Finding the best car deals now

If you are looking for a high-mileage small or midsize car, now is the time to shop. With SUVs having sold strongly so far this year, inventories are higher with cars and thus the discounts bigger, says Eric Lyman, vice president of industry insights for automotive site TrueCar.

Blame it on nasty weather last winter. "People shopping with snow on the ground looked for vehicles appropriate to the weather," says Lyman "and that idea carried on into strong SUV sales during the spring." Thus dealers have more cars than SUVs to clear out now.

The biggest May discount found by TrueCar in its sales data was the 16.4 percent discount for the Ford Fiesta hatchback S at an average national selling price of $12,899. That's an average savings of $2,526 for the small-car Fiesta which has an EPA mileage rating of 29 MPG in city driving and 39 on the highway.

The second-largest discount was for the 2014 Toyota Camry L, at a 10.8 percent discount to an average selling price of $20,733. Lyman points out that Toyota has already shown the more stylish redesigned 2015 Camry at the New York Auto Show and thus is eager to discount the 2014 models--with a $1,000 consumer rebate.

Here's a closer look at the rebates, low-rate financing and lease deals being offered on 2014 small and mid-size cars as cited by U.S. News:

Rebates

Chevrolet Malibu is praised by reviewers for its smooth ride and capable handling and has a mileage rating of 25 MPG in city driving and 36 on the highway. Dealers are offering a $2,500 rebate.

Hyundai Elantra Roomy for a small car in both leg room and cargo space, the Elantra is rated at 27 MPG in city driving and 37 on the highway. This car carries a $1,000 rebate.

Low-rate financing

Volkswagen Passat More fun to drive than many midsize sedans, the Passat is rated at 24 MPG city, 34 highway with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Volkswagen is offering zero percent financing for five years for buyers qualified by their credit rating.

Mazda2 This sprightly subcompact is rated at 29 MPG city, 39 highway. It offers zero percent financing for five years.

Lease deals

Honda Civic Among the most popular small cars, the Civic is rated for 30 MPG city, 39 highway when equipped with the new continuously variable transmission. The lease offer is for $159 per month for 36 months with $1,999 due at signing.

Kia Optima Reviewers praise the Optima as a good value among mid-size sedans, rated at 23 MPG in city driving, 34 on the highway. The lease deal is for $189 per month for 36 months with $1,850 due at signing.

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    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.