The New York Daily News, The Washington Post and The Boston Herald. She contributes monthly to Motor Matters syndicate and her blog, "Riffs on Rides," appears on uptownlife.net.

Related Articles & Car Reviews

Find Cars for sale near you:

Research by Vehicle Type

  • Convertible
  • Coupe
  • Hatchback
  • Hybrid
  • Luxury
  • Sedan
  • SUV
  • Truck
  • Van/Minivan
  • Wagon

Shopping Tools

Loading Ajax Content Loading Ajax Content