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 Cars.com 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.