New Cars: 5 of the Best Holiday Deals

Last Updated Dec 20, 2010 6:35 PM EST

'Tis the season for door-buster deals, one-day only sales and unlimited free shipping. So why not a great holiday deal on a new car? If you are among those rare people who can stop celebrating long enough to focus on a major purchase in December, Kelley Blue Book has some deals for you.

The staff at have picked the best year-end car deals, most of them involving low-payment leases. "The end of the year is a great time to buy a car with dealers ready to clear out their current inventory and close the books on the year," says Jack Nerad, executive editor and market analyst for "Automakers sweeten the pot even more with loads of incentives and great holiday deals for new-car shoppers."

From the Kelley list, I picked five vehicles that I especially like. Here's a closer look at the cars and the deals:

Buick Regal As part of General Motors' program to make over the Buick image away from cars for blue-haired oldsters, the sporty Regal is a big step. Reviewers praise its crisp handling as making it a worthy competitor to luxury sedans like Audi A4 and Acura TSX at a much lower price and with gas mileage of 19 mpg city, 30 highway. Starting at $26,245, the Regal offers a $1,000 customer rebate or 0% financing if you qualify. But the deal the Kelley analysts like most is the lease: $291 per month for 39 months with no down payment.

Chevrolet Cruze The Cruze, which went on sale only recently, is based on a GM car already popular in Europe. As a new competitor in the small-car segment, the Cruze is taking aim at leaders Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic. It offers an unusual amount of features for this class, with prices ranging from $16,275 up to $22,639 as options are added. Reviewers give it high marks for interior space and comfort and its mileage of 28 city mpg, 42 highway. If you want to buy the Cruze, 2.9% financing is available. The lease deal features tantalizing $159 per month payments for 39 months, although you do have to put down $1,899 at signing.

Ford Fusion Fusion has been a big part of Ford's very successful 2010. Its redesigned version put Ford into serious competition with perennial midsize sedan leaders Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. Reviewers praise its styling as well as its upscale, comfortable interior. With three different engine options, the Fusion ranges from $19,720 to $28,645 for a loaded model. The base four-cylinder engine is rated at 22 mpg city, 32 highway. Fusion isn't offering a lease deal, but buyers with good credit can get 0%, 60-month financing.

Honda Odyssey Honda's newly redesigned model retains its title of best-driving minivan. With plenty of safety gear, a high-end entertainment system and mileage rated at 19 mpg city, 28 highway, the Odyssey should suit most road-tripping families. (See Minivans: New 2011 Honda Odyssey Test Drive ). But the price range of $27,800 to $43,250 is high among minivans. So if you crave an Odyssey, you might check out the promotional lease deal of $360 per month for 35 months with no down payment. Kelley analysts commented that it is unusual to find such a good deal on a newly redesigned popular model.

Hyundai Sonata Like Ford, Hyundai has enjoyed a surging year in sales. And its mid-size sedan, the redesigned Sonata, has led the way. Reviewers praise Sonata's combination of high style and high gas mileage: 24 mpg in the city, 35 on the highway. Hyundai also offers one of the best warranties available -- 10-year coverage on the power train. Hyundai is offering a $500 rebate and 2.9% financing. If you would like to lease, the deal is for $199 per month for 36 months with $2,399 due at signing.

For most people, shopping for a car while shopping for the holidays is too much. But if you are a financial multi-tasker, you may find some of the best deals of the year.

Photos courtesy of the manufacturers

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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.