New-Car Deals: March 2016

CARS.COM — The auto industry logged a pretty good sales month in February despite some creeping economic head winds. Shoppers continued to pile into SUVs, and sales for trucks, SUVs and minivans rose a combined 12.8 percent in February, according to Automotive News. Meanwhile sales of sedans, coupes, wagons, hatchbacks and convertibles were down 0.6 percent.

Related: Top 10 Best-Selling Cars: February 2016

Of the 20 nameplates whose numbers slid the most among the industry's 100 best-selling models, 13 were cars, and some of those cars have big deals this month. Here are a few that could save you some green — just in time for St. Patrick's Day.

We checked the deals in six major cities across the country, but offers may vary by region. See your dealer for specifics, and remember that advertised financing deals typically require good credit.

Dodge Dart

This is hardly the first time Dodge has offered big deals on its small car, whose sales slid 8.6 percent in February. That was versus a strong year-ago month, but Dodge is still piling on the deals as the Dart heads toward eventual extinction.

  • How much could I save on a 2016 Dart? A ton. Dodge has $2,750 in cash rebates on the Dart's GT and Limited trims, or $2,250 on the midlevel SXT across most areas, with incentives as high as $3,250 in some areas. Note, however, that the base SE and high-efficiency Aero trims get a lot less ($1,250).
  • What if I want discount financing instead? Dodge offers 0.9 percent for 36 months, but you also can get 2.9 percent for up to 84 months plus $500 off.
  • What about any leftover 2015s? You should be able to find them and save even more. In Cars.com national inventory, 23.6 percent of new Dart sedans are still 2015s, and cash rebates range all the way up to $3,000 on GT and Limited editions. In some areas those incentives go as high as $3,500.
  • When do the deals expire? April 4.

Chrysler 200

Like the Dart, the Chrysler 200 is on its way out, at least eventually. Sales tanked 58.3 percent in February. That's versus a banner February 2015, but the sales slump is undeniable. Unsurprisingly, the deals in March are high.

  • How much could I save on a 2016 200? Quite a bit. Chrysler offers $2,500 to $3,500 off various trims, with some areas offering as much as $5,000 to $6,000 off for certain versions, though in some cases you have to trade in a competitive vehicle. Note that the base (LX) model doesn't have cash rebates, however.
  •  What if I want discount financing instead? Chrysler offers 3.84 percent for 60 months on the LX, while shoppers can get 1.9 percent for 84 months plus $500 in bonus cash on other trims. Those trims are also eligible for zero-percent financing for 60 months plus bonus cash that ranges from $500 to $1,000.
  • What about any leftover 2015s? Leftover 2015s still make up 10 percent of new 200 inventory on Cars.com, but Chrysler doesn't list any incentives for them.
  • When do the deals expire? April 4.

Hyundai Elantra

Hyundai dealers are awash in redesigned 2017 Elantra sedans, but there are still plenty of 2016 sedans and GT hatchbacks on the lots. Shoppers apparently cared little for both cars in February: Sales fell 23.8 percent, and that's versus an also-bad February 2015.

  • How much could I save on a 2017 Elantra? Not much, as you might expect for a redesign. Hyundai offers $500 in loyalty cash for current owners who want to buy a 2017 Elantra, but that's it. There are no listed financing offers on the car, either.
  • What about the 2016 Elantra? Here's where the savings pile up. Hyundai offers $1,750 to $2,500 on the outgoing 2016 Elantra sedan, which still makes up a significant chunk of inventory. You also may qualify for deals if you own another Hyundai or a competitors' car; Hyundai has bonus and conquest deals worth $500 apiece. That means you could get as much as $3,000 off a 2016 Elantra — a serious deal for an affordable sedan that still ranked second among seven compact cars just a few years ago.
  • What about the Elantra GT? On the Elantra GT hatchback, the savings are still big. Hyundai offers $2,000 off the GT, plus the loyalty or conquest deals.
  • What if I want to finance a 2016 Elantra? Hyundai offers zero percent for up to 72 months plus $1,500 in bonus cash on the 2016 Elantra sedan. On the 2016 Elantra GT, shoppers can get zero percent for 60 months plus $1,000 in bonus cash.
  • Any deals on leftover 2015s? None that are listed, but it would be almost impossible to find one anyway. Elantra new-car inventory on Cars.com, including the GT, splits nearly down the middle between 2017s and 2016s. The 2015 Elantra accounts for just 0.6 percent of the pile.
  • When do the deals expire? March 31.

Volkswagen Passat

In the throes of a diesel crisis, Volkswagen offers significant incentives — though not all of them appear to be published. Passat sales took a dive in February, down 30.6 percent versus last year. March deals are significant, if a bit unconventional.

  • How much could I save on a 2016 Passat? More than $1,000, essentially in the form of a gift card. VW offers a $1,250 Visa prepaid debit card for anyone who buys a 2016 Passat, which you can spend anywhere that accepts it.
  • What if I want discount financing instead? The gift card still comes with VW's discount financing offer, which amounts to zero percent for 60 months.
  • What about any leftover 2015s? You should be able to find a few, given that 2015 models account for 16.3 percent of all new Passat inventory on Cars.com. They're eligible for the same $1,250 gift card, but VW ties the financing offer to 2016 Passat sedans only.
  • When do the deals expire? April 4.

What About SUVs?

Gas prices are still cheap, so SUVs are hot. We didn't find many noteworthy deals among the most-popular SUVs that dropped their February sales, but that's an admittedly small group. If you want a deal, check out the Chevrolet Traverse: Sales bucked the SUV trend and fell 5.6 percent last month, and Chevrolet offers $1,250 off the Traverse through March 31 in all the areas we checked. You can also get financing at zero percent for 60 months, but Chevrolet excludes certain base models from both deals.

 

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