What's the Best New-Car Deal for May 2018?

Springtime car-nivores on the hunt for a new vehicle, your time for tasty deals has arrived. May wraps up a fallow period for incentives and Memorial Day weekend kicks off the traditional start of peak car-shopping season — and with overall new-vehicle sales down nearly 5 percent through April, there's every reason to believe the holiday could spring some unusually sweet discounts this year.

Related: How to Use Incentives, Rebates and Finance Deals

We'll have to see what automakers cook up in the coming weeks, but for now, there are still a handful of deals worth your while. Which are they? Read on to find out.

2018 Hyundai Elantra

Hyundai Elantra

How much can I save? A pretty decent chunk of change. Now through May 31, you can get as much as $2,500 off any 2018 Elantra sedan, which is in the neighborhood of 14 percent off if you're eyeing the base SE trim — a trim that constituted around 25 percent of Cars.com's Elantra inventory on May 7 and starts at $17,835 with an $885 destination fee.

What about discount financing? Qualified borrowers can get zero percent financing for up to 60 months. If you're willing to finance through Hyundai's credit arm, you can get zero percent for up to 72 months.

Competitive sheep shearing seems more exciting than driving one of these. Fair enough, but when it comes to features for the money, the Elantra is an absolute unit: In addition to being awarded Top Safety Pick Plus by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Elantra scored nearly perfect in our Car Seat Check and features multimedia must-haves like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, dual-zone climate control, memory functions for the power driver's seat and side mirrors, and Blue Link telematics (red and white not included).

2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Jeep Grand Cherokee

How much can I save? Trim levels are crucial when it comes to finding the most money off. You can save as much as $4,500 off a Limited 4x4, while most trims come with $3,000 cash back through the end of May — and it can be as much as $5,000 if you finance through the credit arm of Jeep parent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. 

What about discount financing? If you're willing to go through FCA's credit arm, you can get as much as $2,500 cash back on top of zero percent financing for 36 months.

Other than a devotion to all things domestic, why would I buy it? Careful there, Captain America — where cars are built can be more complex than you think (and if that's how you shop, we suggest looking at a Wrangler or Cherokee instead, which ranked first and second, respectively, in our 2017 American Made Index). But the Grand Cherokee has definite upsides despite its dead-last finish in our mid-size SUV comparison from a few years back: If power is your priority and you have off-road or towing ambitions, but you also aspire to carpooling duty someday, the Grand will get the job done with its base 295-hp, 3.6-liter V-6, formidable Uconnect multimedia system and ability to hold three car seats in the back. And if people power is your priority, the Grand Cherokee topped Cars.com's People's Vote in January.

2018 Nissan Versa

Nissan Versa

How much can I save? Depending on where you live, enough to make the Versa subcompact sedan worth a second look if you're in pursuit of wallet-saving wheels. With Versas sitting on dealer lots for an average of 79 days through the first third of 2018 — well above the 54-day average for new cars — now might be the time to pounce on the American market's most affordable car. Through May 31, shoppers can save $1,000 off all versions of Nissan's most inexpensive offering, the base S trim — nearly 8 percent off the $12,995 list price with destination.

What about discount financing? Through May 31, qualified buyers can get zero percent financing for up to 60 months with $500 back in select markets, or 1.9 percent for up to 72 months.

I'm looking at this because I spent all my money on grilling supplies and have no other options. We hear you (sort of); the high wind noise and sluggish transmission aren't anyone's idea of an ideal drive, and Nissan's paltry 109-horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder won't do you any on-ramp favors, either. On the other hand, the S comes with a five-speed manual transmission, and if we can figure out ways to have fun in a 78-hp, 1.2-liter three-cylinder Mitsubishi Mirage GT, imagine what 31 extra horsepower and a good route to the cookout could do for you.

2018 Ford Fusion

Editor's Choice: Ford Fusion

How much can I save? This is another one that depends on the trim. For lower S and SE trims, you can save up to $4,000 now through the end of May; with Titanium and Platinum models, the figure is as high as $4,750.

What about discount financing? Qualifier buyers can receive 2.9 percent financing for 84 months if they go through Ford's credit arm.

This pick should've been an SUV, that most American of vehicles. Ford would agree with you; despite a refresh for 2019, the automaker's scything of sedans includes the Fusion and will play out over the remaining years of the car's current generation. With sales falling nearly 23 percent in April, the Fusion is part of the sedan's stateside decline despite heavy involvement in driverless pizza delivery. Even so, IIHS awarded the 2018 Fusion Top Safety Pick status and its value was the only serious sticking point when we reviewed the similar 2017 model, so if you're thinking a traditional family sedan, these discounts could help make up your mind.

The Returnees

We focus on cars new to the list or ones we haven't highlighted in the past few months. But many cars from recent months still have deep discounts in May:

2018 Chevrolet Cruze
2018 Chevrolet Malibu
2018 GMC Acadia
2018 GMC Sierra 1500
2018 Hyundai Sonata
2018 Kia Optima
2018 Ram 1500

How We Look for Deals

To look for May deals, we considered sales through April among the top 100 best-selling cars, specifically eyeing models whose sales underperformed the market. We also looked at days-to-turn data from April, which measures how long it takes on average for dealers to sell a given car. Both factors illustrate April'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, $2,000 is a lot more on a Ford Focus than a Ford Explorer.

Sales and incentives data come from Automotive News and automakers' websites, while days-to-turn data come from J.D. Power and Associates. 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.

 
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