The shifting seasons signal a change of the automotive guard, with the 2015 models being ushered out to make room for the new 2016s rolling into town. Consequently, there is a flurry of advertising with too-good-to-be-true pricing designed to clear the dealership lots. Before racing to capture the latest marketed deal, remember that the real smart buys start with choosing a good all-around car, then negotiating a great deal.
Hence, to take full measure of the quality of new-car deals available, our analysts have studied recent nationwide transactions, then layered in current available incentives to predict the average savings available now. This is labeled as "Market average" in the charts below. Among the many discounted models, we narrowed our focus to those that meet Consumer Reports’ stringent criteria to be recommended, meaning they 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.
The predicted transaction prices for these highlighted 2015 models shows potential savings off MSRP of about $3,300 or more. (Of course, some greater deals can be found on non-recommended vehicles, including full-sized pickup trucks.) For this grouping, we ranked the models based on predicted dollar savings, with the Cadillac CTS example showing that buyers can save $5,650 off MSRP on average.
You'll find specific savings for each model, including other trim variations, on the Consumer Reports car model pages.
Before buying, be sure to read "Should I Buy an End-of-Summer New Car?" Consumer Reports Build & Buy Car Buying Service
When buying a car, in addition to research and reviews, Consumer Reports offers subscribers access to the Build & Buy Car Buying Service at no additional cost. Through this service, a nationwide network of about 10,000 participating dealers provide upfront pricing information and a certificate to receive guaranteed savings off MSRP (in most states). The pricing information and guaranteed savings includes eligible incentives. Consumer Reports subscribers have saved an average of $2,919 off MSRP with the Build & Buy Car Buying Service.
The CTS is a luxury sedan with agile handling and a firm, absorbent ride that crowns it as one of the sportiest cars in the class. But as satisfying as it is to drive, the CTS can also be frustrating. Much of the blame goes to the overly complex Cue infotainment-system. The cabin is super-luxurious, with impressive material quality. But rear-seat room is snug and the trunk is relatively small. Neither the four-cylinder turbo nor the 3.6-liter V6 is as refined as the best in class. The high-end Vsport version is better, with effortless thrust. And 2015 marks the return of the CTS-V, which gets its engine from the Corvette Z06.
Hyundai's flagship competes with the largest luxury sedans but costs a good deal less. The Equus absorbs and hides all but the most severe impacts, but buoyant body motions give the car a busy feeling at times. Handling can best be described as ponderous, with notable body lean and steering that lacks any feedback. The standard V8 has smooth and refined power delivery, and the eight-speed automatic does its job with little notice. The interior is spacious and well-finished, but some controls are complex. Overall, the Equus doesn't quite measure up to the established luxury brands. Available features include adaptive cruise control and a lane-departure warning system.
Although it dates back to 2008, the large Traverse is among the most competitive three-row SUVs. We liked its firm, comfortable, and quiet ride, and its relatively agile, secure handling. But like its corporate cousins, the Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia, it's beginning to show its age. The 3.6-liter V6 and six-speed automatic powertrain is smooth and powerful enough, but it works hard in this large SUV, and its 16-mpg overall is uncompetitive. A big plus is the ability to fit adults in the roomy third row. Fit and finish has improved, and for 2015 forward-collision and lane-departure warning systems are available.
The Touareg has the feel of a sharp-handling, luxury SUV, with a plush interior and wide, supportive seats that deliver all-day comfort. The V6 turbodiesel, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, pulls effortlessly and returned 24-mpg overall in our tests. Its towing capacity is generous. The low-speed ride is overly firm, but it's steady on the highway. The cabin is quiet and access is easy, but our almost-$50,000 Touareg lacked some common luxury features, such as a sunroof. The hybrid is the top-of-the-line version. It is quick and shuts off the engine when coasting, even at highway speeds.
Though it's starting to feel a little dated, the Acadia is still competitive among three-row SUVs. Like its twins, the Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave, it has a spacious and quiet interior, with a third-row seat that's roomy enough for adults. Seating for eight is available. Handling is relatively agile and secure, with responsive steering, and the ride is comfortable and steady. Its 3.6-liter V6 is smooth and refined, but it has to work hard and it gets mediocre gas mileage. Upgraded touch-screen infotainment systems bring more capability. Rear visibility isn't great. Denali versions have more features but no better functionality or performance.
The Cadenza is a competent and credible competitor among large sedans. There's a lot here for the money, including a luxurious and quiet interior, a roomy backseat, responsive handling, and a comfortable ride. The 293-hp, 3.3-liter V6 engine and standard six-speed automatic combine to make a slick powertrain that delivers a competitive 22-mpg overall. Controls are refreshingly easy to use. A host of electronic safety aids are available, but some of the most useful ones are bundled into expensive options packages.
The midsized Passat sedan has a lot going for it, including generous interior space, responsive handling, and a comfortable, quiet ride. The primary powertrain is an energetic 1.8-liter turbo four-cylinder and a six-speed automatic. High-end versions use a powerful 3.6-liter V6. The 1.8-liter turbo averaged a very good 28-mpg overall and 39 on the highway. The diesel got 36-mpg overall and delivers a lot of mid-range torque, but is hesitant off the line. Front seats are accommodating but very firm. Extra-spacious rear seats are a big plus, and the trunk is huge, but fit and finish is mundane, not spectacular.
The Tiguan is a solid and agile small SUV. Pluses include high-end fit and finish, and spacious rear seating. Handling is very responsive and enjoyable, with sharp steering and strong cornering grip that contribute to the Tiguan staying secure and unflappable at its limits. With its 19-inch tires, the SEL rides stiffly. The lower S and SE trim lines, with 17-inch tires, ride more comfortably and quietly. Some trim lines lack automatic climate control. The 2.0-liter, turbo four-cylinder engine is smooth and purposeful, and yielded 21-mpg overall in our tests. Updates for 2016 include more trim lines getting a power driver's seat.
Even after six years on the market, the large Enclave remains a competitive three-row SUV. We liked its firm, comfortable, and quiet ride and its agile, secure handling. But like its corporate cousins, the Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia, it's beginning to show its age. The 3.6-liter V6 engine and six-speed automatic are smooth and powerful enough, but at times they work hard in this large SUV, and its 15-mpg overall is paltry. A big plus is the ability to fit adults in the roomy third row. Fit and finish is impressive, and advanced safety systems including forward-collision and lane-departure warning are available.
No matter your tastes, the 5 Series has an engine to satisfy your appetite. In our tests, the turbo six-cylinder in the 535i delivered strong, smooth acceleration, and the eight-speed automatic shifted imperceptibly. At 23-mpg overall, fuel economy is commendable for such a quick and substantial sedan. For the frugal-minded, hybrid and diesel models are available; Autobahn-stormers can opt for the top-level M5 and its 560-hp 4.4-liter turbo V8. The ride is elegant and composed, but the car's vague steering hurts its fun-to-drive quotient. Interior fit and finish is excellent, but some controls are complex.
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2015 BMW 535i
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