The Ram 1500 is among the best end-of-summer new-car deals.

As summer winds down, the airwaves are alive with promotions for model-year-end sales to clear the dealer lots of older cars and make way for incoming 2019 models. This can be a time to get a great deal, though bear in mind these 2018s will be considered a year old in just weeks.

Our list of best end-of-summer new-car deals was created by focusing on the models with the greatest percentage of potential savings compared with their sticker price.

They are selected from vehicles with a strong Overall Score, which factors in road-test performance, owner satisfaction, reliability, and safety. (Learn more about CR car ratings.)


Using these filters, we have curated a collection of vehicles that are from 15 to 19 percent below the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, with potential savings from $2,950 to $6,600 once nationwide incentives are applied. The models listed below are ranked by percentage of potential savings, starting with the greatest.

These extreme savings come with trade-offs, though. It’s the end of the model year, and any 2018 car purchased now will see accelerated first-year depreciation, especially models being redesigned, such as the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, Nissan Altima, and Ram 1500.

That may not matter if you plan to hold on to the vehicle for several years, especially if you’re a high-mileage driver. And while the all-new models may sound tempting with their advanced features, their performance and reliability is unknown. Models are typically most reliable in their last year of production. (Learn more in “Should You Buy a New Car During End-of-Summer Sales?”)

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 MSRP (in most states) to customers.

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 is one of the best end-of-summer new car deals

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, automatic climate control, a roomy rear seat, and heating for the seats and steering wheel. The controls are very intuitive to use, but the low-mounted dash vents tend to blow more air on your hands than face, where it would be preferred. Blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic warning are standard. But forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking 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 is among the Best End-of-Summer New-Car Deals

The Ram 1500 is both comfortable-riding 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 torque-y 3.0-liter diesel V6 version 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 top trim Limited is lavishly furnished inside and benefits from air suspension that gives the Ram its standout ride. A redesigned Ram is on sale.

2018 Ram 1500 Big Horn 4x4 Regular Cab
Incentives expire:
 Oct. 1, 2018
MSRP: $37,590
Potential savings off MSRP: $6,594
Bottom line price: $30,996

Read the complete Ram 1500 road test.

Nissan Altima: 18% Off

Nissan Altima is among the Best End-of-Summer New-Car Deals

This rather generic—though roomy—sedan uses a continuously variable transmission that works well when loafing around, but it dilutes the driving experience in more demanding situations. 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 feels mushy and saps confidence with its overly light steering. The ride is superficially soft, but over sharp bumps the suspension loses its absorbency. 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 available. For 2018, forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking is standard.

2018 Nissan Altima 2.5 SV
Incentives expire:
 Oct. 1, 2018
MSRP: $26,805
Potential savings off MSRP: $4,762
Bottom line price: $22,043

Read the complete Nissan Altima road test.

Hyundai Sonata: 17% Off

Hyundai Sonata is among the Best End-of-Summer New-Car Deals

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 used to be. The base 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine is coupled to a smooth six-speed automatic that returns 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 forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking 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. 1, 2018
MSRP: $22,935
Potential savings off MSRP: $3,909
Bottom line price: $19,026

Read the complete Hyundai Sonata road test.

Hyundai Santa Fe Sport: 17% Off

Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is among the Best End-of-Summer New-Car Deals

Hyundai’s five-passenger midsized SUV has received a number of updates, including automatic emergency braking 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. 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. 1, 2018
MSRP: $27,480
Potential savings off MSRP: $4,676
Bottom line price: $22,804

Read the complete Hyundai Santa Fe Sport road test.

Kia Soul: 17% Off

There is more to the boxy Soul than just its quirky styling. It packs plenty of interior space, with chairlike seats and big windows that provide an excellent view. Though fundamentally a budget hatchback, the Soul can function as an SUV alternative. The driving experience isn’t special: The ride is stiff, and handling is sound but unexceptional. The power delivery from the 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine feels just adequate, and its 26 mpg overall is not outstanding. A more powerful 201-hp, 1.6-liter turbo four-cylinder is available, as is a fully electric Soul. The extensive options list includes heated seats and touch-screen navigation. Available safety gear includes automatic emergency braking, forward-collision warning, and lane-departure warning, but only on select trims.

2018 Kia Soul +
Incentives expire:
Oct. 31, 2018
MSRP: $21,295
Potential savings off MSRP: $3,571
Bottom line price: $17,724

Read the complete Kia Soul road test.

Ford Fusion: 16% Off

Ford Fusion end of summer deals

The Fusion is a delight to drive, with a supple ride and nimble handling that’s reminiscent of a European sports sedan. All trim levels and powertrains feel solid and upscale, with a well-finished and quiet cabin. We found the optional leather seats to be more supportive than the cloth ones, but the rear seat is snug. The 1.5- and 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engines are powerful enough, but neither has competitive fuel economy. A new high-end version, the Sport, is equipped with all-wheel drive and a 325-hp, 2.7-liter V6. It is quick, comfortable, and quiet, but it costs more than $40,000. The Hybrid and Energi plug-in hybrid were updated with more efficient electric motors. Ford updated the interior by adding a rotary gear selector and an improved Sync 3 infotainment system.

2018 Ford Fusion Hybrid SE
Incentives expire:
 Oct. 1, 2018
MSRP: $27,235
Potential savings off MSRP: $4,449
Bottom line price: $22,786

Read the complete Ford Fusion road test.

Hyundai Elantra: 16% Off

Hyundai Elantra end of summer car deals

The Elantra is relatively roomy and sparing with fuel, and it features intuitive controls. 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. 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. 1, 2018
MSRP: $19,735
Potential savings off MSRP: $3,123
Bottom line price: $16,612

Read the complete Hyundai Elantra road test.

Kia Forte: 16% Off

Kia Forte is among the Best End-of-Summer New-Car Deals

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 and six-speed automatic. 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 redesigned Forte goes on sale this year.

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 is among the Best End-of-Summer New-Car Deals

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. 1, 2018
MSRP: $29,395
Potential savings off MSRP: $4,636
Bottom line price: $24,759

Read the complete Buick Encore road test.

Toyota Sienna: 15% Off

Toyota Sienna is among the Best End-of-Summer New-Car Deals

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. 2018 brings standard forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control.

2018 Toyota Sienna XLE
Incentives expire:
 Oct. 1, 2018
MSRP: $38,135
Potential savings off MSRP: $5,718
Bottom line price: $32,417

Read the complete Toyota Sienna road test.