Skip to main content
car review

Almost no one wants to date a homely car. Or to put it another way, ugly cars don't sell. That's the brutal, common-sense truth revealed in the 2012 Avoider Study from J.D. Power and Associates.

Of course J.D. Power stated the obvious in a much gentler way. Power kindly noted that exterior styling remained the top reason why buyers avoid purchasing a particular vehicle.

So it's the sheet metal, stupid. Good looks in the car-selling game have much to say about success or failure.

The Power study, in fact, found that an ugly design is a greater turn-off than:

a) a high purchase price; b) poor reliability; c) a lousy interior; and d) negative ratings and reviews

Apparently we're more willing to put up with an overpriced, unreliable clunker than endure living with a merely unattractive car.

With the latest "avoider" research in hand, Deals of the Week went scurrying for bargains on what we might call – ah, hem, cough, cough – less than lovely rides. And there it was: the 2012 Chevrolet Impala.

The Impala is not an ugly car. It's merely the Rick Santorum of mainstream sedans – Santorum being the former U.S. Senator seeking the Republican nomination, he of the bland looks and a love for snug sweater vests and lectures about "family values."

So the deal: with the Impala, GM Canada has as much as $4,000 in cash discounts on the table, perhaps more, and that money can be combined with whatever dealer discount you're able to negotiate.

Deal two: the Nissan Sentra. Again, like the Impala, the Sentra is not what anyone sensible person would call "ugly," but we've heard Nissan dealers talk about the Sentra's looks in, shall we say, less than enthusiastic terms.

Not surprisingly the Sentra has a $2,500 rebate in play for cash purchases. That's a fair sum on an affordable and completely reliable compact sedan.

Meantime, the Avoider study found that fuel economy was the most influential reason why buyers actually pulled the trigger on a new vehicle purchase – more important than reliability, the deal and exterior styling. The latter three factors had been considered the most important in the previous Avoider study.

In the latest study, the Chevrolet Volt, Nissan Leaf and Toyota Prius captured the most attention from new-vehicle buyers. Interestingly, aside from excellent fuel economy, reliability was cited as a key driver to influence consumer interest in the Prius hybrid.

Sure enough, if you can find a 2011 Prius, Toyota Canada has a $3,000 cash-to-consumer rebate on offer. This deal can be combined with 3.9 per cent financing for up to five years.

And the Volt? In the Avoider study, Volt buyers cited the image the model portrayed as the most prominent reason for purchase, not the deal. But is there money on offer on the $41,545 Volt?

Yes, the Ontario Government has $8,230 for you and the Quebec Government has $7,769. In addition, GM Canada has a $500 Auto Show Bonus available, though in reality it might be worth only $250 because a $250 Dealer Participation Fee is involved in exercising the bonus.

As usual, Deals of the Week obtained pricing information from, among other sources. Here are the numbers.

2012 Chevrolet Volt

  • MSRP: $41,545
  • Freight, dealer prep, air conditioning tax: $1,550
  • Dealer discount (estimated): $1,400
  • Taxable subtotal: $41,695
  • Total price with 13% HST: $47,115.35
  • Government rebate: $8,230 (Cash for Leases factory-to-customer rebate)
  • Factory rebate: $500 (Auto Show Bonus factory-to-dealer rebate)
  • Final price: $38,385.35

2012 Nissan Sentra CVT 2.0

  • MSRP: $16,778
  • Freight, air conditioning tax and dealer prep: $1,567
  • Dealer discount: $350
  • Factory discount: $2,500 (Non-stackable Trading Dollars factory-to-dealer rebate for cash purchases)
  • Taxable subtotal: $15,495
  • Total price with 13% HST: $17,509.35

2012 Chevrolet Impala LS

  • MSRP: $28,125
  • Freight, dealer prep and air conditioning tax and Green Levy: $1,595
  • Dealer discount (estimated): $1,200
  • Factory discount: $2,000 (Stackable Cash factory-to-dealer rebate)
  • Taxable subtotal: $26,520
  • Total price with 13% HST: $29,967.60
  • Factory discount: $500 (Auto Show Bonus factory-to-dealer rebate)
  • Factory discount: $1,500 (Cash for Lease factory-to-customer rebate)
  • Final price: $27,967.60

2011 Toyota Prius

  • MSRP: $27,800
  • Freight, dealer prep, AC tax: $1,565
  • Dealer discount (estimated): $750
  • Taxable subtotal: $28,615
  • Total price with 13% HST: $32,334.95
  • Factory discount: $3,000 (Consumer Cash factory-to-dealer rebate)
  • Final price: $29,334.95

Correction: The Ontario and Quebec rebate figures were incorrect in an earlier version of this story, and have been changed in the story above.

Pricing information source: 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. Dealer discounts are negotiated with the customer on a case-by-case basis.