As inventories begin to grow, manufacturers are beginning to turn up the heat on incentives, unleashing both lease programs and high cash offers. Even though the official end of winter is still a few weeks off, you’ll even catch a few of the Spring Sales Events already kicking off—Hyundai is one of the first out of the box with its Spring Cleaning Sale that offers up $2,000 back on its 2017 Sonata.  In addition to deals on brand new models, some of the more aggressive offers are on holdover 2016 models still on the lot.

“We’re three months in 2017, and yet many dealers still have brand-new 2016 model-year vehicles sitting on their lots they can’t wait to sell, and that presents a great opportunity for shoppers to get a good deal,” said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book. “If you’re going to keep the car for the long haul, the fact that it is a 2016 doesn’t make much of a difference, but factor the model year in if you plan to flip the car in two or three years. It will be worth less than a comparable 2017. The good news is this month’s list of the best deals truly offers something for everyone.”

Among the 2016 models featuring great deals is the Kia Optima with $159 per month 3-year lease, which requires a down payment of only $1,999. If you’re looking to buy, consider the 2016 Hyundai Veloster, which continues to have a $4,000 rebate, while the 2016 Ford Focus carries $3,000 cash back. The largest rebate among the top deals is on the 2017 Jeep Cherokee, which comes with a $4,500 rebate. Volkswagen is offering both $1,000 cash back and 0-percent financing on its 2017 Passat.

There are plenty of 2017 models featured in the top lease deals, of particular note is the all-new 2017 Infiniti QX30 compact crossover SUV. This stylish entry, which is based on the same platform as the Mercedes-Benz GLA, has an attractive $259 per month lease for 39 months and $1,999 due at signing. Although it was introduced as a 2016 model, the 2017 Buick Envision, another new entry into the crossover segment, is being offered by the GM division for $299 per month on a 3-year lease with $3,699 down. Nissan’s 2017 Sentra, which benefitted from a mid-cycle refresh, can be leased for 3 years for $149 per month with $1,999 up front. The 2017 Lexus CT 200h, a compact hybrid hatchback, carries a 3-year lease for $249 per month with $1,499 down, while sister division Toyota has a $289 per month 3-year lease on the people moving Sienna minivan with $1,999 down.

Also: Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Awards of 2017

Cars pile up

While the industry is relying on tighter production and high incentives to prevent vehicles from piling up on dealership lots, the relative disinterest in traditional passenger cars by buyers is causing inventories to climb. According to Automotive News, the days’ supply of vehicles grew to 74 days, up 6 days over a year ago. While the month-to-month inventory declined from 85 to 74 days, February is typically one of the slowest sales months which contributed to that high supply number. The days’ supply represents the time it would take to sell all the vehicles in stock at the current sales rate. Generally, the industry views a 60 days’ supply as ideal.

Light trucks continue to sell well, with a 71 days’ supply compared to a 79 days for sedans and hatchbacks. GM in particular has a glut of cars on hand with 123 days’ worth in stock compared to its 81-day supply of trucks. Buick in particular has seen its car inventory balloon to 239 days—the time it would take to sell out its flagship LaCrosse sedan at the current rate is 340 days.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Ford have both scaled back car production and that shift is reflected in their inventory figures. FCA was able to trim its stocks back to 83 days from 92 a month earlier, while Ford saw its supply drop from 95 to 78 days.

2017 Mazda CX-5 priced

Mazda’s redesigned CX-5 compact crossover SUV hits the market this month and the Japanese automaker has announced pricing that starts at $24,045. This entry level model features 17-inch alloy wheels, cloth interior, cruise control, air conditioning, power windows, locks and mirrors, pushbutton start, LED headlights and a 7-inch color touchscreen. All-wheel drive is a $1,300 option on all models.

The 2017 Mazda CX-5 Touring is the next up the ladder at $25,915 and adds such features as 6-way power driver’s seat, leatherette seating surfaces, heated front seats, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, rear HVAC vents and a reclining rear bench seat. A $780 Touring Preferred Equipment package includes a Bose 10-speaker audio system, dual zone climate control, power glass moonroof, power liftgate, navigation and auto-dimming mirrors.

The top of the line is the CX-5 Grand Touring model, which starts at $29,395 and has leather upholstery, 19-inch alloy wheels, 8-way power driver seat with power lumbar support, rain-sensing wipers and heated exterior mirrors. A Grand Touring Premium package costing $1,830 includes a heads-up display panel, heated outboard rear seats, heated steering wheel and a power passenger front seat.

Also: Class of 2018 – New Cars Ready to Roll

Buyers look to web to speed sales process

There’s been a lot of talk about the ability of being able to buy a car completely online, but customers still are looking to complete the transaction at the dealership, according to a recent survey by which found that 59 percent are pretty satisfied with the current sales process and 43 percent indicated the best reason to go to the dealership is to test drive a vehicle.

However, that doesn’t mean buyers are web-averse in the car buying process. A quick poll by shows that 62-percent of the respondents would be interested in starting a deal online by calculating monthly payments, figuring out the value of their trade (and perhaps taking advantage of various options like Kelley Blue Book’s Instant Cash Offer) before going to the dealership to finalize the deal. While seeing a future where cars are bought and sold through cyberspace, the reality is that there will be likely some blend of web surfing and brick-and-mortar visits for the foreseeable future.

The rundown

Check out the This Week in Car Buying Podcast here.

Transformed from the 2016 Scion FR-S into the 2017 Toyota 86, this compact sporty coupe will now be offered in a limited run variant. Called the 860 Special Edition, it’s set to go on sale later this month.

The 2017 Kia Niro is redefining that white space between crossover SUVs and station wagons. We take Kia’s newest and nifty hybrid for a spin in this Quick Take.

Acura is set to introduce its most powerful SUV ever. Using the same V6 hybrid powertrain found in the NSX supercar, the 2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid will produce 321 horsepower.

Scion may be gone, but its legacy lives on in a subcompact crossover SUV intended for younger buyers. We get behind the wheel of the 2018 Toyota C-HR during the vehicle’s recent launch.

In the market for a new car? Explore these useful tips on how to get the best deal:

Kelley Blue Book’s Complete Guide to Incentives

All you need to know about leasing

Which dealer services are right for you?

What to look for in your next economy car

Ten insider tips for new car buying


New Car Spotlight


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