by Sean Tucker
Late summer is an excellent time to buy a car, if you're willing to do your research, and this summer is better than most. By this time of year, virtually all car factories are pushing out 2011 models, but many of the outgoing 2010s are sitting unsold.
Dealerships were battered by a terrible August. Sales were much slower than analysts had expected. Showrooms have too many leftover 2010 models. It's a familiar problem in the auto industry, yet one no one expected to be facing again so soon.
When the recession hit, dealers spent most of a year trying to clear a backlog of unsold 2009 models, and automakers scaled back their expectations and their operations to produce fewer new cars for the 2010 model year. For a while, it seemed to have worked, and supply appeared close to matching demand. But with sales slowing yet again, the bottleneck is starting to reform. TrueCar.com estimates that 82.7 percent of the cars sitting in showrooms this month are 2010 models -- even now, well into the 2011 model year.
Those 2010s, though, are not out-of-date cars you should avoid. They're appealing new cars, made cheaper by their abundance. Here are five you might want to consider now, while they're overstocked and selling slowly.
2010 Hyundai Sonata
The all-new 2011 Sonata is grabbing all the headlines with its curvaceous, dynamic look, upscale interior and low price. But it's overshadowing the thousands of 2010 models Hyundai still needs to sell. The 2010 Sonata is a reliable car, and an excellent all-around performer with one of the better warranties in the business. Yet TrueCar.com estimates that the average 2010 Sonata is sitting unsold now for 216 days -- making it the slowest-selling vehicle on the market. It should be easy to negotiate with a Hyundai dealer desperate for you to buy his 2010 Sonata so that he can replace it with the new model.
2010 Toyota Camry
Before Toyota's summer of bad publicity began, the Toyota Camry was enjoying a run of success few models have ever matched. It was the best-selling car in American for nine consecutive years, and well on its way to a tenth, thanks to a comfortable interior, a strong reliability record and a reasonable price. In the aftermath of the publicity mess, the Camry still has all of those virtues to offer -- yet it's one of America's slowest-selling cars today. The average Camry sits in inventory for 208 days.
Roush 540RH 2010 Ford Mustang
Everyone praises the 2011 Mustang; which makes it easy to forget that everyone praised the 2010 Mustang, too. It lacks the 5.0-liter Coyote V8 of the current GT, but shares much of its hardware, and one of the nicest interiors ever to grace a muscle car. It's also available with Ford's SYNC infotainment system, making it one of the most livable muscle cars ever. Yet it's moving slowly. The average 2010 Mustang now sits on a dealership lot for 167 days.
2010 Scion Xd
Budget-minded economy car shoppers have fewer and fewer choices today, as upscale cars keep crashing the compact party. Yet the Scion xD retains a lot of appeal. It's a functional econobox with a proven, reliable drivetrain -- exactly what shoppers on a budget are looking for. Yet this one ads nice touches like a huge list of available features and a back seat with adult-size headroom. The average xD is going unsold for 156 days things month.
2010 Lincoln MKT
The 2010 Lincoln MKT has a great deal to offer, from a powerful twin-turbo Ecoboost enging to an interior so well-appointed it includes a working refridgerator. Yet its styling is distinctive. It either works for you or it doesn't. This year, plenty of Americans have decided it doesn't work for them -- the MKT is now spending 134 days in inventory. That makes it a great negotiating opportunity for those interested in a nice new entry-level luxury SUV without breaking the bank.