Summer is not only a time for barbecues, shorts, and trips to the beach — it's also a great time to buy a new car.
There are several factors that conspire to make the hottest season of the year one of the hottest times to buy a new car. The first is that late summer and early autumn is usually the time of year that car makers will introduce their latest redesigns and new models. In order to make space for the next generation of cars on dealer lots, they are more flexible on the pricing of the outgoing model year (in this case, clearing 2012 models to make room for 2013 models).
The second is that in an effort to clear out the previous year's inventory, there are also more rebates and incentives offered by manufacturers this time of year (check our Rebate Center for the latest information on those offers), especially on models that are being redesigned or have major changes coming the next model year.
So while it might be tempting to wait for the latest design, if you're gunning for savings then the outgoing model is a perfect choice. And remember, cars generally go through what are called "life-cycles," which means they get redesigned every four years or so, regardless of the quality or sales of the current model. This is why on our site, even after the 2013 models come out we will still list a page for the 2012 version in our new car section — dealers are still looking to sell and move those models.
Here are a couple models that are being redesigned for 2013, which means that the 2012 versions can be had at great savings:
The Altima has been climbing the sales charts rapidly over the past several years, even outselling the mighty Camry in some months last year. Available as a coupe or a sedan, the Altima's uniqueness stems from its CVT transmission (it is the only midsize car to offer one) which Nissan says increases fuel economy.
Living with the 2012 Altima is easy: keyless entry with trunk release and push button start both come standard. It is also one of the better driving cars in this segment with superior steering feedback and feel than most of the competition. Already starting at one of the lowest base prices amongst the midsize cars, if you can get any kind of break on the MSRP and/or a rebate/incentive, the 2012 Altima is one of the best automotive bargains around.
Details are scant on the redesigned RAV4, but the mystery of the current model dissolved long ago. The RAV4 is a solid compact crossover with above average flexibility thanks to its available third-row. The third-row allows you to seat up to seven passengers if needed, or stows away completely when you need cargo space. There are two engine options, an efficient 179-hp four-cylinder and a more powerful 269-hp, 3.5-liter V-6, which actually gives the RAV4 pretty good acceleration numbers (0-60 in just over six seconds). AWD is available for those who like to get outdoors or live in areas with inclement weather.
There's not too much to say really about the 2012 RAV4 but in this case less really is more. It's a reliable crossover with good gas mileage and very reasonable MSRP for the features and versatility you get. The RAV4 is a practical choice, which many times is just what the doctor ordered.