If shopping for a new car is on your Memorial Day agenda, along with the annual family barbecue, you'll find some bargain deals, thanks to holiday promotions by the manufacturers.
Memorial Day is one of the busiest car-buying days of the year, and the U.S. News Best Cars website has put out its list of the best new-car holiday deals. We'll take a detailed look at five of the most interesting offers.
Another incentive for shopping this Memorial Day is that average new-car loan rates are at their lowest point in three years at 3.42 percent, according to Wallethub.com. However, some of the promotional deals involve not only sizable rebates but zero percent financing for buyers with strong credit ratings.
If you're shopping for a used car, however, Memorial Day isn't such a bonanza. iSeeCars.com reviewed 40 million used-car sales from 2013 to 2015 to see when the most discounted deals were offered. Memorial Day was near the bottom. Versus the average, it had 18 percent fewer deals discounted by 5 percent or more. The best times came later -- especially Black Friday after Thanksgiving, when 33 percent more deals than average were offered.
In any case, the big discounts out there now are on new cars that dealers have too many of. If you're shopping for such a model, don't just take the salesperson's offer of the price after the rebate. Know your target price by checking Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com to see their Fair Market Range of average selling prices for a particular trim level. Negotiate toward your target buying price, then apply the rebate being offered.
Click here for details on five of the best new-car buying and lease deals this Memorial Day weekend.
Small car: Hyundai Elantra
The 2016 Elantra is being offered with zero percent financing for six years plus up to $1,750 cash back. Or you can lease the Elantra for $169 per month for three years with $1,399 due at signing. Hyundai already has introduced a redesigned 2017 Elantra, so it's trying to clear out the remaining 2016 models.
Reviewers surveyed by U.S. News praised the 2016 Elantra for its roomy interior and above-average fuel economy. The base engine with automatic transmission is rated by the EPA for 28 MPG in city driving, 38 on the highway. The more powerful, optional 2-liter four-cylinder engine, which reviewers prefer for better acceleration, is rated 24 city, 35 highway.
List prices run from $17,250 to $21,700.
Sporty car: Dodge Challenger
If you're looking for a modern muscle car, the Dodge Challenger is being offered with 0.9 percent financing for three years with $2,000 cash back. If you prefer to use your own lender, you can still get the $2,000 rebate.
The Challenger comes standard with a 3.6-liter V-6 engine rated for 19 MPG in city driving and 30 on the highway. In addition, you can opt for a V-8 rated at 16 city, 25 highway.
In addition to powerful acceleration, test drivers surveyed by U.S. News praised the Challenger as being spacious for a car in this class, with supportive and comfortable seats.
List prices run from $26,995 way up to $62,495 for the superfast SRT Hellcat version.
Small SUV: Ford Escape
The 2016 Escape is being offered with zero percent interest for six years and $1,000 cash back.
Reviewers praise the Escape as being one of the most fun to drive among small SUVs with crisp handling. They also like the well-designed interior and seats, including the rear ones, which are comfortable.
The base four-cylinder turbocharged engine is rated for 23 MPG in city driving, 32 on the highway. A more powerful 2.5-liter enging is rated 22 city, 31 highway.
List prices run from$23,950 to $31,745.
Large SUV: Chevrolet Traverse
The Traverse is being offered at zero percent financing for five years plus a $500 Memorial Day bonus rebate.
Reviewers praise this sizable SUV for handling almost like a car and providing a roomy interior and abundant cargo space. U.S. News named it the 2016 best large SUV for the money. The Traverse comes with a standard V-6 engine which, with two-wheel drive, is rated for 15 MPG in city driving and 22 on the highway.
List prices range from $31,205 to $44,145.
Pickup: RAM 1500
The cash-back champ this weekend is the 2016 RAM 1500 pickup, which is offering a $9,500 rebate on the Big Horn Crew Cab.
This high-end version of the pickup has a list price of $45,475. So that's a rebate of over 20 percent, and you may be able to negotiate an even lower price. This trim level comes standard with an 8.4-inch touch-screen display and navigation.
Reviewers praise the RAM 1500 for its well-designed interior and comfortable rear seats. The base V-6 turbocharged engine with two-wheel drive is rated for 17 MPG city, 25 highway. But choosing a turbodiesel power plant boosts those ratings to 20 city, 28 highway.