Yes, we know gasoline prices are lower than they were at this time last year, and last year they were cheaper than the year before. We also know that's why more car buyers have been gravitating towards trucks and SUVs lately.
But remember the law of supply and demand – when demand goes up, usually the price does too. At the very least, when buying a car that is in demand, you'll find you have less negotiating room.
That's why a savvy car buyer might take a close look at a small, fuel efficient model. It was selling at a premium three years ago when gasoline was $3.25 a gallon. Now, these compacts and hybrids are going begging and that means you can probably strike a pretty sweet deal.
In May, carmakers have rolled out a number of attractive deals on both leases and purchases. We're focusing on three small cars that get great gas mileage.
Back when gasoline was selling for nearly $4 a gallon, buyers had to pay a premium just for the privilege of buying a Toyota Prius. Now, the hybrid seems out of favor, as buyers are more enamored with larger cars that use more gasoline.
According to Truecar, consumers in the Chicago area can purchase a 2016 Toyota Prius for about $24,000 at area dealers, getting about 50 miles per gallon. To sweeten the deal, this month Toyota is offering 0% financing for 60 months to qualified buyers. As an alternative, buyers paying cash or using their own financing can get $1000 cash back.
Either way, buyers can drive the car for 90 days before making their first payment and the cars come with a two-year no cost maintenance plan.
If you prefer to lease, Toyota is offering a three year, 36,000 mile lease on the Prius for $219 a month, with $2,599 due at signing.
The 2016 Hyundai Elantra is a lot of car for the money. Edmunds.com says it has generous features for its price range, including a large trunk, quiet ride, and one of the longest warranties in the industry. The standard 1.8 liter four-cylinder engine delivers 27/37 MPG.
In May you can purchase the base SE model for around $19,000 and the value edition, with more options, for under $21,000.
The manufacturer's lease deal starts at $169 a month for 36 months and $1,399 due at signing. For those who want to purchase, the company offers 0% financing for up to 72 months and $1,750 bonus cash for qualified buyers.
The Honda Civic is one of the best selling compacts on the road, and in May, Honda has an assortment of deals on the Civic LX, with a purchase price starting at $18,640.
The LX has a 158-HP, 2.0-liter four-Cylinder Engine; electric parking break with automatic brake hold; multi-angle rearview camera; five-inch color LCD screen; and Bluetooth HandsFreeLink and streaming audio.
The LX boasts fuel economy up to 41 MPG highway.