Incentives Diet: Buy This, Not That

New-car incentives are hard to come by these days. Gone are the big lumps of cash back teamed to low financing offers. Even low financing deals are harder to come by as new models and fuel-efficient cars are in high demand.

Are there deals to be had out there? Yes, but it takes more digging and creative thinking.

We’ve taken three pairs of cars that highlight this issue. One is a relative bargain with its pure sticker price versus the other while still packing similar features. All are Best Bets except the 2012 Ford Focus, which is too new to be considered for the nod.

All the trim levels we picked for these comparisons needed to include an automatic transmission; air conditioning; power locks, windows and side mirrors; keyless entry; cruise control; Bluetooth connectivity; a USB port; and electronic stability control. MSRP prices include destination charges.

Do the bargain choices always win out? Or do high-demand models cost more no matter the sticker price?

2011 Kia Forte EX vs. 2012 Ford Focus SE Sedan
The Forte debuted a few years ago and was a very well-rounded contender in the compact class. You get a lot for your money, and it was named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The Focus is all new — joining tougher competition like the Chevy Cruze and Hyundai Elantra — and rides and handles better than the Forte, but it’s also more expensive similarly equipped.

The Focus is in hot demand. In April, it was the second-fastest-selling car on our Movers & Losers list, taking just seven days to sell after hitting a dealer lot. The Forte sold at a respectable 39-day rate, well below the average of 48 days. Still, that worn luster gives the Forte the edge in terms of financing that will save buyers an additional $1,262.44 in addition to the lower sticker price. The Focus hatchback is pictured above, not the sedan. All pricing and equipment mentioned is for the Focus SE sedan.

By David Thomas | May 18, 2011 | Comments (8)

Volkswagen Offers March Lease Deals

2011 TouaregLike Honda, Volkswagen doesn’t typically offer big cash-back incentives to move cars off dealer lots; it instead relies on special lease rates. For March, the German automaker is offering attractive leasing and financing incentives on most of its lineup with its “Going, Going, Gone Event.”

Financing incentives include zero-percent financing for 72 months on vehicles like 2010 New Beetle and 2011 Routan minivan.

Newer vehicles like the redesigned 2011 Touareg (including hybrid and TDI diesel variants) also get attractive financing rates.

If you’re looking to get a deal on the fast-selling 2011 Jetta, the automaker is offering a $179 a month lease, though we’ve seen better rates from competitors like the Chevrolet Cruze and Toyota Corolla.

If you’re looking for a used Volkswagen, the company is also offering 1.99% APR financing on its entire certified pre-owned inventory for 48 months or 2.99% financing for 60 months.

The deals below are VW’s national deals. There are some regional and dealership incentives that might be more advantageous for people who are looking to finance or pay with cash rather than lease.

Most of the deals highlighted below expire at the end of March.

By Colin Bird | March 9, 2011 | Comments (5)

2012 Volkswagen Tiguan at 2011 Geneva Motor Show


  • Competes with: Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester, Chevy Equinox
  • Looks like: A manlier mini-SUV
  • Drivetrain: Turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder
  • Hits dealerships: Fall 2011 

We knew Volkswagen was giving its oft-forgotten compact SUV a face-lift. Now we know when it will go on sale and the fuel efficiency it’s aiming to achieve.
While a few online denizens have bemoaned the new corporate look sported on the new Jetta and Passat, it makes the Tiguan look more aggressive. Inside, the updates are more minimal, but there are new controls and a standard touch-screen stereo on the SE trim. You can upgrade to two different navigation systems depending on the trim level.
The other trim levels in the lineup are the base S and the top-tier SEL, which has the LED daytime running lights you see here as optional equipment, along with bi-xenon headlights. Inside, that means S trim levels have cloth, SE leatherette and SEL leather.
Bluetooth connectivity and an auxiliary audio input will be standard along with power heated side mirrors, but not USB connectivity.
The engine will remain the same, a turbocharged 2.0-liter gas engine. Neither horsepower nor transmission availability was given, but VW said it estimates the highway fuel economy to go from 25 mpg in the current model to 29 mpg highway. That would put it near the top of the compact SUV class.

Pricing will be announced closer to the Tiguan’s on-sale date in the fall, but we’d expect it to be similar to the current model’s $23,720 starting price.

By David Thomas | March 1, 2011 | Comments (4)

Updated VW Tiguan Coming to Geneva

2012 Volkswagen TiguanToday we got our first glimpse of the refreshed 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan, which will debut March 1 at the 2011 Geneva International Motor Show.

VW didn’t reveal mechanical or feature updates, but we can see that the SUV gets a new front end and some rear-end updates. The front features a new grille, taut headlights and a revised front diffuser and fog lamps. The rear gets new squared-off taillamps encased in the same covers as the previous-generation model. Overall, the look is more in line with the new Passat and Jetta sedans.

The Tiguan is a world product, meaning it’s virtually the same across the globe besides engine differences. The model will go on sale almost immediately in Europe for the same price as the previous model.

Expect a U.S.-specific Tiguan update soon. For now, check out more images below and let us know if you think this update is a worthy one.

By Colin Bird | February 4, 2011 | Comments (3)

Porsche Confirms Cajun Small SUV


Porsche confirmed rumors today that it plans to produce an SUV smaller than its popular Cayenne, to be named Cajun. Spicy name aside, the Cajun will likely be derived from a Volkswagen product like the VW Tiguan or Audi Q5, just as the Cayenne shares a platform with the VW Touareg and Q7.

While the three companies have shared ties before, the German marquees are undergoing a new alignment with VW taking a majority of Porsche ownership. While Porsche gets SUV development from VW, it will return the favor with sports cars and sedans. We’d guess VW and Audi could use the Boxster and Panamera platforms.
What do you think? Does the world need a small Porsche SUV? Let us know in the comments.

By David Thomas | November 29, 2010 | Comments (4)

VW President Talks Turkey on Jetta, Crossovers ... and Hyundai

Jonathan Browning, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America
As Volkswagen works hard to grab the title of the world’s No. 1 global automaker, Jonathan Browning, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, sat down with at the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show to discuss the state of America’s top-selling German brand. Browning oversees U.S. operations for VW and Audi, plus the company’s three exotic brands.

The United States represents a large part of that world domination goal, and the VW brand – by far the group’s strongest U.S. seller – needs to compete in core areas. Toward that end, the automaker has moved its redesigned Jetta downstream, slashing the price of the base model to just below $16,000, but it has come at a cost. VW has endured criticism, including ours, for cheapening the Jetta’s interior. Yet the new Jetta sells like gangbusters: Sales in October for the Jetta sedan were up 42 percent compared with October 2009.

By Kelsey Mays | November 23, 2010 | Comments (3)

Volkswagen 0% Financing on New Golf, Others

Volkswagen is offering zero-percent financing for up to 60 months on the redesigned 2010 Golf; however, this excludes the diesel-powered TDI. It’s offering the same financing deal on the CC sedan and Routan.

The 2010 Eos and New Beetle convertibles have zero-percent financing deals for 36 months, while the Jetta, Passat, Passat wagon, New Beetle, GTI, Tiguan and Touareg all get the still-not-too-shabby deal of 1.9% financing for 60 months.

Check out’s incentives page for more details.

By Stephen Markley | June 10, 2010 | Comments (0)

Reader Review of the Week: 2010 Volkswagen Tiguan

Reader Review “VW Fan” from Chicago test drove a lot of SUVs and crossovers in search of the right balance. She landed on the Volkswagen Tiguan, and she seems pleased with her decision. One area where the Tiguan lags, however, is at the fuel pump. Read her full review to find out what works for her with the Tiguan, and when you finish, post a review of your own vehicle here.

By Stephen Markley | January 14, 2010 | Comments (1)

Discount-Club Challenge: Compact SUVs

Every few weeks, I get to shop at the local discount club and load up on 20-packs of paper towels, a few dozen chicken breasts and all those other essentials that cost less when you buy them in bulk. Chances are many of you also share in this routine, shopping regularly at Costco or Sam’s Club, but then have issues getting all your purchases — along with family members — into your car. Besides testing the fit of child-safety seats, this is one of those “you have to do it yourself” requirements in new-car shopping. Unfortunately, while dealers will usually let you install a seat into a prospective new car, they won’t let you run errands.

So we’ve done that for you in four compact SUVs: the 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander, 2009 Ford Escape, 2009 Nissan Rogue and 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan. We didn’t fold the second-row seats down, as any compact SUV would be able to handle the load doing that. We also wanted to show how capable these vehicles are as family cars. When you have to tow children with you to the store, you can’t fold down seats filled with booster, convertible or infant-safety seats buckled in. Even a family of four with teenagers still needs somewhere to sit.

Check out the video below and see how the four contenders managed.

By David Thomas | March 2, 2009 | Comments (11)

Weekend Athlete: 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan


Another day, another compact SUV in the crowded Weekend Athlete segment. What’s interesting this time is that the Tiguan is a rare SUV that faces a strong challenger from inside its own family.

See, Volkswagen also makes a wagon version of its Jetta. If it were my money and I wanted a Volkswagen, the Jetta SportWagen would make my decision tough. But we’ll get back to that.

The Tiguan has a very low exterior latch for its hatch door. It wasn’t so low that very tall athletes have anything to worry about, but perhaps shorter ones will appreciate the latch placement. The Tiguan doesn’t stand very tall overall, so if you’re the roof rack type you’ll probably be able to go that route without the assist of a running board or opening the doors, as long as you’re not especially short.

By William Jackson | February 26, 2009 | Comments (4)

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