'Leftover' Vehicles from 2012 Can Be Big Bargains

Last year's car models on sale.

Sept. 17, 2012 -- This is a great time to shop for a new car because several 2012 models have been redesigned for 2013, so dealers are trying to get rid of the old models fast --and maybe cheap. This insight comes from my pal Philip Reed, Consumer advice editor for auto website Edmunds.com. Phil's on a roll! A couple of weeks ago, I passed along his suggestion that you have your new vehicle delivered instead of picking it up to save time and avoid sales pressure. And now he has this gem about scoring a great deal on auto "leftovers."

The key is that you have to be the sort of person who doesn't care if the body style of your car is outdated. If that's you, read on, because this happens every year with a handful of vehicles, but this time there are a hefty 13 cars on the list! "This year there is a wide range of vehicles that will soon be updated significantly," said Reid, "from sedans, to sports cars to SUVs, and many of them rank among the best-selling models in America." Some of these vehicles will be totally redesigned, others merely "refreshed," and a few will be eliminated. Here they are:

2012 Chevrolet Impala

2012 Chevrolet Malibu

2012 Chevrolet Traverse

2012 Ford Escape

2012 Ford Fusion

2012 Ford Mustang

2012 GMC Acadia

2012 Honda Accord

2012 Hyundai Santa Fe

2012 Lexus ES 350

2012 Nissan Altima

2012 Nissan Pathfinder

2012 Toyota Avalon

To read what the car experts at Edmunds have to say about the vehicles above, click here. And I always recommend reading what Consumer Reports has to say about a make and model before committing. Not only is it likely that these makes and models are discounted, the manufacturers may be offering incentives and rebates on them as well. I would spell out the available deals for you here, but they are usually regional, so it's tough. However, Edmunds offers a service where it will email you when it becomes aware of incentives on the model you are looking for.

There is some downside to buying the end of the year dregs. When you purchase the last year of a body style, it depreciates more quickly, because even if YOU aren't vain about that sort of thing OTHER people are! So if you're going to go for one of these deals, ask yourself whether you plan to keep the car for several years. If so, you're fine, because the steeper depreciation at the beginning evens out over time. Of course if you REALLY want to save money, you'll buy one of these same vehicles USED from a previous model year. But that's another column...