BE’s Top 20 Month-End Auto Deals

Today’s gas prices have almost tripled since 2001, when automakers delivered 631,632 full-size SUVs. And as consumers continue to shift toward smaller Cross Utility Vehicles, manufacturers are discounting SUVs to encourage sales.

Despite this shift, there still seems to be a case for automakers to build full-size SUVs. Contrary to popular belief, automakers managed to sell close to half a million of the truck-based, full-size SUVs last year, despite the gas prices. (Luxury full-size SUVs were excluded from our analysis.)

While sales of the full-size SUV segment decreased by 24% from 2001, automakers continued to move the boat-towing people haulers with an average of $3,900 in incentives in 2007, according to Power Information Network. Realizing that there is a market for these vehicles, Toyota recently launched the 2008 second-generation Sequoia, which is based on the Tundra platform.

Adding to the SUV full-size momentum, GM just introduced the world’s first hybrid-based full-size SUVs GMC Yukon and Chevy Tahoe. Can you imagine driving a large SUV that delivers respectable gas mileage? If this sounds oxymoronic, think again. According to the U. S. Department of Energy, a nonhybrid Tahoe is expected to use 21.4 barrels of fuel per year, while a hybrid Tahoe will use only16.3 barrels, saving consumers approximately $666 annually. Chrysler L.L.C. and American Honda Motor Co. are the only two major automakers not playing in this segment. Dodge last offered a Ramcharger in this segment in 1993.

Seeing no end in sight to the instability of the gas prices, expect automakers to offer great deals in this segment throughout the year. CarMax, which has a strict no-haggling negotiation policy, is offering approximately a $4,000 discount off of every Sequoia this month. As of now, there isnít a consumer rebate being offered on the recently redesigned Toyota.

And who says waiting until the end of the month isnít the best time to buy? GM recently added a $1,000 bonus on Feb. 14 in honor of Presidents Day , bringing the total rebate to $3,000 on every Suburban, Tahoe, and Yukon. Not to be outdone, Nissan and Ford are providing below market interest rates along with the highest customer rebates in this segment.

The Tahoe also qualifies for the IRS hybrid tax credit, helping to offset the $50,490 MSRP. Furthermore, small-business owners buying a hybrid, nonhybrid Tahoe, or another vehicle in this segment qualify for a one-time $25,000 tax deduction plus the standard 20% tax deduction. SUVs and light-duty trucks with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of 6,000 or more are eligible for this IRS deduction. Consumers should consult their tax adviser for more details.

For car buyers shopping for something other than a full-size SUV, BLACK ENTERPRISE has compiled our top 20 month-end deals. Sports coupes and convertibles continue to make up close to half of the vehicles on our list as consumers navigate severe winter weather in 4x4s. For instance, Mitsubishi increased the rebate on the Eclipse by$500 this month, bringing the total rebate up to $1,500. Additionally, consumers in need of a midsize SUV or midsize