The much-anticipated final season of "Game of Thrones" debuts Sunday, exactly one day before the deadline in 48 states to file your federal tax return. Procrastinators nationwide: Don't risk any number of IRS penalties on account of Westeros. Samwell Tarly can wait; Uncle Sam will not.
For those who already filed, refunds are averaging $2,640 per taxpayer, the IRS said as of mid-February. That brings us to a second bit of advice: If the clunker in your driveway is as decrepit as Harrenhal, your spring windfall could help a lot with the down payment on its replacement.
Which new cars have high discounts? Fewer than in years past. Incentives continue to slide, with J.D. Power reporting average discounts down $119 year-over-year to $3,821 per new car sold in the first quarter of 2019. Nevertheless, we still found a few deal-heavy candidates — particularly from GM, which has a slew of high-percentage discounts this month.
Two such cars are among our selections for April 2019. And for readers who crow that our deals so often highlight sedans and hatchbacks as opposed to the SUVs that shoppers seem to want, April is a veritable feast — here's a four-pack of SUVs, y'all.
How much can I save? Enough to recall the salad days of new-car discounts some three years ago. Now through April 30, Buick is offering 14 percent off MSRP nationwide for all shoppers, said Stuart Fowle, a spokesman for parent company GM. Those who finance at standard rates through the automaker can get another 2 percent atop that, for a total of 16 percent off. It comes as Encore sales plunged 35.2 percent in March, per Automotive News' estimate (GM only reports sales on a quarterly basis). Granted, that's versus a record year-ago month, but the 2019 Encore still averaged 86 days on dealer lots in March 2019, well past the 54-day average for all 2019 models.
The discounts don't apply to the Encore's base 1SV trim level because Buick considers base trims "as a best-offer, no-haggle type of thing," Fowle said. "You'll never see a 1SV with incentives."
What about discount financing? Buick didn't advertise any discount rates as of this writing, so you'll likely need to finance at standard rates.
But the current-generation Encore is older than "Game of Thrones" itself. Not quite. GM took the wraps off the SUV in early 2012, seven months after HBO finished airing Season 1. With so many years under its belt, Buick's tiny trucklet has plenty of reliability data, and the track record is solid. Still, old roots can mean missing technology, and the Encore lacks automatic emergency braking, a must-have safety feature.
How much can I save? More than 10 percent, in some regions. Through July 1, Ford is offering $2,000 to $4,000 off the 2019 Escape depending on region and in some cases trim level. That comes as Escape sales fell 19.6 percent in March, by Automotive News' estimate (Ford, like GM, only reports quarterly sales) and model-year 2019 examples of the SUV averaged 69 days on dealer lots.
What about discount financing? Now through July 1, Ford is offering to qualified shoppers zero percent financing for 60 months, plus $1,000 in some markets.
Isn't this one on its last legs, too? Yes, and a redesign comes this fall. We kept the Escape off our 2019 Compact SUV Challenge because of just that, but it finished mid-pack in our 2017 Compact SUV Challenge and topped the class in our 2016 comparison — not bad for an SUV whose current generation debuted clear back in late 2011. Spotty crash-test ratings and no automatic emergency braking are significant knocks against the Escape, but it remains a ride-and-handling benchmark in the class.
How much can I save? An amount worthy of an Encore. Now through April 30, Buick's fellow GM brand GMC is offering 14 percent off all Terrain trim levels save the base SL model, with another 2 percent for those who finance at normal rates through the automaker. That's a national offer available to everyone, Fowle confirmed. It comes as Automotive News estimates Terrain sales fell 31.8 percent in March. Again, that's versus a record year-ago March, but model-year 2019 Terrains needed 55 days to sell last month on average — a tick beyond all 2019 models.
What about discount financing? GMC didn't advertise any discount rates as of this writing, so you'll likely need to finance at standard rates.
Can't I just buy a Chevrolet Equinox and save the money instead? While it's true that the Terrain's platform sibling from Chevrolet (also a GM brand) starts a little cheaper, Chevy's current discounts — a whopping 20 percent off — have more strings attached, requiring you to finance with GM and own a competitive vehicle.
Editor's Choice: Kia Sportage
How much can I save? Through April 30, Kia is offering $2,000 to $3,000 off depending on region and in some cases trim level. It comes as Sportage sales tumbled 17.9 percent in March; that's versus a best-ever March for the nameplate a year ago, but the SUV still averaged 73 days on dealer lots last month. Ahead of a planned refresh for the 2020 model year, the 2019 Sportage is ripe for the picking.
What about discount financing? It varies. In some regions, qualified shoppers can get zero percent financing plus $500 to $1,000 depending on trim and region. In some regions, however, Kia isn't advertising anything.
Is it any good? Enough that this isn't the Sportage's first time as an Editor's Choice among our monthly best deals. Kia last redesigned the SUV for the 2017 model year, and we ranked the SUV second out of five SUVs in a subsequent comparison test thanks to a responsive drivetrain and straightforward controls. Those credentials live on, and the Kia's corporate sibling — the Tucson from affiliated automaker Hyundai — landed a podium finish among seven contenders in this year's 2019 Compact SUV Challenge.
More From Cars.com:
- What's the Best Compact SUV for 2019?
- Can Revamped 2020 Ford Escape Take on the Compact SUV Competition?
- Which SUVs Have the Best Pedestrian Detection Systems?
- Can Buying a Car Drive Down Student Debt? Hyundai Assures You It Can
- How to Win the Car Financing Game
We focus on cars new to the list or ones we haven't highlighted in the past few months. But a few cars from recent months still have deep discounts in March:
How We Look for Deals
To look for April deals, we considered year-to-date sales among the top 100 best-selling cars, specifically eyeing models whose sales underperformed the market in March. We also looked at days-to-turn data from March, which measures how long it takes on average for dealers to sell a given car. Both factors illustrate March's slow sellers, cars on which dealers could be more willing to cut a deal.
Finally, we looked at factory cash discounts and low-interest-rate financing offers that are especially high for the price of the car. After all, $3,000 is a lot more on a Ford Escape than a Ford Expedition.
Sales and incentives data come from Automotive News and automakers' websites, while days-to-turn data come from J.D. Power. Remember, our numbers are current as of publication for the markets we survey (generally Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles and New York). They reflect advertised customer discounts, not unadvertised factory-to-dealer cash. Discount financing typically requires qualifying credit, too, and incentives may vary by region and trim level; automakers may also change them later in the month. In sum: Your discounts may vary, so check with your local dealer for specifics.
Cars.com's Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com's long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don't accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com's advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.