By on June 18, 2014

mazda2

I always tell folks that they should try to hit em’ where they ain’t.

Want a Camry? Look at a Mazda 6 first.

A Prius C? One of my personal favorites.  But I still have a soft spot for far cheaper closeout models like the Mazda 2 and Ford Fiesta. You may also wind up enjoying them a lot more in the long run.

That final year of a model’s run can sometimes provide that unique, one-time steal of a deal that would put today’s popular car to shame. There is a unique value quotient that frequently can’t be replicated with the brand new stuff, once rebates and slacking consumer demand start chipping away at the true cost of purchase.

So speaking of new cars…

One of our frequent commenters, tryochatter, was recently in the market for a brand new vehicle. His first in about a decade or so.

His tastes are a bit Y2K oriented. He doesn’t care about navigation systems, infotainment modules, or any of the other premium offerings that help boost the MSRP of a given new car to a healthy 15% to 25% premium.

Like a lot of us, he’s a rare breed in today’s marketplace. Stickshift, basic Ipod integration, comfortable seating for two, with maybe four in a very tight pinch, and one other small thing.

Airbags. In his words, he wanted a car that had, “enough airbags to turn the whole mess into a volleyball if need be.”. These days, even a base entry level car like the Chevy Spark comes with 10 airbags. So this wasn’t a tough hill to climb.

The car he wanted was listed for $15,515. One day of negotiating, and waiting… and waiting… and he finally bought his next new car. A 2014 Mazda 2 for $13,000 before the usual tax and potential bogus fees were added on. In Ohio, this came to just below $14,000 after tax, tag and title.

He loves it.  The monthly payments are reasonable, and with a new job within biking distance from his home, he is probably not going to need another new car until the oldest of the Millenials start hitting their 40’s.

This isn’t a common happy ending for what many in our industry call, “the lame duck cars”. Popular cars get the spotlights, auto show turntables,  and dealer traffic. While those about to be axed or replaced will usually get the moonlight that is the back of the new car lot.

Are those lame duck cars the better buy? Well,  I’ll put it to you this way. My late father was incredible at getting these types of cars at a rock bottom price. The 1992 Lincoln Mark VII that had an MSRP of $33,000, he pretty much stole it at $22,000. The leftover 2001 Lexus ES300 that followed also got a nice, but more moderate discount.

He had a knack for buying great cars during their final year of production, and with the daily driving he did around the third world roads of northern New Jersey, he wanted a car that could handle that daily brutality.

If he had bought a 1993 Dodge Dynasty, or a four door 1993 Saab 900, chances are I wouldn’t be bragging about it, and he would have quickly changed his strategy.       

So this is the question I want you to consider. If you had to buy a new car that is in its final year of production, which one would you choose? Keep in mind you’re spending your own dollars here. Let’s assume that this is a car you plan on keeping for a long while.

Which one would you pick?

Have a question? An Insight? A lame duck, first generation Honda Insight? Please feel free to contact Steve at steve.lang@thetruthaboutcars.com 

 

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135 Comments on “Question Of The Day: What Lame Duck New Car Is Worth Your Bills?...”


  • avatar
    GranMarkeez

    2014 Hyundai Genesis Sedan 5.0 R-Spec. ‘Nuff said.

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      God Yes. If you don’t walk out with $10k off the R-Spec, you failed.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        Even at $10,000 off sticker the Genesis is still a couple of thousand dollars more expensive than a 300C.

        It just doesn’t look, feel, or drive that way.

    • 0 avatar
      aycaramba

      Funny to see the comments on the Genesis. Just this past weekend, I was sitting around with my wife talking about the two 2013 V6s sitting at the local Hyundai dealer. One of them was loaded, MSRP $43K, listed on the dealer site at $33K, and that’s before any negotiation. I’m guessing I could get it for somewhere around $30K if I’m patient.

      Extremely tempting to me, except that even at that price, the depreciation on them is atrocious. I’m seeing slightly used 2013s comparably equiped with about 10K miles in the $25K range.

      Besides, I can’t get my wife over the mental hurdles of RWD and the Hyundai stigma. She wants an appliance, I want something that you don’t see a millon copies of on the road. Probably just end up with another Accord…

      • 0 avatar
        Matt Foley

        re: “mental hurdles of RWD”

        As a kid in the late 70’s, I recall that everybody’s mom drove a RWD vehicle in the snow, and somehow they all managed to go, stop, turn, and not crash. What happened?

        Speaking of RWD, my “lame duck” car choice would be the 2014 Mustang V6. Local Ford dealer is advertising the 6-sp base car for $18,995.

        • 0 avatar
          aycaramba

          Yup. I grew up (as did my wife) with RWD. Somehow we survived. That said, I did manage to get stuck in both RWD and even FWD cars. I think that once one becomes accustomed to AWD (or FWD), I think it’s hard to imagine doing without. Especially in snow country. It’s kind of like asking someone to go without A/C in their car. Many people just look at you like, “huh”?

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            One option would be to share with your wife the test results showing that RWD + snow tires beats AWD every time for driving in winter.

          • 0 avatar
            aycaramba

            You mean, suggest that logic and data be used to make a purchasing decision? Heresy!

          • 0 avatar
            koshchei

            I don’t care which wheels are driven as long as I have a decent set of winter tires once the temperature drops below 7.

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          Don’t know about that. I’ve only pushed one car in the past few winters. Growing up in the 70s and 80s, pushing cars out of the snow was a common thing.

          We used to live near the top of a long hill that had fairly busy traffic. That place was a hoot every time it snowed, cars spun-out everywhere. The same hill now is a non-event. Cars just zip up without any fuss.

          A lot of that is down to tires, but I also live somewhere where RWD cars get put away in the fall and taken out in the spring.

          • 0 avatar
            frozenman

            VoGo, as a long time Subaru owner, living in a harsh northern climate and using nokia’s, I call complete and utter BS on your statement. What some goofs did in a “study” does not reflect the real world, and I grew up with RWD vehicles. This comment reflects my driving experience and your results may vary:)

        • 0 avatar
          Land Ark

          Dealers around me have V6 stick Mustangs advertised in the low $15s. Very very tempting.

        • 0 avatar
          SIGCDR

          +1

      • 0 avatar
        CapVandal

        Buy a used one then. 10k rounds to zero these days.

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        First year depreciation is only important if you are selling after one year. The amount of depreciation that does matter is the total amount that you incur during the entire period when you own the car.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Tempting package on paper but falls apart based on suspension tuning and interior materials. The first offense is the worse — if I’m going to drive a wannabe sport/luxury sedan rather than an appliance I want it to ride and handle in a refined way.

      • 0 avatar
        aycaramba

        True. I drove a 2009, and it was quite jittery over the bumpy bombed-out roads here in Chicagoland. I understand that Hyundai made some suspension adjustments for 2012 and beyond that improved the ride quite a bit, but I’ve not sampled the product, so I don’t know.

        Either way, it still isn’t a sport sedan. Maybe more of a modern-day version of a classic Cadillac. Super quite, pretty smooth driving for the most part, and plenty of luxury crafted with plenty of quality. Oh, and ample power. Not a bad recipe if you think about it.

  • avatar
    Madroc

    That’s more or less what I did with my Mustang. It’s actually a 2013, but it had been in dealer stock for close to a year and the 2015 redesign had already been revealed, so same idea. $7K off sticker FTW.

    The choice of stock photo disappoints me. Is the Mazda5 6MT really being discontinued? I might need to grab one and hang on to it just in case.

    ETA: Maybe that’s a 2 so never mind…

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Some dealers around me have $10k off 2014 Mustang GTs. It would be very tempting if I were in the market for that sort of car.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        10k off GTs? Damned good deal when you consider that someone shopping for a GT model really doesn’t have much reason to wait for the ’15 over a ’14.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          That’s only true if all you care about is the engine. I’d wait, personally. The 2015 interior is that much better and IRS is sure to give a more refined ride even if it doesn’t give faster track times.

  • avatar
    MissM

    I bought one. 2009 Rabbit.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I bought a 2009 GTI. Discounts were big on both the MKV Rabbit and GTI at the time. I wish I would have bought a 2.5L manual Rabbit to go along with out our GTI.

  • avatar
    RayH

    I’ve been watching regular cab Tacoma 4×4 prices and hoping they drop to that modest discount range. I don’t think it’s going to happen, but I’ll talk to some dealers the end of this month. Providing it doesn’t get frame rot, it’s easily a truck I could own for 20 years since I’d only drive it for light hauling/snowy weather. If my needs change, it seems they’re easy to sell, even in regular cab form.

  • avatar
    CriticalMass

    +1 for Genesis, either V6 or V8. Terrific markdowns available right now.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    Mr. Lang: You are absolutely correct about the “third world roads of New Jersey.” Recognizing that this situation is not going to get fixed anytime, ever… well, it really narrows the choices of what’s appropriate. Unfortunately, the Land Cruiser 70 isn’t for sale here in the States. The Nissan Patrol is, but only if you want to pony up the extra jack for the Infiniti version.

    • 0 avatar

      As a fellow sufferer of NYC area roads, I often wonder what they are doing with all the toll money they steal from us at every bridge, tunnel and many major roads….

      I used to think that folks driving SUV in NYC were selfish. I now leave the “sports sedan” at home, and take the big phat truck when I go, because the roads have gotten three dimensional in the last two or three years.

      If I lived in NYC, I’d own a CUV of some sort…..just for survivability.

      Don’t go to Western Europe, the perfect flat roads will make you cry, and show you that in places where it ALSO snows, crappy roads aren’t a “given”.

  • avatar
    Brian E

    Nissan Maxima, if you can get past the rubber band. Plenty of toys and huge discounts.

    • 0 avatar
      TorontoSkeptic

      That was my first thought. I know there’s a lot of hate because OMG CVT but I find it attractive.

      I feel like full-size sedans are always going to be discounted because of the proliferation of crossovers as the default family car. Maxima, LaCrosse, Hyundai Azera or Genesis seem like good bets. Full size is this weird niche now, I don’t know anyone personally who owns one.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    When I was looking for my Verano Turbo 2.0T I ran acrossed Buick LaCrosse eAssist for about 25% off with discounts including Conquer Bonus. Not bad foe that size of car and almost 40 mpg.

    The SAAB’s during the bankruptcy sell off were a good deal too. European near-luxury for about $3000-5000 and then add $199.99 ECU tune and you could out run any Japanese V6 this side of a .GT-R.

  • avatar
    cdotson

    For a lame-duck vehicle that will last forever despite butt-turrible roads, gotta go with 2014 F150.

  • avatar
    PonchoIndian

    Bought one.
    2005 Bonneville GXP

    MSRP: $38K and change
    Out the door price $26K

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I remember really liking these cars when they came out. The goodness of the Northstar after most of the bugs were worked out with less of the Cadillac BS that sunk many an STS.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I liked that Bonneville too. I feel weird saying it though. Something about the dead GM brands makes be wax nostalgic.

      • 0 avatar
        PonchoIndian

        I’ll be sure to pat its hood tonight when I get home and tell it that it still has some (closeted) fans out there.
        She just rolled over 5500 miles.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          5500 miles? Thats it? Dang.

          I’ve liked the Bonneville since the H-body models. When I was in middle school/high school, my neighbor, a GM engineer, had a ’97 Bonneville SSEi. I thought that thing was the cat’s meow. My dad says the guy still owns it.

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            I’ve got just under 8000 on an 02 Firehawk and 5500 on the GXP.

            I have a problem that therapy can’t help. At least that’s what my wife says.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            We all have our addictions. Mine is sailing. Maybe doing the Bayview (Port Huron) to Mackinac Race this year will cure it my problem…

    • 0 avatar
      baabthesaab

      Don’t count on it! I’ve been a sailing addict for over a half-century. Crossed the Atlantic for the first time in ’12, and it left me craving even more.

      Good luck with the addiction!

      • 0 avatar
        mikeg216

        I got the cure, get rid of the wife.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        baab-

        I doubt it too. Port Huron to Mackinac will be the longest race I have ever done. I’m crewing on a customer’s boat. Usually I am just tooling around various Michigan lakes with my Hobie 16. I can get the thing rigged up and on the water in less than a half hour now. The only issues I ever have are stepping the mast and getting the mail sail up. The boat is 45 years old, so it doesn’t have some of the fancy stuff the newer Hobie Cats have.

        • 0 avatar
          FormerFF

          You guys are making me jealous. I wanted to buy an MC Scow, until I realized that in any warm time of the year, it’s nearly windless here, and the lakes are heavily roiled with powerboat wakes.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    2014 Focus. Nice car, big discount. I was going to buy one but became enamored with the electric drivetrain in the Fusion Energy and bought that instead.

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      I’ve been looking at Focus STs and seeing them advertised as low as $18,500. That’s a huge bargain considering most used ones are selling for over $20k.
      I’m still not sure I’m not going to wind up with one.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Jeep Patriot. Fairly spacious wagon type thing, decent fuel economy, can be had with AWD and manual transmission, and commonly found well south of 20k. 4×4 equipped with A/T tires, they do well off road too.

    • 0 avatar
      PonchoIndian

      great pick.
      The local Jeep dealer had $12K on the hood of leftover Liberty’s last year just before the Cherokee was arriving. That was a tempting purchase. I know they weren’t great, but the final high end models (Latitude, or Space Flight or what ever the hell they called them) were pretty sharp with the large chrome wheels, blacked out headlights and the sweet 4wd/awd system.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      Agree Danio. I have always found the Patriot oddly compelling, especially after the mid cycle interior improvements.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        I’ve had one all winter, a 2.4L North Edition (heated seats, 17″ wheels, A/T tires, uconnect, sat radio) with AWD/4×4 and a manual trans. I thought I was going to hate it, but in fact I’ve warmed up to it quite a bit for what it is. Averages 24.x mpg in mixed driving and has a good amount of room in it. A MUCH nicer drive and more efficient than the more popular Wrangler. With the center diff locked, it does well in off road conditions that most people would think that it shouldnt attempt.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I missed out on all the cars I want. Legacy GT/Mazda6/9-3/9-5/Passat wagons with the auto transmission for my wife. I like my 350Z but I would probably have gone for an 08 (better engine + headlights) if I had the chance.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    My Ashen Gray 2012 Impala LTZ, bought in late July, 2012. I always wanted one of these when the refreshed design came out for the 2006 models, so I figured I may as well buy one of the last of them. Lots of money on the hood helps, too.

    It’s the perfect highway cruiser and very comfortable for my long commute. Windows I can actually see out of pretty well helps, too, plus it’s the fastest, most powerful car I have ever owned. Dead reliable so far, like my last Impala.

    I know there’s some hate for the W-body, but since 2004 I love ‘em and wish GM would have kept refining it to make it even better.

    • 0 avatar
      aycaramba

      “I know there’s some hate for the W-body, but since 2004 I love ‘em and wish GM would have kept refining it to make it even better.”

      Hey, we love who we love, and we can’t help it.

      I rented an Impala in about 2003-2004ish (original W-body style) and remember being pretty impressed with it. Didn’t drive one again until this past winter. I know it was a de-contented “classic” edition or whatever they call the rental-only specials, but I couldn’t believe what a piece of trash it was. The engine was wonderful–lots of power and very efficient. Everything else was awful. Poor handling, and seats that were too soft with no support. And for such a big car, I was surprised that the rear seats were wanting for legroom. Exchanged it for a Camry, and it was much, much better.

      No doubt, as lame ducks, they would be an incredible value for a new car that would eat up the highway miles, but I’ll pass. Not hatin’ on the W-body, but it’s not for me.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        I’m sure they de-contented the daylights in the Limited, but my seats are very supportive.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          I remember riding in a rental “Limited” Impala and wondering why there was an empty gap in the rear center console, originally it was probably a cup holder or tray, but in this it was just…empty.

          Fine car otherwise with decent room in the engine bay for your hands, though seeing how the steeply raked rear window wasn’t fun.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Agreed. I liked some W-Bodies (first-gen LaCrosse, last-gen Grand Prix) but the last W-Body Impala is just a hateful car outside of the 3.6 engine. Doesn’t matter if it’s “Limited” or LTZ; the suspension tuning is atrocious, the noise level is way too high, the seats feel like a throwback to ’70s benches, and the materials throughout the interior feel like they got rejected by a Chinese toy factory.

        I know we have two readers here (including Zackman) who like theirs but I just can’t see it. At all.

  • avatar
    Nedmundo

    With Acura’s TLX on the way, good deals should be available on the TSX and TL, and if you can find one with a manual transmission that would be a nice bonus. A TSX wagon would be a nice score too. I’m not sure good deals are ever available on the WRX, but now might be the time if you can find a 2014 on the lot.

    Back in 2001 I got a huge deal on a Saab 9-5 Aero. It wasn’t being discontinued, but the upcoming 2002 model was a significant mid-cycle refresh and was only a month or two away, which along with a year-end GM rebate helped me get $9k off the sticker price.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      We have similar tastes. Unfortunately, in my experience Acura dealers have caught on that the TL 6MT is an enthusiasts’ special and aren’t discounting it nearly as much as they are the autobox. And given the difficulties Acura has had even getting cars to dealers (they haven’t shipped any RLXs stateside since the beginning of the year despite dealers having sold their allotments, the RLX-H is vaporware, the TLX has been repeatedly pushed back – they’re basically MDX/RLX dealers right now), dealers don’t seem to be as desperate to clear out inventory in advance of the new models as they might otherwise have been.

    • 0 avatar
      Fred

      I bought a 2014 TSX Sportwagon without GPS etc. Salesman said nobody had looked at it for the 2 months he had been there. Cost me $28,000

  • avatar
    challenger2012

    Buying a lame duck car in its last year of production, not only will give you a price advantage, but also a good chance it will be reliable, all the bugs have been worked on in the previous year models. I purchased a 2007 Mazda 6, in August of 2007, just before the new design 2008’s were to come out. I used my Ford/Mazda’s X plan to get dealer price. Mazda offered a $2,250 rebate. I wanted a 4 cylinder. The dealer had a 6 cylinder in my color and model, and gave me another 500 off to take the 6 cylinder. $2,750 off the dealer cost price. I didn’t pay for any extras, no paint protection, no pin stripes etc.

    • 0 avatar
      omer333

      Before I got a 2006 Mustang, I looked into a Mazda 6 wagon. I called a dealer in San Jose about them, he told me about all the great deals on V6 wagons.

      I got the Mustang instead.

      When we were expecting our first child, and discovered a child seat would not work in the Mustang, one of the cars I looked for was a V6 Mazda 6 wagon.

      Coulda shoula woulda.

      • 0 avatar
        Land Ark

        I was recently looking at a used V6 wagon. I read a lot about how they have a tendency to blow the engines. Something with the exhaust … catalytic converters, I think. I forget what, but it made the extremely cheap, low mile one I looked at a definite no go.
        I love the styling of the 6 wagon too.

      • 0 avatar
        challenger2012

        My first car was a 67 Mustang GT. I purchased it used when I was young and broke. Years later, when I wanted a new car, Ford was offering 1000 rebate on 2007 Mustangs and Mazda 2,250 on the 6. When I traded the Mazda 6 in on the Challenger years later, I realized I wasted 5 years of my life driving a Mazda 6, when I could have had a car that looked like my very first car. The 2005-2010 Mustangs still look great. Could of, should of, would of. Been there.

        • 0 avatar
          omer333

          I was eyeballing Chargers and Challengers before I got my Dart. I hated the seats and sightlines in the Charger and Challenger. Which was a shame, because the Pentastar V6 was so good, especially with the 8-speed auto in the Charger.

          • 0 avatar
            challenger2012

            You are correct about the sight lines. You have to be extra careful when turning, parking, backing up, etc. I liked how it looked, how quite it was and how good looking it was. This is what mattered to me. Was it the most practical car? No. But I was not buying it for everyone. I was buying it for me.

    • 0 avatar
      Andrew717

      This. I think of big part of why my 05 VW Golf was so reliable comes down to being one of the last ones built.

      And the 2014 V6 Mustang, yeah, good deals. I moved too early to get anything crazy like $15k, but got the exact configuration I wanted for a couple grand under MSRP. I’m happy.

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    Man, that wasn’t my experience. They were discontinuing the Ford Ranger when I went truck shopping and it was pretty clear you wouldn’t get any special discount.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Similar experience with the Ranger as well.

      • 0 avatar
        Shipwright

        Same here, when I was looking at the last model Ranger XT with the 5spd 2.3L four with no options they wanted $16,000 CDN. Needless to say I got a used one instead.

    • 0 avatar
      pragmatic

      Yeah the Ranger was high at the end. I got mine as a cash-for-clungers deal in 2009. With $4500 from Uncle Sam, my 1990 Mustang LX 5.0 with a rusted frame my out of pocket was approximately $11,500.

      I had a fuel leak in the Mustang and while replacing the lines to the engine found that the frame just ahead of the front suspension was gone leaving the front bumper not attached on the passenger side. Went out and found a 2.3L 5MT Ranger RWD Ranger the next day, only with the MT and RWD did the Ranger qualify for the full $4500. My first and so far only new vehicle purchase in 35 years of driving.

  • avatar
    Skink

    The previous model year’s gorgeous Hyundai Sonata.

  • avatar
    22_RE_Speedwagon

    I got my 2008 g35 sedan for $7500 off sticker in 2009 when the G37 debuted. Performance wise, its basically the same car. Now the 2013 G37 looks awfully compelling with the lowered MSRP and discounts compared to the Q50.

  • avatar
    Tinker

    I bought a 2012 Mazda CX7, 28,000 miles in 2013, Mazda dealer service rental, CPO. Considering we drive less than 4,000 miles per year, the 28,000 rental service miles are meaningless. We loan it out to our grand daughter, who it trying to run a household with a single car, as well.

  • avatar
    mars3941

    As stated several makes are coming out with totally redesigned models in 2015. Some popular models like the Dodge Caravan I heard are being discontinued so if you want a mini van there would be a good place to start. The Hyundai Sonata and Toyota Camry are being redesigned so discounts on those should be worth considering also in the mid size 20 to 30 K range. The Genesis in the higher end luxury segment as mentioned also a good one to consider. The Fusion and Malibu are always offering excellent discounts and rebates trying to outdo each other and catch the imports so you can normally catch a great deal on one. Last but not least the 14 Mustangs are offering great deals on these cars. A local dealer has a loaded GT Premium maxed out in todays paper for $27995.00 if you want to go for that bucket list muscle car.

  • avatar
    Feds

    I bought a loaded 2013 Grand Vitara on December 31, 2013. MSRP $31,135, Selling price $23,300.

    My only regret is that there are still a few available today. You could probably get another few thousand off.

    12,000 kms in, the car is an excellent exemplar of The Wobble. It’s got all the features, fits 3 kids, goes down the road fine, and now that the weather has warmed up it is returning between 22 and 24 mpg.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      “12,000 kms in, the car is an excellent exemplar of The Wobble.”

      I actually don’t remember too many auto journalists poking fun at that last Grand Vitara. Sure, it wasn’t flashy and it wasn’t full of gee-whiz features…but it was a perfectly competent crossover that could be had for quite a bargain, even before Suzuki announced its plans to leave the U.S. Its only crime was wearing a bargain-brand badge.

      And for what it’s worth, I quite liked the Kizashi…

  • avatar
    omer333

    What if it’s a lame-duck car in the second year of production? Because that’s my Dart, to a “T”.

    I looked at the sticker versus what I got financed for, and almost $4,000 was knocked off when I got mine. Good monthly payment plus a great interest-rate sweetened the deal. And no joke, it was better than what I could have got from my finance company.

  • avatar

    My current vehicle was a lame duck – a 2012 Nissan Pathfinder. 9K under the original sticker price.

    I was originally planning on getting a Frontier, but for a little more I could get a vehicle with a real backseat. I wanted a body on frame SUV, so getting the last of the BOF Pathfinders before they replaced them with the current CUV was a win, especially at the price. The only other comparable vehicle was a 4Runner, and a similarly equipped one would have cost me ~$10k more.

  • avatar
    djsyndrome

    Bought my Mazda 2 well before it entered Lame Duck status, holding onto it to give to my daughter. It’s the same as above-5 speed Sport-and costs me almost nothing to own. If I had the same criteria and budget today I’d get another in a heartbeat.

    But for something with a little more beans, I’d spring for an Evo X.

  • avatar
    TW5

    Nissan Frontier and Nissan Xterra, if you don’t mind mediocre fuel economy. The 4.0L is bulletproof and strong.

    2006 Tahoe during surging oil prices of 2007/2008.

    2014 Cruze is long in the tooth, with all-new model rumored periodically. Hyundai Elantra sales are slipping a bit, which creates bargain opportunities.

    2013 Subaru Forester

    • 0 avatar
      gessvt

      +1 on Xterra. Luddites would love it. iPod connector, no navi, manual A/C. Quick and supremely capable.

      My white whale is a ’14 Xterra Pro 4X with the 6-speed manual. Supposedly they exist, but I can’t locate one anywhere.

      • 0 avatar
        Not2Bright

        I had a 2005 Xterra with 6MT for six years. For a heavy, brick-shaped vehicle, that V6 mated to the manual six speed would get up and go! My wife refused to drive it though, and she was no stranger to a manual. The long clutch travel took some getting used to.

      • 0 avatar
        TW5

        I’m also looking for an MT Pro-4x for reasonable money. My Wrangler TJ is soon to become a rig, which means I need something capable, but not rig-ish, to carry me on less hardcore adventures. My brother’s Frontier convinced me that I needed a Nissan 4.0L Xterra.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    This closely resembles my car buying strategy. I dont necessarily go for cars in their last model year, but I try to look hard at slow selling vehicles that are technically good cars, critically praised, but unloved by the marketplace. A few examples of my past purchases, 2009 Flex, 2006 Mazdaspeed6, 2011 Nissan Maxima. The Speed6 in particular was nailed to showroom floors due to the fact that it was 6MT only, the Flex…well…is a boxy love or hate design (I love it) and the Maxima is a slightly larger Altima that costs significantly more and only slightly less than an actual premium vehicle. So, their loss is my gain I suppose. I am hoping that the replacement for the Flex and or GM lambda crossovers gets shown to the public soon as I do need a new family hauler and very much want a deal on one of these.

  • avatar
    micvog

    Just did this at the end of April… 2014 Chrysler 200 Limited. Sticker was nearly $28K and I paid $20.1K. Leather, bluetooth, 17″ alloy wheels (w/Michelin MXV4 tires), Pentastar V6 and a 10yr/100K warranty. It has a classic ’70s Detroit ride to it (soft, plush and very quiet) which I think fits the car/brand.

    This is two years after Chrysler “bought” our first Chrysler purchase with $7K off of a $32K Town and Country. The dealer has been great and the service has been inexpensive.

    I am really liking our Chryslers given their value.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven Lang

      This was the exact vehicle I had in mind when I was writing this article.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      I’ve driven rental 200s a few times within the past year, and I could actually see myself owning one (which surprised me, frankly). And I had the 4-cylinder which, for two people in the car, was just fine.

      • 0 avatar
        luvmyv8

        Interesting…. I had a 200 as a rental last month when my Wrangler went in for a recall.

        The 4 cylinder and 4 speed auto combo drove me nuts.

        However, I wouldn’t mind trying one with a Pentastar…. I mean if it can make a 2 ton brick like my Wrangler move as it does, a 200 would be downright hysterical.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      With the pentastar V6, these things are hot rods. very solid buy for 20k with all the equipment. I’m taking a friend down to my preferred dealer tonight to work a deal on one.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Beat me to it.

  • avatar
    Chris Ransdell

    I bought a 2008 Saturn Astra XR 5-speed. That was a lame duck the day it came out almost. It was a mixed bag overall but it was 100% reliable for the time I had it. I never totally warmed up to the drivetrain. It seemed like it was only enjoyable when it was being driven hard. Trying to just putter around town gently it was easy to stall and I had to think about every shift.

    I suppose it is the spiritual predecessor to my 2014 Cruze Diesel but I bought my 2010 Malibu in between the two and still have the Bu.

  • avatar
    phlipski

    2013 Ford Expedition, 2013 Chevy Tahoe – both outgoing models with big MFG rebates now…

    2014 Volvo XC90 – 11 year model run! Surely every bug has been found by now!

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      “2014 Volvo XC90″

      I’m afraid not. It might be a solid buy from a reliability standpoint, but the XC90 really isn’t discounted much at all; the average OTD price is well into the $40K range. I know plenty of people who just buy or lease a new one every couple of years (such that they’ve had three or four by now), and there’s still a lot of demand for it. If anything, the XC90 wears its age as a badge that it can still sell as an eleven-year-old vehicle for the same price as other, more-modern large luxury crossovers (like the QX60, MDX and Enclave). Plus, Volvo has announced that the next XC90 won’t actually hit showrooms until spring 2015…so it’s not time for them to start pushing the old ones out of the dealerships just yet.

      • 0 avatar
        Sjalabais

        Interesting info. Volvo usually offers their last model year cars with some discount and handsomely equipped.

        The 1998 Volvo 940 is very sought after in Europe. Here in Norway, a “Classic”, as it was called, is by many regarded as the last real car. Prices for a good one with below 300,000km mileage start at pretty precisely 10,000$ (60,000NOK).

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    MY14 W-Impala.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Ditto, compared to Panthers the W-Bodys were underdogs, and I’m sure that they’re a bit more safe in the end.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      Probably the best lame duck vehicle ever. Can’t believe I forgot about it. They’ll run for 200,000 without any issues, and they lap highway/interstate miles with ease. Decent economy and low MSRP.

      Rock bottom resale is the only sticky wicket, imo.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        A Panther is about the only car sold in the last ten years that’s worse than a W-body Impala. Hate both of them.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        I’ve rented the final W-body several times (but who hasn’t?!) I really didn’t start to like it until they put in the 3.6-liter. Then it was bliss. The snob and technophile in me won’t buy one (new or used), but if I were being honest with myself about my vehicular needs, it would solve 98% of my problems…including one very big problem, which is the Volkswagen money-pit that’s sitting in my driveway.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        True on the last point. One of the few cheap cars I feel confident buying out of warranty.

  • avatar
    Not2Bright

    In Feb 2007, I bought a local dealer’s last new 2006 Mazda Speed6 6MT off the showroom floor for $21K, I believe the sticker was $28K+. Still driving it and still love it, even more so because of the great deal.
    Now I’m on the fence between waiting for the 2015 Mustang GT, or go out and find a deal on the lame duck 2014 Mustang GT. Or not, I’m partial to powerful rear-wheel drive (or all-wheel drive) sedans with a manual tranny, like the 2003 Infiniti 6MT I had before the Mazda. Not going the Infiniti route again, will probably look at Cadillac ATS too. So hard to choose only one.

  • avatar
    hiptech

    There’s another positive you failed to mention regarding “lame duck” cars… for lack of a better word, refinement.

    During a car’s gestational period from it’s inception as a new generational model through it’s inevitable conclusion a car goes through numerous engineering, quality and appearance “improvements.”

    I learned this lesson many years ago when I purchased my first new Accord, an 1989 SE-i. I knew the next generation model was coming soon and it would be significantly larger and different. Beyond the aesthetics of the 3rd gen Accord had that I loved, I was also aware the next model would have motorized seat belts, was significantly larger and less distinctive. None of these attributes appealed to me. The ’89 SE-i was attractive (for an Accord) and amazingly reliable for 14 years (I regret not keeping it).

    Our next car was a 93 Accord SE, also the final model of it’s generation. We still own it and it too has been an incredible ride. While this car was very similar to the original 1990 model which I didn’t care for as much as the previous gen it did have some improvements which weren’t originally available. Granted it was the SE so leather, 4-wheel ABS and dual air bags (a Honda first in NA), Bose audio and exclusive Cashmere metallic paint…

    My “mistake” occurred in 2003 when I purchased the then all new 2004 Acura TSX. Even though I still own it and love it, it has had more than it’s share of maladies over the years. Nothing fatal but just irritating issues such as pinched wire harness in trunk, electrical issues related to dash lights, misc engine sensor failures, mostly routine but annoying none the less. Not the stellar reliability we experienced with our “lame duck” Accords.

    The conundrum for many ppl comes when it’s time to acquire a new car and the allure of a “new” model takes over the pleasure sensors of the brain. We all desire new and are enticed since we’ve been exposed to previous/current models for the last 5 years or more even though we may have never owned any. We’re always exposed to them in our daily lives so they appear dated.

    But more often than not, your best value in terms of price, product development and model maturity is the last model year of any particular brand…

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      ‘During a car’s gestational period from it’s inception as a new generational model through it’s inevitable conclusion a car goes through numerous engineering, quality and appearance “improvements.”’

      That’s true. The appearance improvements are obvious–such as when, in 2007, Volvo gave the XC90 a very tasteful facelift that helped it to stay modern-looking. But they also go in and quietly fix or redesign defective components, and the only way you’ll know about the “fix” is when someone on a forum tries to fix something and finds out, after the replacement part doesn’t fit, that there were variations of that part (“I tried to put in this new shift fork, but apparently they beefed-up the design a year ago and this one doesn’t fit.”)

      • 0 avatar
        SC5door

        Exactly.

        Part changes occur all the time. As well as cost reductions through a models cycle, sometime things customers see and others they don’t. (My latest project was changing an NVH pad for a very popular SUV to save a few cents per part)

        The part changes come from the form of warranty claims as well. IE: How many revisions had Ford had to fix the A pillar applique from flying off on the current Explorer?

      • 0 avatar

        BMW coolant Expansion Tanks, and front control arm bushings. (early 3)
        Bosch Alternator with a sticker saying “exact replacement part-different design”
        Mystique/Contour dashboards (dealer hated that warranty job !!)
        MDX shock absorbers, and power steering pump, (no, you can’t make them for 50 cents each) and torque converters (how Honda still has issues with an autobox is beyond comprehension-but they paid for it)

        Many is a time that I use an OEM parts site, and there are Part number 1234 a, b, c, d….

        On the Mystique/Contour pages, there was much devoted to RE-contenting the car as Ford stripped it to make it cheaper than Taurus.

    • 0 avatar

      +1

      Every car I bought near the end of cycle has had less issues than early cycle.

      A Mercury Mystique, late cycle, reliable but somewhat decontented, VW Mk 6 late cycle, BMW late cycle, few issues….reading all the forums, you learn each one “early” had some issue, fixed later. My MDX, bought early cycle, bugs galore…and the forums revealed that yes, those issues are resolved.

      A first model year buyer has another term. That word is “beta tester”. Unlike beta releases in the computer world, you don’t get fair warning, and you pay full (sometimes more) price. BMW has an interesting way of dealing with this. Usually the body style is changed, and mid cycle, the engines are refreshed….not all at once, and they can be sure one major part of the car is right.

      I’ve learned…I will never buy first year from anywhere, and late cycle, again from anywhere, is probably going to be OK.

      20 years ago, only service managers at the yearly company convention knew this stuff, and a few actuaries at the Company itself. Must drive the car makers crazy.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Sometimes the opposite is true. For example, the last two years of the 8th-Gen Accord, 2011-2, were decontented somewhat; the glovebox light was taken out (and never returned), a little LED ambient light over the console was eliminated (and a dimple in the headliner left in its place), and the little cubbies in the door handles where one’s keys could be stashed while washing the car, etc., was removed.

      Little things, but they mean a lot! (In addition to the G/B light, Honda removed the ski pass-through in the new Accords, supposedly for NVH reasons, but the real reason was co$t-cutting, as the Aussie/ASEAN-market Accord has the pass-through. They did, however, give the console light back!)

      As for the last year question: the last Accord was too big, too bloated, too low-quality for my taste!

  • avatar
    Mathias

    I’ve had several lame ducks, and they’ve all been good:
    1983 Malibu wagon, used, 305 V8 3sp auto
    1987 Audi 80 sedan, stick, good car but fuel lines rusted.
    1997 Nissan hardbody truck, stick, new, $10,500
    2007 Pontiac Vibe, stick, new, $16,xxx
    2003 Toyota Sienna, new, 0% loan, $21k, still have it
    2014 Subaru Outback Premium 6MT, new, $20,350 after CC rebates, 0% loan.

    These cars typically have the highest equipment content, have fewer problems, are priced right, but are seriously behind the times in terms of development and technology.

    Works for me.

  • avatar
    2drsedanman

    Someone posted earlier about the Camry. I would think you could get a great deal on a 14 Camry this fall when they release the revamped 15. There should be lots to pick from, 0% APR, plus cash on the hood. Also, the Mazda 5 may not be coming back. I’m not sure about the market with that car giving the popularity of the CX5. Probably get a screaming deal on a manual trans version if you could find one.

    • 0 avatar
      Marcus36

      Bought a 2013 Mazda5 6MT in December 2013, MSRP was something like $19,998 + destination and all the taxes and fees and bla bla bla, got it for $17K and they took my 2012 Mazda3 5MT that was $1K underwater.

  • avatar
    dtremit

    I’m toying with picking up a CX-9 or Edge in their last year. Nice big NA V6, big and comfortable without being hard to park, and I like their handling better than most of the rest of their class. (That said, what I really want is a two-row version of the Mazda.)

    I am waiting to see the details on the next Edge, though — it may be enough nicer to wait.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I bought a 2013 Forester XT right as the initial shipments of the 2014 were reaching dealers. >$6000 on the hood. The interior is horribly cheap and the fuel economy is bad, but it’s a great car in every other respect, particularly during winter sports season.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    We bought a 2014 Avenge SE with a V6. We were looking for used but low mileage used cars were almost as high as this one new with discounts. The V6 pulls strong and we are getting about 24/25 mixed and it doesn’t look like a jelly bean. It is a base SE with 2 customer preferred packages so we have the screenless uconnect and the V6 with the touring suspension but it is just a commuter car and it does very well at that.

  • avatar
    Shipwright

    This article ia very timely as my wife’s current DD is a ’99 Mazda Protege 5 spd, 1.6 L I4 with 390,000 km (242,000 miles). The Protege’s got about 2 years max left in it so the wife is looking for a new ride. She’s got her eye on ’14 V6 Mustang at the local Ford dealership. The pony is an oddball trim (i.e.) base trim V6 Coupe with a 6 spd and painted in Gotta Have It Green. The dealer is asking for $26,000 CDN but she won’t buy unless they drop the price to no more than $20,000.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Mom’s 2005 Pontiac Grand Am GT, the year they overlapped with the G6. I figured the dealer took her to the cleaners, little old lady with deep pockets. Found the invoice last year, she got it for $17K, stickered at almost $22K. Still paid too much IMHO, but made me feel a little better. Pontiac really wanted to clear the decks I guess.

    Seeing mom climb out of her black-on-black, RamAir inducted, spoilered GA coupe for the first time was pretty hilarious. I wish they’d kept the hood scoops for that year.

  • avatar
    heidenseek

    If you don’t mind me asking, which dealership was the Mazda2 purchased from? I am in the market for a car and have similar tastes with a similar budget and happen to be in Ohio. I am also considering the Mitsu Mirage, Ford Fiesta, and possibly a 2013 Honda Fit 5MT if I can find a dealer who will come down on the price of one since the 2015 are coming out soon.

  • avatar
    Loser

    Picked up a 2014 Charger R/T. I was waiting for the 8 speed but not a fan of the new front end. In ’04 I got a very good deal on a new Mach 1. They were giving away GTO’s in the fall of 06 when I got mine. Sad part is people were paying over sticker for the Mach’s and GT0’s when they first came out.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      “Sad part is people were paying over sticker for the Mach’s and GT0′s when they first came out.”

      Not as sad as the people who paid over sticker for the PT Cruiser when it first debuted. At least the Mach 1 Mustang and GTO are actually exciting (and somewhat rare) cars. You can’t *give away* a PT Cruiser these days…

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    Pretty much every new car I have ever gotten was a lame duck of some kind or another. Its a great way to get a great deal, as long as you know what you want and can find it. My 1996 Ranger was a leftover advertised special when the new model came out, got a Land Rover Disco that was the last demo model from the previous year and a huge discount, got a “repo” Mk4 GTI that the original buyer took home before signing all the papers then couldn’t get credit, but wouldn’t bring the car back for a week or so, putting about 1000 miles on it first, got a huge discount on that one too. Got my Grand Caravan as a leftover at typical massive Dodge discounts, picked up a Protege5 when Mazda had hundreds of them sitting on lots and no where to park the brand new Mazda3 that had just been released, I think I paid $13k OTD for an $18k car that time. Got my Explorer as the last one on the lot before the redesigned ones came out, we picked up our MR2 Spyder after it was sitting on the lot (used) for 6 months with no takers, my wife low-balled with some ridiculous number that was less than wholesale and they took it, so we drove it home that day. My GTI wasn’t exactly a lame duck but it was a year old and had under 12k miles and I got it for a steal compared to the brand new one I had been looking at that was identical except for color.

    So I am in the market again and I am tempted by the deals on the 2014 Mustangs, but I really want to see what the 2015 Mustang is like in person first. But if you wait then the chance of finding a stick shift Mustang will become nearly impossible, those go first every time. So I might ante up and buy the brand new just released model. Or I might do what I always do and shop the bargain rack. I think I can get a pretty good deal on a CPO Boss 302, most of the original owners treated them like a baby and put very little miles on them. And I like the way the 2012 looks better anyway.

  • avatar
    tedward

    Any mention of the Prius C should carry a disclaimer (*budget for tires, wheels and suspension before expecting a decent drive.)

    Lame duck is definitely the way to go though. My current cars both qualify actually.

  • avatar
    Tifighter

    How about a ’14 Outback H6 with the 5AT? Seems like a solid long-term bet…

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      The Outback is as pleasantly boring a car as Consumer Reports has ever fawned over but friends and family have bought enough of them by now to convince me that is no such thing as a solid long-term Subaru. They eat suspension bits, CV boots, gaskets, brakes, O2 sensors, hatch struts, etc. twice as fast as they have any excuse to.

  • avatar
    infinitime

    W-body Impala, last-gen Chrysler 200… Both offer lots of bang-for-the-buck. In both cases, the dollar-to-horsepower ratio is great, even if they are otherwise a bit crude.

    The good thing is that by this stage of production, most (if not all) the quirks have been worked out.

  • avatar
    kuponoodles

    I would’ve killed for a Pontiac G8

  • avatar
    ShoogyBee

    A few months before the newly-designed 2013 Accord came out, I could’ve bought a new 2012 Accord LX sedan for $18,100 and that was before any negotiating on my part. I read about new 2012 Accord SE sedans going for $19,500 at that time.

    If the LX had a power driver’s seat, I might’ve gone for it, but it was still a few thousand more than I had wanted to spend. I ended up getting a 2010 Camry LE 4-cyl instead, after the lease on my 2010 Accord LX had ended. (Would’ve bought it, but it was a no-go due to the lack of a power driver’s seat.)

  • avatar
    don1967

    Our lame-duck 2012 Hyundai Veracruz came with over $8,000 in discounts plus 0% financing. It’s silent, plush, and reliable as an anvil… a very decent RX350 clone for the price of a loaded Civic. Probably best for long-term ownership, but then again depreciation might not be so bad given the mega-discount and Hyundai’s rising star.

    There were still a few stragglers gathering dust on dealer lots as of late 2013; not sure any remain today.

  • avatar
    ccd1

    On the high end, my vote would be for the Jag XK. First of all, the model is being discontinued. Second, the Type F does most of what the XK does for less money. I know the depreciation on these cars is stupendous

  • avatar
    05lgt

    Mustang, but I’m not ready for a two door yet. My first year was a last year for an MT wagon turbo Legacy. The camcords I’d actually consider don’t rock the boat so as to avoid the discounts. If I had to buy this month I’d be hosed. Current stable is the 05 LGT and an 04 RX330. Ideal future state is a Leaf, a camcord, and a Miata. How I get from here to there depends on fate, theft, wrecks etc. new vs. used and model years involved depend on when the transactions happen.


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