13 Scary-Good New-Car Deals for Halloween

Deep discounts that will have you howling

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With 2019 model-year car sales now well underway, there are some scary-good new-car deals available on some very decent leftover 2018s.

The potential savings on the models highlighted here, factoring in nationwide incentives and reasonable negotiation, range from 15 percent to 19 percent below the original sticker price. That means savings from $2,965 to $6,649 are available now through at least Halloween.

To make sure these cars are more treat than trick, we concentrated on models with a strong Overall Score, which factors in road-test performance, owner satisfaction, reliability, and safety. (Learn more about CR car ratings.)

These 13 lucky mainstream models are ranked by percentage of potential savings and represent small cars, midsized sedans, minivans, SUVs, and pickup trucks. The reviews that accompany the list are for the 2018 model year, and the prices are for the highlighted example. Other trims are likely to have similar savings. There are also dozens of quality leftover models available at dealerships for thousands off their sticker price, as highlighted in our Best New Car Deals list.

As you shop, remember those extreme savings can come with trade-offs. It's the end of the model year, and any 2018 car purchased now will see accelerated first-year depreciation, especially models that are being redesigned for 2019, such as the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, Kia Forte, Lexus ES, and Nissan Altima. (Read “Should I Buy an End-of-Summer New Car?”)

That may not matter if you plan to hold on to the vehicle for several years, and that's especially true if you're a high-mileage driver (more than 15,000 miles a year). And while the upcoming, all-new models may sound tempting with their myriad advanced features, their performance and reliability are unknown. Models are typically most reliable in their last year of production, and the cars listed here have all been in production for years.

CR Build & Buy Car Buying Service

When buying a car, in addition to research and reviews, Consumer Reports offers its members access to the Build & Buy Car Buying Service at no additional cost. Through this service, a nationwide network of about 12,000 participating dealers provides up-front pricing information and a certificate to receive guaranteed savings off the manufacturer's suggested retail price for customers in most states.

The pricing information and guaranteed savings include eligible incentives. Consumer Reports members have saved an average of $3,101 off the MSRP with the Build & Buy Car Buying Service.

Kia Optima: 19% Off

Kia Optima

Kia Kia

Kia’s midsized sedan packs a lot of substance and value. It drives nicely, with a firm yet absorbent ride and responsive, secure handling. The 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine is pleasant and returned 28 mpg overall in our tests; the uplevel 2.0-liter turbo-four packs more punch. A 1.6-liter four-cylinder mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is also available. Both hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions are available.

The EX trim features comfortable leather seats, a roomy rear seat, heated seats and steering wheel, and automatic climate control, which makes the necessary adjustments to achieve and maintain the driver-selected temperature. The controls are very intuitive to use, but the low-mounted dash vents tend to blow more air on your hands than your face, where it would be preferred. Blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic warning are standard. But forward-collision warning (FCW) and automatic emergency braking (AEB) are optional and only on top trims.

2018 Kia Optima EX
Incentives expire:
Oct. 31, 2018
MSRP: $26,595
Potential savings off MSRP: $5,170
Bottom line price: $21,425

Read the complete Kia Optima road test.

Ram 1500: 18% Off

Ram 1500

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The Ram 1500 is both comfortable to ride in and capable of serious grunt work. Its coil-spring rear suspension helps cushion the ride, and the spacious cab is luxury-car quiet. Our Big Horn Crew Cab, with its smooth 5.7-liter V8, averaged 15 mpg. The base 3.6-liter V6 is no weakling, but it tows less. The version with a 3.0-liter, diesel V6 engine is expensive but delivers effortless thrust and returns a class-leading 20 mpg overall.

Rear-seat room is generous, and the Uconnect 8.4-inch touch-screen infotainment system is easy to use. The Limited version is lavishly furnished inside and benefits from air suspension that gives the Ram its standout ride. A redesigned Ram is already on sale.

2018 Ram 1500 Big Horn 4x4 Regular Cab
Incentives expire:
Oct. 31, 2018
MSRP: $37,590
Potential savings off MSRP: $6,594
Bottom line price: $30,996

Read the complete Ram 1500 road test.

Hyundai Sonata: 18% Off

Hyundai Sonata

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This competitive sedan was freshened for 2018 and retains its excellent rear-seat room, easy cabin access, and user-friendly controls. Handling is taut and secure, but the ride is on the firm side and isn’t as comfortable as it was in previous models. The base 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine is coupled to a smooth six-speed automatic transmission. It returned 28 mpg overall in our tests. A more powerful 2.0-liter turbo mated to an eight-speed automatic is optional. The Eco uses a 1.6-liter, turbo four-cylinder paired with a seven-speed automated manual.

Outward visibility is a strong point. Blind-spot warning is standard, but FCW and AEB are optional. Plug-in and hybrid versions are available; the latter returned an impressive 39 mpg overall in our tests.

2018 Hyundai Sonata SE
Incentives expire:
Oct. 31, 2018
MSRP: $22,935
Potential savings off MSRP: $4,159
Bottom line price: $18,776

Read the complete Hyundai Sonata road test.

Nissan Altima: 18% Off

Nissan Altima

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This rather generic though roomy sedan uses a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that works well when loafing around, but it dilutes the driving experience by revving too high under heavy acceleration. In our tests we got a decent 29 mpg overall with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder, and the 3.5-liter V6 returned 24 mpg overall. Handling lacks precision and control, and steering is overly light.

The ride is superficially soft, and the suspension loses its absorbency over sharp bumps. The controls are easy to use, but the infotainment system is fussy and limits phone interaction to voice commands. Blind-spot and lane-departure warning systems are standard on the 2.5 SV and 2.5 SL. For 2018, forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking are standard.

2018 Nissan Altima 2.5 SV
Incentives expire:
Oct. 31, 2018
MSRP: $26,805
Potential savings off MSRP: $4,762
Bottom line price: $22,043

Read the complete Nissan Altima road test.

Hyundai Santa Fe Sport: 17% Off

Hyndai Santafe Sport

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Hyundai’s five-passenger midsized SUV has received a number of updates, including AEB with pedestrian detection, and lane-departure warning. It also improved from Marginal to Good in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s small-overlap crash test, which simulates the front corner of the vehicle striking a rigid object, like a tree or utility pole, at 40 mph.

This roomy SUV has a comfortable ride and a quiet interior. Power comes from a responsive 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine mated to a smooth six-speed automatic transmission. We got a decent 23 mpg overall with this drivetrain. A more powerful 2.0-liter, turbo four-cylinder is also available. Handling is sound and secure but not exceptional. The well-finished cabin is packed with a lot of standard features, but rear visibility is only so-so.

2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.4L AWD
Incentives expire:
Oct. 31, 2018
MSRP: $27,480
Potential savings off MSRP: $4,676
Bottom line price: $22,804

Read the complete Hyundai Santa Fe Sport road test.

Hyundai Elantra: 16% Off

Hyundai Elantra

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The Elantra is relatively roomy and sparing with fuel. The 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine returned an excellent 33 mpg overall in our tests but delivers leisurely acceleration and buzzes unpleasantly when revs increase. The Eco version feels more responsive but costs $3,000 more.

It features intuitive controls, but although its handling is secure, there isn’t much driving excitement. The ride is mostly unobjectionable, but sharp bumps can be noticeably felt. Road noise is elevated as well. Inside, the front seats in our tested SE are short on lumbar support, though the power seat in the Limited is better. Active safety features and a Sport version with a 1.6-liter, turbo four-cylinder are available.

2018 Hyundai Elantra SEL 2.0L
Incentives expire:
Oct. 31, 2018
MSRP: $19,735
Potential savings off MSRP: $3,123
Bottom line price: $16,612

Read the complete Hyundai Elantra road test.

Lexus ES: 16% Off


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The Lexus ES has sound handling but falls short of being engaging or fun. Uncharacteristic for Lexus, the ride is on the stiff side, and the optional 18-inch wheels make it worse. It feels more like a family sedan than a luxury car. The powerful 3.5-liter V6 and six-speed automatic got a good 25 mpg overall. But we find the hybrid to be more appealing, thanks to its combination of size and fuel economy, returning a class-leading 36 mpg overall and 44 on the highway in our tests.

Inside, the quiet cabin makes a good first impression, but it has some cheap touches. The mouselike infotainment interface is distracting and convoluted. Most drivers will have a decent fit behind the wheel, but the interior falls short of being truly spacious. AEB and lane-departure warning are standard. The ES is redesigned for 2019.

2018 Lexus ES 350
Incentives expire:
Oct. 31, 2018
MSRP: $39,945
Potential savings off MSRP: $6,465
Bottom line price: $33,480

See our complete Lexus ES road test.

Kia Forte: 16% Off

Kia forte

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Kia’s Forte provides generous interior room and a wide assortment of amenities. Our base LX sedan got 33 mpg overall from its 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission. Though the ride soaks up most impacts, it tends to feel a bit too jarring when encountering sharp bumps. Handling is very secure but not particularly agile. The SX hatchback uses a 1.6-liter turbo engine mated to a seven-speed, dual-clutch automated manual transmission.

The spacious interior is quiet for a compact car, and the controls are logically arranged. Available comfort and convenience options include front and rear heated and ventilated seats, and advanced safety features. High-end versions offer leather seats, power-folding mirrors, and other upscale items. A Kia Forte redesigned for 2019 is already on sale.

2018 Kia Forte LX
Incentives expire:
Oct. 31, 2018
MSRP: $18,795
Potential savings off MSRP: $2,965
Bottom line price: $15,830

Read the complete Kia Forte road test.

Buick Encore: 16% Off

Buick encore

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Derived from the small Chevrolet Sonic subcompact sedan, this subcompact SUV has a veneer of luxury. It has a well-finished, quiet cabin and a ride that’s better than a number of larger SUVs. On the downside, the Encore’s little 1.4-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission combine to deliver plodding acceleration and just fair fuel economy. We got just 23 mpg overall in our tests.

In addition, the Encore is expensive, making it a questionable value. The Encore’s tidy size makes it easy to maneuver, and its handling is sound but unexceptional. The interior is narrow and cramped, and the swoopy styling intrudes on the view out of the back. A more powerful Sport Touring version is also available.

2018 Buick Encore Preferred ll AWD
Incentives expire:
Oct. 31, 2018
MSRP: $29,395
Potential savings off MSRP: $4,636
Bottom line price: $24,759

Read the complete Buick Encore road test.

Hyundai Elantra GT: 16% Off

2018 Hyundai Elantra

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The Hyundai Elantra GT is quite different from its sedan counterpart. It offers an attractive, European-influenced design; an uncluttered interior; and nimble handling. Its ride comfort is a bit stiff, and the car isn’t particularly quiet. The civilized base powertrain is responsive and managed a decent 28 mpg overall. The uplevel Sport version brings a firmer suspension, an additional 40 hp, and optional advanced safety systems.

The car’s low-slung stance may make it difficult to climb in and out, but once in, the front seats are comfortable and there is adjustable lumbar support. The hatchback makes it easy to accommodate a bicycle when the rear seats are folded down. The car comes with a lot of equipment for the money, and the controls are easy to use.

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT
Incentives expire:
Oct. 31, 2018
MSRP: $21,235
Potential savings off MSRP: $3,307
Bottom line price: $17,928

See our complete Hyundai Elantra GT road test.

Toyota Sienna: 15% Off

Toyota Sienna

Toyota Toyota

As minivans go, the Sienna is a sensible choice, but it isn’t very engaging to drive. It rides comfortably and is quiet inside, but its handling is lackluster. It has a lively 3.5-liter V6 engine, but the new eight-speed automatic transmission doesn’t shift as smoothly as the previous six-speed. However, the new transmission helped improve fuel economy from 20 to 21 mpg. The availability of all-wheel drive is the Sienna’s biggest advantage over any other minivan, but the AWD version sacrifices 1 mpg.

An eighth seat cleverly stores in the back when it isn’t installed in place. The 2018 model year brought standard FCW and AEB, lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control.

2018 Toyota Sienna XLE
Incentives expire:
Oct. 31, 2018
MSRP: $38,135
Potential savings off MSRP: $5,718
Bottom line price: $32,417

Read the complete Toyota Sienna road test.

Hyundai Santa Fe: 15% Off

Hyundai Santa Fe

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The Santa Fe is available with advanced safety features, such as a multiview camera, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and lane-departure warning. This is still a roomy and comfortable three-row SUV built for family duty. Its 3.3-liter V6 engine is mated to a smooth, responsive six-speed automatic transmission, a combination that attained 20 mpg overall in our tests. Handling is sound and secure.

Another plus is the settled, compliant ride that blunts pavement imperfections and lets the SUV sail smoothly on the highway. The well-finished cabin brings a lot of features for the money. Access to the cramped third row is somewhat difficult. Hyundai's updated Blue Link system features remote starting via mobile phones.

2018 Hyundai Santa Fe SE 3.3L AWD
Incentives expire:
Oct. 31, 2018
MSRP: $33,580
Potential savings off MSRP: $5,075
Bottom line price: $28,505

See our complete Hyundai Santa Fe road test.

Kia Sportage: 15% Off

Kia Sportage

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The Sportage is a stylish and mildly sporty choice among small SUVs. Most versions are equipped with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder, and the top-trim SX version boasts a more powerful 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. Both engines are mated to a smooth six-speed automatic transmission.

Though a touch firm, the ride is composed and handling is responsive. Unlike the similar Hyundai Tucson, the Sportage benefits from the pairing of a larger engine and a conventional automatic transmission, which combine to give it smoother power delivery. Though the controls are easy to use, visibility to the rear and side is hampered by the thick rear roof pillars. The rear seat is roomy and has an almost-flat floor.

2018 Kia Sportage LX AWD
Incentives expire:
Oct. 31, 2018
MSRP: $26,090
Potential savings off MSRP: $3,996
Bottom line price: $22,094

Read the complete Kia Sportage road test.

Jeff S. Bartlett

A New England native, I have piloted a wide variety of vehicles, from a Segway to an aircraft carrier. All told, I have driven thousands of vehicles—many on race tracks across the globe. Today, that experience and passion are harnessed at the CR Auto Test Center to empower consumers. And if some tires must be sacrificed in the pursuit of truth, so be it. Follow me on Twitter (@JeffSBartlett).