Haunted by the prospect of showing up to your neighborhood’s trunk-or-treat extravaganza with your current car this Halloween? Perhaps it’s time to skip the short-term solution and start shopping for a long-term one instead. With overall year-over-year sales down slightly through September, the auto industry will be looking to put the fright in dealers to get cars moving off the lots — and that can only mean treats for you as a shopper.
Related: How to Use Incentives, Rebates and Finance Deals
Some of these incentives last until the end of the month, but one in particular is good through the end of the year. Which are which? Read on to find out.
How much can I save? Mounds, which ought to leave plenty in the pocket to sufficiently satisfy the subdivision’s sweet tooth. Trax sales were down more than 18 percent (though the year-ago month was relatively strong) as 2018 models averaged 80 days on dealer lots, eight more days than the weighted average for all 2018s. Now through Oct. 31, Chevrolet is offering up to $3,250 off; for a base LS trim, that amounts to savings of roughly 17 percent.
What about discount financing? Through Oct. 31, qualified shoppers can get zero percent financing for 72 months plus a $1,000 cash allowance when financed through Chevrolet parent GM’s credit arm, GM Financial.
Didn’t you say this thing was as empty as the calories in my Milky Way? You’re thinking of the 2015 Trax, which did indeed finish last in our first Subcompact SUV Challenge. But Chevy revamped it for 2017 with some much-needed tech and safety updates, as well as a couple of nice interior touches. There may be less storage space in the current-generation Trax, but the last thing you need is more space for all that candy you conveniently “forgot” to hand out to the kids.
How much can I save? Enough to spend on a pretty lavish car-stume. The 300 is part of America’s waning love affair with the sedan and sales were down 4 percent in September, slowing — but not halting — its skid; cars sat on the lots for around 76 days this past month. Now through Oct. 31, shoppers can get a weighty $6,000 off 2018 300 models, which start at $30,390 in Touring trims.
What about discount financing? Qualified shoppers can get 3.9 percent APR for 72 months through Oct. 31, though that financing will have to go through Chrysler’s credit arm, too.
Wasn’t the 300 part of a recall involving the Dodge Demon or something? Good memory, but that was only for the 2014-16 model years. The 2018 Chrysler 300 already has three recalls to its credit, granted, but a refined ride coupled with a superlative V-6, an easy-to-use touchscreen and the rare ability to fit three child seats in the backseat ought to have those of you devoted to three-box sedan setups at least considering the Chrysler.
How much can I save? A pile of cash good for leaving Gobstopper-filled trick-or-treaters gobsmacked. Through Jan. 2, 2019, Ford is offering some $3,000 off the 2018 Mustang, which didn’t have an awful time of it sales-wise in September — numbers were down only 1.3 percent for the month — but also didn’t move particularly quickly off lots, either: Convertibles sat for 88 days and coupes for 117, both well beyond September’s 72-day weighted average.
What about discount financing? Also through Jan. 2, qualified buyers going through Ford’s credit arm can get 2.9 percent financing for 60 months plus $500 cash on top of that.
I hate Halloween and want to scare the hell out of any kid who comes to my door. You could just not answer when your bell rings, but the Mustang GT’s 5.0-liter V-8 performance exhaust might do the trick, too; just remember to turn off the Quiet Exhaust. Also: These discounts don’t apply to Shelby variants of the Mustang, so you’ll have to manage with your usual finagling for those.
Editor’s Choice: Nissan Pathfinder
How much can I save? A healthy amount (which you could use more of in your October diet). Through Oct. 31, those with the right credit can get up to $3,750 off 2018 Pathfinders — around 12 percent off base S trims, for starters. Nissan is pricing these to move after a weak September in a competitive class; sales were down 16 percent year-over-year and down nearly 19 percent for the year as the three-row SUV sat on dealer lots for an unhealthy 93 days on average.
What about discount financing? Now through Halloween, qualified shoppers can get up to $1,250 off, in addition to zero percent financing for 60 months.
Shouldn’t I just go with a 2019 Pathfinder instead? That depends on what you’re buying. Though prices rose across the board only slightly for 2019, the real gains come for the lower trim levels: Base S models add a rear sonar system as standard, while SV and higher trims add blind spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert and adaptive cruise control. If you were thinking an SL or Platinum Pathfinder, it stands to Riesen (ahem) that the ’18 may be a better bet.
We focus on cars new to the list or ones we haven’t highlighted in the past few months. But many cars from recent months still have deep discounts in October:
How We Look for Deals
To look for October deals, we considered sales through April among the top 100 best-selling cars, specifically eyeing models whose sales underperformed the market. We also looked at days-to-turn data from September, which measures how long it takes on average for dealers to sell a given car. Both factors illustrate September’s slow sellers, cars on which dealers could be more willing to cut a deal.
Finally, we looked at factory cash discounts and low-interest-rate financing offers that are especially high for the price of the car. After all, $2,000 is a lot more on a Ford Focus than a Ford Explorer.
Sales and incentives data come from Automotive News and automakers’ websites, while days-to-turn data come from J.D. Power and Associates. Remember, our numbers are current as of publication for the markets we survey (generally Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles and New York). They reflect advertised customer discounts, not unadvertised factory-to-dealer cash. Discount financing typically requires qualifying credit, too, and incentives may vary by region and trim level; automakers may also change them later in the month. In sum: Your discounts may vary, so check with your local dealer for specifics.
Cars.com’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.