Best Cash-Back Finds: 01.25.08

Ford, Lincoln and Mercury are dolling out pretty darn good deals through the end of February, and we had to be selective about which ones we picked for this round of our top finds. We could have gone with the Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner with decent cash back, or numerous SUVs, but we went a different way. We also added one fun-to-drive model that’s surprisingly still in decent supply. For a complete list check out's Incentives page.

2008 Ford Taurus/Mercury Sable

MSRP: $23,485/$23,780
Cash back: $2,000
Percent off MSRP: 8.4-8.5%   
Expires: 2/29/08
5-Year Ownership Costs

Just this week, Ford’s CEO said the company is going to redesign the Taurus completely for 2009. That kind of move would usually have us telling folks to wait and see, but the Taurus and Sable were just updated this year, and we just spent a week in the new Sable and found it to be a great daily driver. The new Premier trim had a pretty nice interior, too. Both also look much better in person and offer a ton of space in the second row and trunk.

2008 Nissan Sentra

MSRP: $15,830
Cash back: $1,250 or $1,000 and 3.9%/36 months financing
Percent off MSRP: 7.9% 
Expires: 2/4/08
5-Year Ownership Costs

It might not sound like the biggest deal on the block, but $1,250 off a $15,830 car is a pretty good deal. Plus, the Sentra is sneaky; it’s loaded at that price. It comes with a continuously variable automatic transmission standard, along with standard side airbags up front and side curtain ones in back, along with a tire pressure monitoring system. Plus, we think it’s a much better driving experience than the similarly priced Versa, and the interior is one of our favorites in the class.

2007 Lincoln Navigator

MSRP: $45,850
Cash back: $6,500
Percent off MSRP: 14.2% 
Expires: 3/31/08
5-Year Ownership Costs

You’re reading this list and thinking, “Of course big SUVs are getting heavy discounts -- they’re gas suckers and who would want one?” Well, Navigator sales actually inched upward in 2007. The Navigator has impressed a few of us on the staff with its pleasing ride. For a large, truck-based SUV, it’s surprisingly quiet and reassuring on the road. It also has a decent third row. We’d definitely recommend spending some of that $6,500 savings on the $1,095 optional retractable running boards. They’re a must.

2007 Mazdaspeed6

MSRP: $27,995
Cash back: $3,500
Percent off MSRP: 12.5% 
Expires: 1/31/08   
5-Year Ownership Costs Best Bet

We don’t normally list discontinued trim levels, but when it’s the sporty Mazdaspeed6, we’ll bend the rules. The Speed6 is a lot of fun to drive – obviously, it has a 270-hp turbocharged engine and road-gripping AWD – yet is still a practical midsize sedan. We only found about 20 new Mazdaspeed6s in the Chicago area, so don’t expect to find a lot in every city, but it might be worth searching. You can use’s Buy channel to search your area’s inventory.

Nissan Mazda Lincoln Mazda Mazda6 Ford Incentives

Managing Editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon.  Email David