No one likes doing homework. But unlike your eighth grade Algebra, studying changes in the automotive market should come with a quick payoff worth thousands of dollars.
The key point here is that smart shoppers need to know more than just the dollar value of a sales sweetener. It's just as important to know if that sweetener is on yesterday's stock or something better, something much newer, and not in terms of the production date, but the design, the engineering and the packaging.
Case in point: the 2013 Subaru Forester is a new crossover-type wagon in the sense that if you drive one off the lot, you're the first owner and the car was manufactured quite recently. It's newly built, but it's yesterday's design.
The all-new 2014 Forester is another animal entirely. The look here is different, though in all honesty it's more evolutionary than revolutionary. The big, important changes are inside, where the cabin is roomier and tidier, and underneath, where Subaru has greatly improved the nuts and bolts.
In base models, the 2.5-litre horizontally-opposed engine still churns out 170 horsepower and the all-wheel-drive system is unchanged, but the 2014 Forester achieves better fuel economy thanks to the new CVT (continuously variable transmission). Also, the base gearbox for the Forester in 2014 is a six-speed manual, versus a five-speed in 2013.
Pricier 2.0XT Foresters get a new 2.0-litre direct injection twin-scroll turbocharged engine producing 250 horsepower. It replaces a bigger, less efficient 2.5-litre turbo that produced just 224 hp in 2013. Moreover, the 2014 transmission is an eight-speed CVT, while in 2013 the gearbox was a four-speed automatic that was ancient by modern standards. Not only is there a performance improvement, fuel economy for 2014 has improved substantially (litres/100 km): 8.9 city/7.2 highway for 2014 versus 11.0 city/8.4 highway for the 2013.
The expensive upgrades to the 2014 Forester help explain the incentives Subaru Canada is offering right now. An outgoing 2013 Forester can be had with a $4,000 factory rebate, versus just $500 on the 2013. Keep in mind, also, that Subaru has come to market with only a modest price reduction on the 2014 2.0XT Forester ($34,495) versus the 2013 2.0XT ($35,895).
The differences between the 2014 and 2013 Forester are huge. But not so for a Lexus ES300h, even though a 2013 model has a $3,000 factory rebate, versus $1,000 for the 2014. Lexus did major engineering and design work for the 2013 ES hybrid, which means the 2014 model is almost identical. The smart shopper will first look for a leftover 2013 and take the money off the table.
Ditto for two others in this week's Deals. That is, the 2013 Acura TL is on offer with a $7,000 factory rebate, versus $5,000 for the 2014. There's little difference between the two. Also, the 2013 Mazda5 is being pushed out the door with a $3,000 factory rebate, versus $2,000 for the 2014.
Of course, this time of year dealers have largely thinned their lots of 2013 models; real homework is needed to unearth sales gems. So track the incentives, but also keep abreast of the actual changes car companies make from year to year on each of their models. Only then will you know if you're getting a steal versus just a deal.
Deals of the Week consulted with www.unhaggle.com, www.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 all the final details, including expiry dates for all offers.
2013 Subaru Forester Auto 2.5XT Limited
- MSRP: $35,895
- Freight, dealer prep, air conditioning tax: $1,730
- Dealer discount (estimated): $1,500
- Factory discount: $3,500 (Non-stackable factory-to-dealer rebate)
- Factory discount: $500 (Holiday Bonus factory-to-dealer rebate)
- Taxable subtotal: $32,125
- Total price with 13 per cent HST: $36,301.25
- 0.90 per cent financing for 60 months can be combined with the $500 incentive
2013 Lexus ES 300h 4 door Sedan
- MSRP: $43,900
- Freight, dealer prep and air conditioning tax: $2,130
- Dealer discount (estimated): $2,000
- Factory discount: $3,000 (Factory-to-dealer rebate)
- Taxable subtotal: $41,030
- Total price with 13 per cent HST: $46,363.90
- 0.0 per cent financing for 60 months can be combined with cash discount of $2,000
2014 Acura TL Auto SH-AWD w/Tech Package
- MSRP: $47,590
- Freight, dealer prep, AC tax: $2,130
- Dealer discount (estimated): $2,000
- Factory discount: $5,000 (Factory-to-dealer rebate)
- Taxable subtotal: $42,720
- Total price with 13 per cent HST: $48,273.60
- $2,000 factory incentive can be combined with 1.90 per cent financing for 36 months
2014 Mazda5 Auto GST
- MSRP: $23,195
- Freight, PDI, AC tax: $2,030
- Dealer discount (estimated): $1,000
- Factory discount: $2,000 (Factory-to-dealer rebate)
- Taxable subtotal: $22,225
- Total price with 13 per cent HST: $25,114.25
- 0.0 per cent financing for 36 months cannot be combined with any cash incentive
Pricing information source: www.unhaggle.com and www.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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