- Service members can get discounts on many auto brands
- Official programs include permanent deals and limited rebates
- Some price breaks available only overseas
For our men and women in uniform, coming home often means having to start fresh on the automotive front. Many military folks sell their rides before deploying overseas, and many others are gone long enough that they need new ones on returning-or even while they're still deployed.
Fortunately, automakers frequently feature military-only incentives here in the U.S., and overseas delivery is possible in some cases. We surveyed the mainstream brands-alas, Lamborghini doesn't do discounts- and it turns out that most of them offer appealing military benefits.
To help you navigate this sometimes perplexing terrain, we've compiled an up-to-date list by manufacturer for 2012. If your favorite brand doesn't have an official military program, remember that local dealers regularly advertise military discounts of their own, so it never hurts to ask. Also, since the eligibility requirements tend to be quite specific, make sure you read the fine print.
Earlier this year, BMW and its MINI small-car division partnered with the United Services Automobile Association (USAA) to bring military discounts to current and former service members living on U.S. soil. USAA boasts nearly nine million subscribers and has itself partnered with TrueCar.com to provide up-to-the-minute pricing and inventory data. According to the USAA website, the average buyer saves $4,606 off MSRP. We took a glance at current BMW promotions and saw cash-back bonuses of up to $6,000 on 6 Series and 7 Series models.
For those stationed abroad, BMW Military Sales offers overseas delivery of U.S.-spec models. Prices are non-negotiable but reportedly well below American MSRPs. Buyers typically have the cars delivered to their bases and then shipped home when their deployments finish, although it's also possible to have a car shipped directly to the U.S. if circumstances dictate.
In the U.S., most Chrysler, Dodge, FIAT, Jeep, and Ram vehicles have a $500 military discount on the hood by default. Keep an eye peeled, though, as Chrysler is offering a total of $1,000 cash back to troops through May 28, and similar deals could materialize throughout the year. USAA members may be eligible for up to $1,000 in additional savings.
For personnel outside our borders, Chrysler turns to a company called the Overseas Military Sales Group, which sells and delivers select U.S.-spec Chrysler products through its Exchange New Car Sales (ENCS) division, purportedly at a discount. As with BMW Military Sales, direct stateside delivery is also an option.
For those residing in the U.S., Ford's Military Appreciation Program sweetens the deal with $500 cash back on any Ford purchase. Ford and Lincoln are part of the ENCS portfolio, so overseas personnel can have their Ford products built to order and delivered to their doorsteps.
Cadillac fans are out of luck, but if you don't mind sticking with Buick, Chevrolet or GMC, you can find some pretty sweet stateside deals. The military discount is determined on a model-by-model basis via GM's own Preferred Price program, which ensures sub-MSRP pricing, and USAA members enjoy up to an extra $750 off.
Sadly for those stationed elsewhere, GM has discontinued its relationship with ENCS, so there's currently no formal overseas delivery channel.
Since Honda and its premium Acura brand generally don't promote military discounts at the national level, it's up to individual dealers and their regional networks. A source at Honda tells us that local military discounts are fairly common, so it may be worth waiting for one or expanding your search to include more distant dealerships.
For folks on duty in Europe, ENCS will deliver select U.S.-spec Honda models; Acuras, however, are not eligible.
For a niche luxury brand, Jaguar has a surprisingly robust overseas military program. Special pricing applies, and the sales agreement includes free shipping back to the U.S. within three years. However, Jaguar does not offer discounted pricing here at home.
Under its Military Appreciation Bonus Program, Mazda offers $500 cash back to qualified U.S. customers. The current offer expires on May 28.
Stateside military discounts on Mercedes products vary by region and are available through USAA. Although Mercedes does not offer special discounts to overseas service members, its regular European delivery program is an appealing option, providing attractive pricing and a red-carpet welcome.
Nissan offers a monthly batch of stateside-only military discounts on both its mainstream models and its premium Infiniti lineup. The fixed-price discounts on Nissans promise to be "at or below dealer invoice," while Infiniti discounts may fall above invoice but should remain enticing.
While Toyota offers a pretty standard $500 military bonus to stateside buyers, its Lexus luxury division ups the ante with $750 cash back on most models, and the youth-oriented Scion brand surprisingly trumps them all with a whopping $1,000 on the hood of every 2012 model. Note that many popular Toyota models can be delivered to military personnel in Europe via a sister division of ENCS known as Auto Exchange Online (AEO).
Like Jaguar, Volvo maintains an aggressive military discount program. Common benefits include 10 percent off MSRP and 40 percent off optional equipment. Also like Jaguar, Volvo offers these discounts only to personnel stationed overseas.