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Smart Car Shopping: Great Car Deals This Week

If you're going out car shopping this weekend, you should know that automakers aren't discounting cars the way they did just a few months ago.

As Toyota fought to recover its reputation amidst allegations of unintended acceleration in the spring, it launched a round of heavy discounts.  That kicked off a price war.  Historically, heavy discounts have been rare from Japanese automakers, and the domestic brands weren't going to let themselves get undercut this summer.

But the price cuts have started to fade, as automakers have sold off overstocks of inventory.  The market you're entering this weekend isn't the worst we've seen, but you're going to have to work a little harder to find a great deal.

They're still out there.  Ford, for instance, is offering combinations of low-rate financing and cash-back rebates in July.  With most automakers, you can have one but not both.  Mazda is going even further, waiving payments on some models for the first three months.  And Toyota continues to offer incentives that we would have found unusual a year ago.

But the good deals are more rare now.  You have to know where to look.  A few of your best new-car deals for this month could include:

2010 Mazda3

2010 Mazda3

Enlarge Photo

2010 Mazda3

Mazda goes all-out this month.  The 3 is one of several models offered with interest-free financing for up to 60 months PLUS a $500 cash-back rebate PLUS no payments for the first 90 days.  For a fun-to-drive little whippet like the Mazda3, that's quite a deal.  This is one of our favorite small cars at full price.

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