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Smart Car Shopping: Six Great Deals This Week

Car dealers expected August to look bad. When financial analysts measure the health of the auto industry, they traditionally compare monthly sales figures to the same month in the previous year -- and last August had been the high point of the Cash for Clunkers craze. So when automakers said their sales had dropped versus last August, no one was surprised.

But when they filtered out the Cash for Clunkers boost, it still didn't look good.  It isn't as bad as last summer, and no one is headed for bankruptcy, but the ugly truth is that automakers had still expected to sell more cars this summer than they did.

They've got a bit of a backlog to clear out.

That's great news for you, though.  Incentives are getting good again.  The major carmakers had planned to pull back on heavy discounts this summer, but they're heading into September with some enticing offers on the table.

Here are six of the best (As always, ask at your local dealership, as some dealerships might opt out of incentives and special rates):

2009 MINI Cooper Convertible

2009 MINI Cooper Convertible

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Mini Cooper Convertible -- 0% APR financing for up to 60 months

Is there anything more fun to drive?  As automotive journalists, we drive most of the cars you see on the road sooner or later, and a large cadre of us will tell you that this is about as good as it gets.  Zippy acceleration, go-kart handling (yeah, it's a line they use in commercials...they're right), and wind-in-your-hair, topless fun -- the Mini Copper Convertible has it all.  If you're ever thought of buying one, and you skip this chance, then face it -- you're never going to buy one.

All Eyes On The Cube

All Eyes On The Cube

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Nissan Cube -- 0% APR financing for up to 36 months

The Nissan Cube is quirky, with more personality than most cars could ever hope to have.  Heck, the roofliner is rippled to look like a pond struck by a raindrop, and so are the rubber liners of the cupholders.  But it's also practical, with reasonable fuel economy and a boxy shape that makes it a useful hauler.  It's cheap to begin with (sub-$14k cheap in some cases), and cheaper this month thanks to this interest-free financing offer.  A bonus: says it is currently easier to negotiate a great price on the Cube than almost any other car in America.

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