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Honda and Toyota, hoping to make up for lost sales earlier in the year, are putting unusual amounts of promotional money behind new-car discounts, finance and lease deals. The end result: Buyers can get some of the best deals of the year.

Both automakers suffered greatly after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in March, when tight inventories meant a sharp drop in sales. Even in September, the first month of return to full production, sales were 17% lower for Toyota and 8% lower for Honda than a year earlier.

Now, so-called incentive spending — for all sales promotions — is up nearly 18% for Honda in October and nearly 13% for Toyota over a year earlier, according to estimate by auto pricing site TrueCar.com. Although the roughly $2,380 per vehicle for both companies is less than incentive spending by Detroit companies, it’s unusually high by the Toyota and Honda’s past standards.

Here’s a look at a few of the best deals. Data provided by TrueCar.

Honda Civic

The 2012 Civic (at right), introduced earlier this year, was downgraded from the previous model by Consumer Reports, but defended by other reviewers. If you’re a Civic fan, leasing looks especially interesting, with a three-year deal at $189 a month and $1,999 due at signing. For buyers with good credit, financing is available at 0.9% interest for up to 36 months.

TrueCar shows dealers offering the Civic DX sedan for as low as $15,499, or $1,076 below the $16,575 sticker price.

Honda Odyssey

The Odyssey, redesigned for this 2011 model, keeps its title as the best-driving minivan. For those who like to lease, Honda is offering a three-year, $360-a-month deal with nothing down at signing.

Financing deals for the Odyssey (at left) are for 0.9% up to 36 months. TrueCar shows the Odyssey selling as low as $26, 750 — 7% below the sticker price of $28,885.

Toyota Prius

Both new and used car prices spiked for the Japanese-made Prius after the spring disaster. Now inventories are increasing, and Toyota is offering a $500 rebate on the 2011 Prius (at right).

Some buyers still are paying full sticker price for the MPG champ, but TrueCar shows dealers on both coasts and the Midwest selling the Prius in the Two versions (they are numbered one through four) for around $23,000, or about 5% below the $24,280 sticker price. For leasers, Toyota is offering a $279-a-month deal for 36 months with $1,999 due at signing.

Toyota Avalon

If you are interested in what reviewers describe as a roomy and comfortable highway cruiser, Toyota’s deals are especially good. The automaker is offering customer rebates of up to $1,500 or, if you qualify, 0% financing for up to 36 months.

TrueCar shows the Avalon selling for an average of $31,120, about 8% below the $33,955 sticker price. For leasers, Toyota is offering a three-year, $309-a-month deal with $2,999 due at signing.

If you are a buyer who sticks with Detroit brands, of course there are plenty of good deals from General Motors, Ford and Chrysler out there too. As we move toward the end of the year, discounts should remain big, especially for 2011 models.

Photos courtesy of the manufacturers


Jerry Edgerton, author of Car Shopping Made Easy, has been covering the car beat since Detroit companies dominated the U.S. market. The former car columnist for Money magazine and Washington correspondent for Business Week, Edgerton specializes in finding the best deals on wheels and offering advice on making your car last.