5 Best Presidents Day Car Discounts

PORTLAND, Ore. ( TheStreet) -- This is a terrible time to buy a car, unless you're willing to subject yourself to the automotive Black Friday that is February.

It's not that Presidents Day is such an overwhelmingly great time to buy a car, but it's the best time during an especially bleak period. The folks 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.

If you missed that, the folks at AOL Cars were of the belief that the best time to buy was in December, when dealers needed to make end-of-year sales quotas and were willing to offer rebates and discounts as high as 30%. The numbers supported it, as auto sales increased 9% in December and helped automakers sell 14.5 million cars in 2012, up 13.4% from 2011.

It still holds true that any time the weather gets gray and wet and dealerships and lots empty out is the best time to make a deal. That's not going to be true for much longer, though, as income tax rebates are trickling in and dealers will be in no mood to trim prices.

If you're hell-bent on braving the crowds for Presidents Day sales -- especially to pick up an SUV before the winter subsides -- there are still a few relative bargains out there. We consulted with the folks at auto pricing site TrueCar and found five vehicles worth spending a few thousand Washingtons and Lincolns on:

2013 Subaru Forester 2.5X Limited
MSRP: $27,790
Average selling price: $25,973
Savings: 6.5%

That savings looks like a cost-of-living increase compared with most manufacturer discounts, but you have to understand that this is Subaru. They don't do sales, they don't do discounts and they certainly wouldn't deign to break out the streamers and bunting for Presidents Day.

That's especially true of the Forester crossover SUV. A 10-year-old Forester still has more than 25% of its original value. Even though the newer models lack the boxy wagon look of their predecessors, they're still the all-wheel-drive vehicle of choice for Bohemian Bourgeois parents trying to balance shuttle runs to lacrosse practice with trips to Whole Foods ( WFM) or Trader Joe's. Those combined 24 miles per gallon aren't great and its interior features are starting to lag behind the Honda ( HMC) CR-V and (gasp!) Ford ( F) Escape, Subaru's added Bluetooth connectivity to all its models and beefed up the options on its pricier trims.

The Limited, for example, comes with rear privacy glass, roof rails, a panoramic sunroof, an eight-way power driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a reclining rear seat, heated front seats, heated mirrors, a windshield wiper de-icer, fog lamps and a touchscreen audio system. Throw in automatic climate control, leather upholstery, a tray for its 68.3-cubic-foot cargo area, a rearview camera and a six-speaker sound system with Apple ( AAPL) iTunes tagging capability, and you're looking at the pride of the prep school parking lot.

2013 GMC Yukon Denali Hybrid
MSRP: $62,380
Average selling price: $57,658
Savings: 7.6%

It says "hybrid" right in the name, but that 21.5 miles per gallon fuel efficiency can't be right, can it?

Absolutely it can. This General Motors ( GM) beast's hybrid engine isn't there to make the Yukon Denali a fuel sipper. It exists solely to minimize the damage wrought by its 6.0-liter V8 engine. Nobody's coming to this party to hug trees. They're here for the eight-passenger capacity, four-wheel drive, navigation, Bluetooth, satellite radio, 6,000-pound towing capacity and 109 cubic feet of maximum cargo space.

Still, the hybrid version only gets drivers a scant 5 mpg more than they'd get in a regular Yukon while charging nearly $20,000 more for the privilege. This boat and its sister, the Chevy Tahoe, have a fairly limited market to begin with, but it's likely going to take more than an 8% discount to woo new fans.

2013 Volvo XC90
MSRP: $42,595
Average selling price: $39,302
Savings: 7.7%

Yet another luxury SUV not even trying to break a combined 20 miles per gallon.

This 19 mpg guzzler is part of the XC60-XC90 family of hulking crossovers that replaced beloved Volvo wagons such as the V50 and V70 back in 2011. Volvo's rush to get bigger and brawnier didn't get the full push it deserved, however, and the XC90 ended up with fewer safety features than other Volvo models and less interior space than the competing Ford Flex and Buick Enclave. Oh, and there's the small matter of that pokey fuel economy.

So what do you get for your 8% discount? Fog lamps, heated mirrors, headlight washers, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a sunroof, roof rails, rear privacy glass, rear parking sensors and keyless entry. Inside, there's dual-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, leather upholstery, eight-way power front seats with driver-seat memory settings, a fold-flat front passenger seat and 85 cubic feet of cargo room, 40/20/40-split second-row seats with a built-in center child booster seat, a 50/50-split third-row seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface.

2013 Infiniti FX37
MSRP: $47,395
Average selling price: $43,390
Savings: 8.5%

The FX37 is Infiniti's way of bidding farewell to its underpowered FX35 by dropping in a 3.7-liter V6 engine with 325 horsepower.

The good news is that the FX37 has all the brawn and toys buyers would expect from a luxury SUV. The bad news is that parent company Honda sacrificed space in its tiny rear seat and its cargo capacity to make that happen. Even with the seats folded down, the FX37 has only 62 cubic feet of cargo space, the smallest capacity on this list.

That said, you're getting a lot if you're not looking to lug around kids or camping equipment. As luxury SUVs go, this one's relatively cheap compared with competitors such as the Porsche Cayenne or BMW X6. For under 50 grand, buyers get automatic xenon headlights, fog lights, a sunroof, power-folding heated outside mirrors, keyless ignition and entry, a power liftgate, leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated eight-way power front seats and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. It's also packed with standard electronics including a back-up camera, Bluetooth and an 11-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system with a six-CD changer, an iPod/USB connection, an auxiliary audio jack and satellite radio.

Even the V6 gets from zero to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds, which should help performance-minded drivers forgive its dreadful 18.8 combined miles per gallon.

2013 Nissan (NSANY) Rogue S
MSRP: $23,455
Average selling price: $21,353
Savings: 9%

Under $25,000 with more than 25 miles per gallon worth of combined fuel efficiency? How did this make the list?

Easily the most fuel-efficient and cost-effective vehicle of the bunch, the five-passenger Rogue crossover with its all-wheel drive and 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is the undercover Forester. Its interior is less plastic than its upmarket competitor and has comfortable seats, a huge center console bin and glove box, an organizer under the floor.

Its features are a bit sparse, as Bluetooth is reduced to an option and items such as keyless entry, folding side mirrors, cruise control, a tilt steering wheel, air-conditioning, full power accessories, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat, a trip computer and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod interface are considered perks. In a mid-market increasingly populated with go-to small SUVs such as the Honda CR-V, Toyota ( TM) RAV4 and Ford Escape, though, the rogue is the all-wheel-drive winter wagon suited for school and shopping but without all the socioeconomic baggage.

-- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore.

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Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Esquire.com, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, the Boston Phoenix, the Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent. He previously served as the political and global affairs editor for Metro U.S., layout editor for Boston Now, assistant news editor for the Herald News of West Paterson, N.J., editor of Go Out! Magazine in Hoboken, N.J., and copy editor and lifestyle editor at the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, N.J.

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