General Motors has launched a new program where consumers can shop for low mileage used cars from Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac online and compare suggested prices with Kelley Blue book Fair Market Range which shows what others have paid for similar vehicles. The inventory of more than 30,000 vehicles features cars and trucks with less than 37,000 miles on them, many of which were leased, in daily rental service or were company-owned vehicles.

“We know that many of our customers who are shopping for a used car want to complete more of the process online and that number is growing,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra said in announcing the program. “GM is already a leader in online new car shopping with our
Shop-Click-Drive service and we are expanding it with the Factory Pre-Owned Collection, making the first automaker to offer this choice to consumers.”

The site,, comes online in February. Consumers can compare suggested prices on the site to Kelley Blue Book Fair Market Range, obtain a CarFax Vehicle History Report, choose the vehicle from inventory and reserve it using the Shop-Click-Drive experience and then take delivery of the vehicle. The collection includes a 3-day/150-mile exchange program, three months of free OnStar and a factory warranty.

January’s top deals

Hybrids, small gas sippers and several recently refreshed midsize sedans are among the top deals shoppers can look for in January. Fuel prices dropping below $2 per gallon in some parts of the country and the increasing popularity of crossover SUVs and trucks have contributed to a soft market for more traditional sedans as well as cutting-edge hybrids and small cars. As a result, manufacturers have responded with lease programs and incentives to shore those segments up.

“At the start of a new year, many shoppers also want to make a fresh start,” said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book. “This month’s list of deals includes stylish, award-winning mid-size sedans, fuel efficient luxury models, charming hatchbacks and two very different SUV options. At the top spot this month is a fuel-sipping hybrid sedan that’s also good looking and fun to drive.”

That vehicle, which sits at the cross-section of mid-size sedans and hybrids, is the 2016 Ford Fusion Hybrid, which the automaker is offering on a 3-year lease for $169 per month and $2,719 down. Lexus is also looking to move its hybrid CT 200h hatchback, offering it for $299 per month on a 3-year deal requiring just $999 down.

Other mid-size car deals include the facelifted 2016 Honda Accord on a 39-month $199 per month lease with $1,999 down, the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu, which just had a major makeover, with a $1,500 rebate, and the 2016 Chrysler 200 which offers a generous $4,500 cash-back allowance. The 2016 Acura ILX, which also has been remade, is available on a 3-year lease for $229 per month and $2,499 up front.

Combining fun-to-drive character with a fuel-efficient subcompact size, the 2015 Fiat 500 and Fiat Abarth models have rebates of $3,250, while the subcompact 2016 Chevrolet Trax crossover SUV is being leased for 39 months at $199 per month with $1,259 down. If you’re looking for a large people mover, Ford is offering the 2015 Flex for $219 per month on a 3-year lease with $3,739 down.

Ford tests group leases

Testing the car sharing concept in a new way, Ford has launched a pilot program in Austin, Texas, that allows a group of people to lease the same vehicle. Called the Ford Credit Link Pilot Leasing Program, the plan allows three to six individuals to lease the same vehicle over a 24-month period. The co-lessees reserve use, check or handle maintenance and share payments through a special mobile app. The leases are being offered through three Austin-area dealerships: Overt Ford, Leif Johnson Ford and Maxwell Ford.

“People are already sharing everything from books to homes,” David McClelland, a Ford Credit executive vice president of marketing and sales, told the Austin American-Statesman. “We’re seeing the potential for a shift from a single consumer paying for a single vehicle to several people sharing cost and benefits.” Unlike other car sharing or short-term vehicle use services like Zip Car, this program is designed around sharing a specific vehicle. While it allows a lower cost alternative to traditional leasing, its success depends on the flexibility of the co-lessees in vehicle use as well as shared responsibility for maintaining and paying for the vehicle. It may look good on paper, but more difficult in practice.

Peak Sales Arrive

In our previous edition of This Week in Car Buying, we reported record sales for 2015 and speculated that 2016 should see leveling off in activity. Market Watch reports that’s just the case as Federal Reserve data shows the industry actually cut production by 1.7 percent in December, which came on top of a 1.5 percent decline in November.  Even though record sales were achieved last year, overall production was up just 3.7 percent, the lowest growth rate in nearly three years.

Analysts believe the production cutbacks are evidence of a discipline on the part of automakers to avoid building too many vehicles and being trapped into offering expensive incentives in order to clear dealer lots. Concerns about sub-prime lending in the auto sector, rising interest rates and a soft stock market are also being used to explain the cutbacks.

The Rundown

BMW introduces a Competition Package on its 2016 BMW M3/M4 range.

Pricing, equipment and launch dates for the 2016 Mini John Cooper Works Convertible have been announced by the British automaker.

Jeep is going upscale with its Cherokee with a luxury edition patterned after the Jeep Grand Cherokee. The 2016 Jeep Cherokee Overland edition hits showrooms this spring.


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