It seems as if everything is on sale Labor Day weekend, and cars are no exception. As dealers make way for the 2012 models, they want to move old inventory out. Many are slashing prices and offering sweet financing deals on 2011s.
These ten 2011s were recently selling for the biggest discounts to sticker price , according to TrueCar.com -- and for most models those discounts include generous cash rebates.
Several of the vehicles on our list are discontinued, which makes them less attractive to most buyers, and a few never found traction with buyers in the first place. Dealers should be receptive to even bigger price cuts if you tell them you know that others are getting big discounts.
You can find recent transaction prices for any car on your shopping list at TrueCar.com (opens in new tab). Also, compare costs and resale value, see performance data and more from this year's automotive class by viewing Kiplinger's 2011 Vehicle Rankings.
Mitsubishi Endeavor LS
Sticker price: $29,109
Invoice price: $27,915
Average price paid: $22,566
Resale value: 3 years: 33%; 5 years: 23%
MPG: 15 city, 21 highway
In order to focus its efforts on electrification, Mitsubishi discontinued the Endeavor crossover and ended production in August. But dealers still have a few left in inventory. The Endeavor has a roomy interior with 41 cubic feet of cargo space, but fuel economy isn’t great and the 225-horsepower engine doesn’t supply enough get-up-and-go to make up for it. Manufacturer incentives include $4,500 cash or financing as low as 0% for 36-, 48- and 60-month loans.
Chevrolet HHR LS
Sticker price: $19,440
Invoice price: $18,691
Average price paid: $15,621
Resale value: 3 years: 33%; 5 years: 25%
MPG: 22 city, 32 highway
Chevy’s funky little wagon bows out this year after facing slowing sales and stiff in-house competition from the brand’s Equinox crossover. The selloff will continue until they’re gone, but supply is short, so move fast if you want one. The HHR, like many of the other models on the deep-discount list, has low resale values, but it offers good fuel efficiency and 25 cubic feet of cargo room. Manufacturer incentives include $3,500 cash or financing as low as 0% for 12-, 36-, 48- and 60-month loans.
Nissan Altima Hybrid
Sticker price: $27,560
Invoice price: $25,876
Average price paid: $22,148
Resale value: 3 years: 39%; 5 years: 26%
MPG: 33 city, 33 highway
The hybrid version of Nissan’s bestseller drops out after the 2011 model year as the company discontinues the hybrid powertrain and battery technology it licensed from Toyota. But the Altima hybrid could be back as soon as 2013, sporting the system that powers the hybrid Infiniti M. In the meantime, if you live in one of the ten states where it’s sold (California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont), you can pick up a green machine on the cheap.
Dodge Journey Express
Sticker price: $22,995
Invoice price: $22,635
Average price paid: $19,098
Resale value: 3 years: 32%; 5 years: 23%
MPG: 19 city, 26 highway
Buyers have given a cold shoulder to this midsize crossover. But the fundamentals are there -- strong exterior styling and an eye-pleasing interior, spot-on handling and braking, and decent fuel economy. Resale values are low, but if you buy and hold for a long time, that shouldn’t matter. Manufacturer incentives include $2,750 cash or financing as low as 0% on 36-, 48- and 60-month loans.
Chevrolet Malibu LT
Sticker price: $23,735
Invoice price: $22,586
Average price paid: $19,979
Resale value: 3 years: 39%; 5 years: 27%
MPG: 22 city, 33 highway
When Chevrolet redesigned the Malibu in 2008, it received good reviews (including a Kiplinger Best New Car award), and Chevy finally had a midsize sedan that could hold its own against the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. Competition has grown fiercer in the family-car space, however, and the Malibu has lost a step as other carmakers introduced strong redesigns. But it’s still among the top ten bestsellers. This price point won’t last long -- the revamped 2013 Malibu goes on sale early next year. Manufacturer incentives include $2,500 cash or financing as low as 0% for 12-, 36-, 48- and 60-month loans. Plus, dealers are eligible for $1,000 cash for making the sale, so you can use that as a bargaining chip.
Jeep Liberty Sport
Sticker price: $24,045
Invoice price: $23,393
Average price paid: $20,264
Resale value: 3 years: 36%; 5 years: 25%
MPG: 16 city, 22 highway
The Jeep Liberty, like other Jeeps, is known for off-road prowess, but the Liberty gets lost in the sea of compact crossovers. Its 3.7-liter V6 is thirsty, sucking fuel like a much larger vehicle, and the 25 cubic feet of cargo space leaves a lot to be desired for a vehicle of this size (the comparable Honda CR-V has 36 cubic feet). Still, here’s an opportunity to snag a Jeep on the cheap. Manufacturer incentives include $3,000 cash (with an extra $1,000 if you’re new to the brand) or financing as low as 0% on 36-, 48- and 60-month loans.
Dodge Avenger Heat
Sticker price: $24,590
Invoice price: $23,502
Average price paid: $20,751
Resale value: 3 years: NA; 5 years: NA
MPG: 19 city, 29 highway
With so much competition in the midsize sedan market, the Dodge Avenger hasn’t been able to distinguish itself, and sales have been comparatively meager. But 2011 brought a fresh new interior and exterior to the Avenger, plus revamped steering and suspension. The Heat designation noted above is an option package on the Mainstreet model (TrueCar lists it separately). Manufacturer incentives include $2,500 cash (with an extra $1,000 if you’re new to the brand) or financing as low as 0% on 36-, 48-, 60- and 72-month loans.
Suzuki SX4 sedan
Sticker price: $14,244
Invoice price: $13,704
Average price paid: $12,036
Resale value: 3 years: 37%; 5 years: 22%
MPG: 23 city, 33 highway
Suzuki can’t seem to get buyers on board, although the SX4 is its best-selling model. The sedan has decent power for a four-cylinder, gets good mileage and boasts eight airbags, including rear side airbags. However, Suzuki prioritizes options strangely -- navigation is standard on the S trim ($17,124), but stability and traction control are unavailable until you move up to the highest trim level, the GTS sedan ($19,644). Manufacturer incentives include $1,250 cash (plus an extra $500 if you’re a returning Suzuki buyer or a recent college grad) or financing as low as 0% for 48-month loans and 1.9% for 60-month loans.
Chevrolet Aveo5 LS
Sticker price: $12,875
Invoice price: $12,390
Average price paid: $10,929
Resale value: 3 years: 32%; 5 years: 20%
MPG: 27 city, 35 highway
For 2012, Chevrolet is replacing the Aveo with the Sonic, and with its arrival imminent, dealers are cleaning out remaining Aveos. If you’re looking for a wallet-saver, this is it. The average price runs just under $11,000, and the car gets 30 mpg in combined city and highway driving. The bad news: It is underpowered and lacks standard amenities such as air conditioning and anti-lock brakes. Manufacturer incentives include $1,500 cash or financing as low as 3.9% for 12-, 36-, 48- and 60-month loans.
Nissan Xterra X
Sticker price: $25,070
Invoice price: $23,803
Average price paid: $21,301
Resale value: 3 years: 49%; 5 years: 34%
MPG: 16 city, 22 highway
With gas prices high and truck-based SUVs out of vogue, it’s no wonder the Xterra isn’t finding a big following these days. But if rugged looks are your style and you can spare about three grand a year for gas, this rear-wheel-drive ute delivers plenty of power and 36 cubic feet of cargo space. Manufacturer incentives include $2,000 cash (with an extra $500 if you’re a recent grad) or financing as low as 0% for 12-, 24-, and 36-month loans and 1.9% for 48- and 60-month loans.
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