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Save money with these Thanksgiving and Black Friday car deals

Good deals worth gobbling up on good cars

Consumer Reports News: November 19, 2014 05:30 PM

The airwaves are abuzz with door-busting Black Friday deals on the latest gizmos, gadgets, and other things you can simply live without. But there is a product most people need and depend on that can be found at great prices this shopping season: a new car.

Scouring through thousands of current incentives, we found several standout deals that promise thousands off the window sticker. The deals this time around are not as aggressive as we have seen on past holiday weekends, but if you’re looking to save on a new car, this can be a good time to act. And unlike that wall-sized television you're contemplating standing in line overnight for, these offers extend until at least December.  

The new-car model year typically transitions in the fall, leading to some overlap with the outgoing year. This time, inventories on 2014 models is light, causing us to focus strictly on 2015 models. If you find a 2014, think through whether it is the right solution for you. Of course, it will have depreciated a full year’s worth and may not have the latest technology. (Read: “Should I buy an end-of-summer new car?”)

There are abundant savings available for full-sized pickup truck buyers across brands, with some heavy-duty variants showing up to $4,700 off. Surprisingly, even the new 2015 Ford F-150 has $2,000 or more in total available savings. Plus, there are numerous other cars with notable potential savings—including the Dodge Journey, Ford Escape, Fiat 500, Kia Sorento, and Nissan Altima—that just don’t meet our requirements to be recommended.

The cars listed below are all 2015 models. With a nod to the early winter hitting the nation, most selections highlighted are all-wheel-drive, but there are discounts available on other variations. The vehicles listed below are national deals, but extra regional discounts are also available on other models with an additional savings. In addition, there are bonus incentives for returning customers and military personnel available on many models, providing even further discounts.

The models highlighted are just a few of our best new car deals, meaning there are notable discounts on models that meet Consumer Reports criteria to be recommended. These vehicles scored well in our testing, had average or better reliability in our subscriber survey, and performed at least adequately, if included, in government or insurance-industry safety tests.

Consumer Reports Build & Buy

When buying a car, in addition to research and reviews, Consumer Reports offers subscribers access to the Build & Buy Car Buying Service at no additional cost. Through this service, a nationwide network of more than 8,600 participating dealers provide upfront pricing information and a certificate to receive guaranteed savings off MSRP (in most states). The pricing information and guaranteed savings includes eligible incentives. Consumer Reports subscribers have saved an average of $2,919 off MSRP with the Build & Buy Car Buying Service.

Buick Enclave

The most luxurious of General Motors’ three-row crossovers, the Enclave is set apart from the Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia by nicer interior finish, a quieter cabin, and a softer ride. The large Enclave feels more responsive in corners than some Buick sedans, with quick steering response and decent feedback through the steering wheel. The 288-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6 engine often feels taxed by the Enclave's hefty 5,100-pound weight, but when pushed, it delivers good performance. A notable downside is that it returns just 15 mpg in mixed driving on regular fuel, although this may be offset by available savings. Forward-collision and lane-departure warning systems are available.

Make/model MSRP Invoice Available savings Expires
Buick Enclave Premium AWD $50,230 $48,751 $2,979 12/1/14

Buick Regal

A well-honed and satisfying sports sedan with a European feel, the Regal is based on a design from Opel, GM's German subsidiary. Handling is agile, steering is quick, and the ride is taut and steady. The quiet and nicely furnished interior has firm, well-supporting seats and excellent fit and finish, but the rear seat is snug. A 2014 freshening brought a new 259-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, which improved performance and fuel economy. Controls were simplified, the infotainment system upgraded, and all-wheel-drive was made available on all trim lines. Our tested Regal was quick, fairly quiet, and delivered 24 mpg overall. The optional eAssist mild hybrid enhancement could boost that to about 29 mpg. A standard built-in WiFi hotspot is new for 2015.

Make/model MSRP Invoice Available savings Expires
Buick Regal Premium I AWD $35,250 $34,564 $1,530 12/1/14

Chevrolet Malibu

The Malibu stands out for offering an attractive discount on an already affordable, and appealing, midsized sedan. The Malibu is comfortable and very quiet. A 2.5-liter four-cylinder with a start/stop system is the base engine. A smooth-shifting six-speed automatic is standard. Measured against competing models, the Malibu ride is cushier while handling remains sound, although our testers feel it gets soggy at its limits. Controls are simple and straightforward. Reliability has been average.

Make/model MSRP Invoice Available savings Expires
Chevrolet Malibu 2LTZ $31,305 $30,238 $3,414 12/1/14

Ford Fusion

The stylish Fusion is a delight to drive. All versions feel solid and upscale, with a supple ride, agile handling, and a quiet cabin. The main engines are a 1.5- and 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinders, both mated to a six-speed automatic. We averaged 24 and 22 mpg overall, respectively, which isn't stellar. The 1.5-liter does the job, but the 2.0-liter is punchier. We measured 39 mpg overall in the Hybrid, which is excellent, but far from the EPA's 47 mpg rating. All versions have a nicely finished cabin with comfortable seats, but the rear is somewhat snug. Reliability has been average for all versions.

Make/model MSRP Invoice Available savings Expires
Ford Fusion Titanium AWD
$32,935 $31,156 $2,963 1/5/15

Ford Taurus

The Taurus puts styling ahead of interior comfort, driver visibility, and ease of use, and the convoluted MyFord Touch control system makes matters worse. Fuel economy from the 3.5-liter V6 is 21 mpg. The six-speed automatic can be slow to shift and is not that smooth. All-wheel drive is offered with the V6. A more fuel-efficient and refined turbo four-cylinder is available. Otherwise, the Taurus is quiet, rides comfortably, and has lots of features. Handling is responsive but not sporty, and the turning circle is wide. The SHO, with standard all-wheel drive, is quick but not that engaging to drive. A rearview camera is standard for 2015. Reliability of the Taurus has improved to average.

Make/model MSRP Invoice Available savings Expires
Ford Taurus Limited AWD $36,965 $34,947 $4,084 1/5/15

GMC Acadia

The Acadia is one of GM's roomy three-row crossovers. It has a spacious and quiet interior, with a third-row seat that's roomy enough for adults. Seating for eight is available. In our tests of its cousin, the Chevrolet Traverse, the smooth and refined 3.6-liter V6 returned 16 mpg overall, but it had to work a bit to haul this heavy SUV. A recent freshening brought the better IntelliLink infotainment system and less intrusive head restraints. Handling is relatively agile and secure, and it steers nicely. The ride is taut yet comfortable and steady. Rear visibility isn't great, but clever extra mirrors reduce side blind spots. Reliability has been average.

Make/model MSRP Invoice Available savings Expires
GMC Acadia Denali AWD $50,615 $49,124 $2,991 12/1/14

Kia Optima

The Optima is Kia's counterpart to the highly rated, previous-generation Hyundai Sonata. Although it falls a little short of the Sonata in ride comfort, braking, and fuel economy, the Georgia-built Optima is still a good choice. The base LX handles very securely, the engine and transmission perform well, and fuel economy is quite respectable. The 200-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine delivers better than average acceleration and a respectable 25 mpg overall. The coupelike styling detracts from rear visibility, though, and the rear seat is a bit low, but it's still livable. 

Make/model MSRP Invoice Available savings Expires
Kia Optima Limited $36,300 $34,271 $2,565 12/1/14

Jeff Bartlett with Todd Young

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