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4 great deals on American-made cars for July 4th

By: · June 27, 2013

Amid the 4th of July fireworks and celebrations, car dealerships are offering eye-catching deals on new cars, with deep discounts and low-rate financing. While the local airwaves are awash in red, white, and blue commercials encouraging you to hurry in (“These deal won’t last!”), we cut through the hype to identify the best deals on American-made small cars, sedans, SUVs, and pickup trucks.

To ensure these picks are good cars, as with all our Best New Car Deals, each meets Consumer Reports’ criteria to be recommended. These vehicles scored well in our testing, have average or better reliability in our latest subscriber survey, and performed well in government or insurance-industry safety tests, if evaluated.

Each vehicle highlighted below offers at least a 10-percent discount off the retail price in national incentives, available through either July 4th or the 8th depending on manufacturer. Others may also carry regional incentives, enabling further savings for informed negotiators.

We focused the list on just those models that are made in the United States, regardless of brand. The models spotlighted standout as having a tempting combination of overall road test score and significant discount. We also mention other vehicles that likewise are both Recommended and attractively priced.

When buying in the summer, it is important to know that a 2013 model will soon be considered a one-year-old car, despite being relatively fresh off the showroom floor. This means the car will take an initial (admittedly painful) depreciation hit. However, the equity impact will balance out over time, should you hold on to the car for several years, and especially if you log more than 12,000 miles a year.

As is often the case, several models that made the cut will be updated or replaced with an all-new model. It pays to understand what is coming down the road, as it may impact your decision to by the last of a generation or empower your negotiations. (Visit our New Car Preview.)

Small cars: Chevrolet Cruze LS
A sharp, competent small sedan, the Ohio-built Chevrolet Cruze feels solid and substantial, handles competently, and has a taut, steady, and controlled ride. The well-finished cabin is spacious up front but cramped in the rear. Noise levels are moderate, which is fairly good for this class. The base model’s 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine provides just average acceleration. Fuel economy is so-so for a small sedan. Higher trims get a quieter and more responsive turbocharged four-cylinder that gets the same fuel economy as the base engine. The Eco version’s overall fuel mileage improves by only one mpg, and consequently isn’t worth the upgrade.

Make & model Expires MSRP Invoice price Customer rebate Dealer incentive Potential savings below MSRP
Chevrolet Cruze 1LT 7/4 $20,465 $19,679 Yes No $2,590

Other patriotic small car deals: Acura ILX (Greensburg, Indiana) and Chevrolet Sonic (Orion Township, Michigan).

Sedans: Acura TL
Built in Marysville, Ohio, the Acura TL is a responsive, well-dressed upscale sedan. The price climbs quickly as optional content is added. We’re seeing the best deal with the base model. It features a slick, punchy 3.5-liter V6, teamed with a six-speed automatic. That combination returns a good 24 mpg overall, but the car requires premium fuel. We found the handling taut and the ride compliant and firm, with good isolation from bumps. The front seats are well shaped and supportive, but the rear seat is tight. The well-finished interior is cluttered with buttons, even when not equipped with the optional navigation system. An AWD model with a 3.7-liter V6 and tauter suspension is also available. The TL has strong reliability record, and we predict this model will be better than average.

Make & model Expires MSRP Invoice price Customer rebate Dealer incentive Potential savings below MSRP
Acura TL 7/8 $36,800 $34,607 No Yes $2,220

Another patriotic sedan deal: Kia Optima (West Point, Georgia).

SUVs: Chevrolet Traverse
The large, three-row Chevrolet Traverse is a civilized alternative to a truck-based SUV and right now, it is also an attractive deal. Built in Lansing, Michigan, the Traverse is a mechanical sibling to the Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia, another model notably discounted for the holiday. The Traverse has been recently freshened, with improvements to the transmission, ride, and interior quality. In our tests, the smooth-and-refined 3.6-liter V6 returned 16 mpg overall. Handling is relatively agile and secure, and the ride is taut yet comfortable and steady. Reliability has been average.

Make & model Expires MSRP Invoice price Customer rebate Dealer incentive Potential savings below MSRP
Chevrolet Traverse 7/4 $36,585 $34,799 Yes No $2,570

Other patriotic SUV deals: Chevrolet Equinox (Spring Hill, Tennessee); Chevrolet Suburban (Arlington, Texas); Dodge Durango (Detroit, Michigan); GMC Acadia (Lansing, Michigan); Yukon XL (Arlington, Texas); Honda Pilot (Lincoln, Alabama); Jeep Grand Cherokee V6 (Detroit, Michigan); and Mitsubishi Outlander Sport (Normal, Illinois).

Pickup trucks: Chevrolet Silverado Crew Cab
The outgoing Silverado and its GMC Sierra twin are well-rounded pickups with an available full-time four-wheel-drive system and generous payload capacity. Ride quality is decent with the Z85 suspension, and handling is secure. High-end models have very good interior fit and finish, and all variants have simple controls. The crew cab is roomy, with easy access. A six-speed automatic slightly improves fuel economy and acceleration with the tested 5.3-liter V8. These Indiana-built trucks are being replaced by an all-new design, now arriving at dealerships. The outgoing trucks hold up well against the competition, although the replacements promise better fuel economy and more premium features. Negotiate and great deals can be had.

Make & model Expires MSRP Invoice price Customer rebate Dealer incentive Potential savings below MSRP
Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Crew Cab 7/4 $39,930 $37,150 Yes No $3,668

Other patriotic deals on 4×4 trucks: Ford F-150 (Dearborn, Michigan, and Claycomo, Missouri); GMC Sierra 1500 (Fort Wayne, Indiana); and Ram 1500 (Warren, Michigan).

To research these vehicles further, or to find the latest trim-level pricing on any model, visit the Consumer Reports car model pages (available to online subscribers).

To ease the buying process, Consumer Reports offers a Build & Buy Program to subscribers. For Build & Buy, a nationwide network of over 6,000 participating dealers have agreed to pass along discounts provided by any applicable manufacturer incentives for the vehicle you’re buying. This includes unadvertised manufacturer-to-dealer incentives, for which it’s typically up to the dealer whether to keep the savings or pass them on to the customer. Last month the average estimated savings off MSRP was $2,675.

See all current Best Deals or use our New Car Selector to create your own list of vehicles by sorting and filtering by the factors that matter most to you.

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