If you missed some smashing new-car deals for the Labor Day weekend, don’t fret. Although the informal kickoff to autumn is a prime time for new-car deals, the month that follows isn’t too shabby. September has ranked among the top three months for new-car incentives during each of the past five years, according to Motor Intelligence — and discounts are back on the rise, up year-over-year from June through August after nine straight months of ebbing.
What’s worth a gander this month? Read on to find out.
How much can I save? From 11 to 19 percent, depending on the specifics. In August, the 2019 Trax averaged 84 days to sell, which exceeded the 75-day August average for all 2019 models. Now through Sept. 30, Chevrolet is offering $3,500 off the 2019 Trax, with another $750 atop that in select markets. The deal expires Sept. 30.
What about discount financing? In lieu of cash discounts, qualified shoppers can get zero percent financing for 72 months plus $750. Like the cash discounts, the financing offer expires Sept. 30.
But the current-generation Trax placed last versus six rivals four years ago. Yes, but Chevrolet improved it noticeably with a refresh for the 2017 model year. The SUV lacks automatic emergency braking — an important safety feature — at any level, but it has respectable crash-test ratings and a decent track record for reliability. At this point, you could do worse.
How much can I save? From about 8 to 17 percent, depending on specifics. The Escape averaged 94 days to sell in August. Now through Sept. 30, Ford is offering $2,750 to $4,500, depending on region and trim level, off the 2019 model. In some markets, select inventory is eligible for additional bonuses of $1,000 to $1,500 for those who trade in their old car.
What about discount financing? Eligible shoppers can get 3.9 percent financing for up to 84 months. In some markets, certain older inventory is eligible for zero percent financing for 60 months plus $2,500 if you’re trading in a vehicle.
But the Escape’s crash-test ratings concern me. Not to pile on, but so should its lack of automatic emergency braking at any trim level. Still, Ford’s popular SUV has a good history of reliability, and, ahead of its 2020 model-year redesign, it’s steeply discounted — and speaking of that redesign, it has automatic emergency braking standard. If you want to hold out, the 2020 Escape hits dealers this fall.
How much can I save? Some 9 to 20 percent in typical situations, depending on specifics. The 2019 Renegade averaged 78 days to sell in August, and now through Sept. 30, Jeep is offering $2,750 to $5,250 off the tiny SUV in most cases, depending on trim level and region. In certain areas and on certain trim levels, shoppers who finance through Jeep parent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles can get another $500. The totals vary considerably depending on market, with some deals limited to a certain percentage of inventory. For markets in California we surveyed, Jeep advertised a pile of additional offers for those who finance through Chrysler to reach a mammoth $8,000 off select inventory on the front-drive Renegade Limited.
… That’s almost 30 percent off. What if I booked a one-way ticket to the Golden State and drove it back? Don’t waste your time. Residency restrictions apply, which means only Californians are eligible for the deal. That offer is also limited to just 20 percent of dealer inventory, includes discounts for those with low (yes, really) credit and requires financing with Chrysler. All told, it’s likely few shoppers will actually secure it.
What about discount financing? Qualified shoppers can get zero percent financing for 36 months plus $500 to $2,750, depending on trim and region, also through the end of September.
But the Renegade’s reliability history is bothersome. Yes, it’s concerning. But the most discounted cars aren’t always the best ones.
Editor’s Choice: Ram 1500
How much can I save? Off the popular Big Horn trim level or its counterpart at Texas dealerships, the Lone Star, a lot. The Ram 1500 is Cars.com’s favorite pickup truck of 2019, but it dallied at dealers 100 days on average in August. And those two trim levels, which together account for nearly half of the new 2019 model-year Ram 1500 inventory on Cars.com, now have the deepest discounts. Through Sept. 30, Ram is offering $4,000 to $5,750 off the Big Horn or Lone Star, depending on the region and configuration, with another $500 to $1,000 — again, depending on configuration and region — for those who finance at standard rates through Ram parent FCA.
Discounts soar well beyond that in Texas, amounting to $10,500 off select Lone Star crew cabs with short beds and rear-wheel drive. That’s a deal worth skipping the Cowboys game (OK, maybe DVRing it) to grab, but read the fine print: Ram says the incentive, which is based on a statewide survey of dealer-level negotiated discounts, can vary based on options, financing and availability, among other factors.
What about discount financing? On the Big Horn or Lone Star, qualified shoppers can get zero percent financing for up to 60 months plus $1,500 to $3,250, depending on region and configuration as well as if you finance through FCA.
But I already see information for the 2020 Ram 1500. Are there any 2019s left? Lots. As of this writing, some three-fourths of new Ram 1500 examples on Cars.com are still the 2019 model year.
What about the 2019 Ram 1500 Classic? Discounts are substantial — to be expected for the outgoing generation of the pickup truck, which is sold alongside the redesign as a fellow 2019 model. But availability is dwindling: As of this writing, the Ram 1500 Classic accounts for just 14 percent of all new Ram 1500 inventory on Cars.com.
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- Glossary of Car Leasing Terms
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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 September:
How We Look for Deals
To look for September deals, we looked at days-to-turn data from August — specifically Aug. 1-24, the window we gathered the data — which measures how long it takes on average for dealers to sell a given car. That illustrates slow sellers, cars on which dealers could be more willing to cut a deal. Then 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.
In previous installments of our monthly Best Deals series, we also factored in how well each car sold during the prior month. But too many automakers have since moved to quarterly sales reports instead of monthly updates, which reveal little about the slowest sellers in recent past.
Sales and incentives data come from automakers’ websites, while days-to-turn data come from Cars.com inventory. 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.