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Deals of the week: If you don't have looks, you'd better have money

2014 Ford Flex

Ford

Looks matter in the car business. They matter a lot.

How else to explain the plight of Ford's boxy-but-good Flex, a completely sensible family wagon that is well priced, extraordinarily functional, and boasts the design flare of a funeral hearse?

Everyone can agree on Flex styling. It's unappealing. This explains why in February, Canadians purchased 58 Flex wagons. Not good at all. And styling also explains why Ford of Canada has now slapped on fat discounts to move the Flex off dealer lots.

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Truly, you would be hard pressed to find any SUV or wagon that can do so much for this much – more than $5,000 in factory discounts, thanks to the latest version of Ford of Canada's Employee Discount program. And you can combine that bonus money with 1.49 per cent financing for 48 or 60 months.

The sales sweeteners certainly have spurred demand. In June, Ford sold not 58 but 542 Flex wagons, an almost ten-fold increase from the doldrums of winter. If looks fail to motivate buyers, money on the table often serves as an excellent substitute.

Three other good deals also are available on models that while not as controversial as the Flex, are not what anyone would call design masterpieces, either. "Plain" would be a fair assessment of the Nissan Altima mid-size sedan and two crossovers, the Kia Sorento and Toyota Venza.

Plain, though, isn't good enough any longer. Thus, the Altima, despite being very fuel efficient and updated relatively recently, is on offer with a $4,000 factory sweetener plus whatever the savvy buyer can negotiate from the dealer.

Kia has done Nissan one better with a $5,000 factory incentive on the useful Sorento. And the Venza, essentially a Toyota Camry station wagon, is wearing a $3,500 after-tax offer from Toyota Canada.

Mercedes-Benz design chief Gorden Wagener says there are no more bad cars on the road . He's correct, the Flex, Sorento, Altima and Venza are perfectly good cars. Unfortunately, styling – good looks -- is now central to winning over buyers.

Without eye-catching appeal, car companies must resort to incentives to entice buyers. And that's why the sex appeal-less Altima, Flex, Sorento and Venza are such good deals today.

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Deals of the Week consulted with unhaggle.com, Car Help Canada, carcostcanada.com, and other sources on these offers. As usual, pricing information here is subject to change and dealer discounts vary, so consult your dealer for the final details, including expiry dates for all offers.

2014 Ford Flex Ford Ford  

2014 Ford Flex 4 door SEL FWD

  • MSRP: $37,099
  • Freight, dealer prep, air conditioning tax: $1,785
  • Employee Pricing discount: $3,011
  • Factory discount: $2,000 (manufacturer incentive)
  • Taxable subtotal: $33,873
  • Total price with 13% HST: $38,276.49
  • The Employee Pricing and manufacturer incentive can be combined with 1.49% financing for 48 or 60 months

2014 Nissan Altima Nissan Nissan  

2014 Nissan Altima 4 door Sedan V6 CVT 3.5 SL

  • MSRP: $32,998
  • Freight, dealer prep and air conditioning tax: $1,710
  • Dealer discount (estimated): $2,000
  • Factory discount: $4,000 (manufacturer incentive)
  • Taxable subtotal: $28,708
  • Total price with 13% HST: $32,440.04
  • The manufacturer incentive cannot be combined with 0.00% financing for 48 or 60 months

2014 Kia Sorento Kia Kia  

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2014 Kia Sorento FWD 4 door I4 GDI Auto LX

  • MSRP: $26,695
  • Freight, dealer prep, AC tax: $1,800
  • Dealer discount (estimated): $1,200
  • Factory discount: $5,000 (manufacturer incentive)
  • Taxable subtotal: $22,295
  • Total price with 13% HST: $25,193.35
  • The manufacturer incentive can be combined with 2.99% financing for 48, 60 or 84 months.

2014 Toyota Venza Toyota Toyota  

2014 Toyota Venza 4 door Wagon V6 AWD

  • MSRP: $32,250
  • Freight, PDI, AC tax: $1,825
  • Dealer discount (estimated): $2,200
  • Taxable subtotal: $31,875
  • Total price with 13% HST: $36,018.75
  • Factory discount: $3,500 (manufacturer incentive)
  • Final price: $32,518.75
  • The manufacturer incentive is not available with 0.00% financing for 48 or 60 months.

Pricing information source: unhaggle.com and carcostcanada.com. Calculations based on Ontario customers. Please note that while the information above is accurate at the time of publication, incentives are given at the discretion of individual dealers, and may be changed or discontinued at any time. Where noted, "dealer discounts" are negotiated with the customer on a case-by-case basis. Unhaggle Savings are actual discounts received by Unhaggle customers.

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About the Author
Senior writer, Globe Drive

In 25 years of covering the auto industry, Jeremy Cato has won more than two-dozen awards, including three times being named automotive journalist of the year. Jeremy was born in Montreal and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. More

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