PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- Oh, so you think you're a skilled car shopper because you're waiting until Presidents Day to go buy a new vehicle? Good luck reliving Black Friday.There's no consensus on the best time to buy a car, but it's definitely not during a holiday sale that everyone near a television, radio or local news site knows about. Some experts, including those at Lifehacker, argue that the best time to get out there is in September and October, when the new models are just coming in and dealers are in a rush to get old models off the floors and lots. The folks at AOL Cars were of the belief that the best time to buy was last month, when dealers needed to make end-of-year sales quotas and were willing to offer rebates and discounts as high as 30%. The numbers seem to back that up, as auto sales increased 9% in December and helped automakers sell 14.5 million cars last year, up 13.4% from 2011. The truth is; Any time the weather takes a turn for the gray, miserable worst and the dealerships are empty is the best time to make a deal. That's especially true from now until about mid-February, when the first income tax refunds start trickling in and everybody starts heading to the lots flush with cash. There are deals out there for folks in the northern states willing to brave some of the bleakest weeks on the calendar. We consulted with the folks at auto pricing site TrueCar and found five vehicles worth checking out this winter:
2012 Nissan Maxima 4-door V6MSRP: $35,900
Average selling price: $30,442
Savings: 15% This American-assembled sedan from Smyrna, Tenn., hasn't had an overhaul in half a decade and looks like it. Nissan tried to give it a facelift for 2012 by adding alloy wheels, a new grille and some flashier taillights, but it's basically a light luxury car that's losing ground to updated models such as the Buick Regal and Toyota ( TM) Avalon. The car-buying public has had a hard time stifling the yawns as Maxima sales sank 18% last month and just eked out a 1% increase for 2012. If that doesn't exactly energize potential buyers, perhaps they'd be more comfortable knowing that 2013 Maxima buyers are getting basically the same vehicle and shelling out far more for it. It's a muted victory for a similarly beige vehicle.
2012 Ford (F) Flex All-Wheel Drive w/EcoBoostMSRP: $44,425
Average selling price: $37,937
Savings: 14.6% The giant, boxy Mini Cooper clone continues to get no love from consumers who favor less funky-looking utility vehicles. Its sales dropped by nearly a quarter after Ford revamped the Explorer SUV, but the Flex's room for seven, 44 inches of legroom in the second row and a power folding mechanisms for getting into the third row make it easy to transport a large crew or throw some gear in the back and take a long trip. Options such as sliding second-row captain's seats, Microsoft ( MSFT) Sync phone, entertainment and navigation systems in its MyFord Touch screen, DVD entertainment center for the back, a multipanel sunroof and second-row fridge console for road sodas compensate somewhat for its very non-Eco combined 19.2 miles per gallon. Consumers are passing on the Flex because it looks weird, but that standout frame and spacious 80 cubic feet of cargo room have a lot to offer buyers looking for something beyond the standard SUV or crossover.
2013 Chrysler 200 SedanMSRP: $44,425
Average selling price: $37,937
Savings: 14.6% The Chrysler Sebring was nobody's first choice for a convertible or semi-luxury sedan and was the car least likely to receive Eminem's Detroit seal of approval. The name change to the 200 not only brought back a semblance of respect to the affordable convertible, but boosted sales. The 125,476 sold last year were not only a vast improvement over the 38,000 Sebrings sold in 2010, but the most the Sebring/200 line had sold in more than half a decade. The Lose Yourself commercial with Em and the choir paid off, but anything would have been a step up from the so-so Sebring.
2013 Chevrolet Silverado two-wheel drive extended cab work truckMSRP: $28,610
Average selling price: $24,683
Savings: 13.7% The second-best-selling vehicle in America behind the Ford F-Series usually doesn't need to beg for buyers, but General Motors ( GM) finds itself in a bit of a predicament. Last month, it announced that the Silverado and the Sierra are getting an overhaul for the first time since 2006. While that's great for the 2014 editions and their increased towing capacity and fuel efficiency, it's not so great for the weaker, gas-thirsty 2013 models. Back in December, GM had a 140-day supply of pickups in its lots, which is far beyond the two-month supply automakers consider healthy. Car buyers have been waiting on the updated models and slowing Silverado's sales growth to a paltry 0.8% last year. That lags well behind the 10% increase for the competing F-Series and is even more troubling considering the 20% surge in Dodge Ram sales last year. If you're one of the last Chevy truck buyers in the U.S. not holding out for the new Silverado, now may be a great time to go for a 2013.
2013 Kia Forte EXMSRP: $18,350
Average selling price: $16,256
Savings: 11.4% Kia and Hyundai usually don't do deals, but they're not above discounting cars when necessary. Their cars are selling for 5.2% more than they were at this time last year. Their average incentives, meanwhile, jumped 25.5% from December 2011 to last month. Even with that boost, incentives reached just about $1,600 per car, the least generous in the industry. When those companies offer a new Forte with standard MP3 and Sirius-XM ( SIRI) in the audio system, audio control and Bluetooth wireless in the steering wheel, a fuel-efficiency monitor, combined 32 mpg fuel efficiency and nearly 15 cubic feet of cargo room and a 10-year, 100,000-mile warranty at this price, it's worth a look. -- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte. >To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/notteham. >To submit a news tip, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.