To most people, spring means longer days, sunny skies, and flowers in bloom. For us, however, spring also means great deals on outgoing model-year vehicles. While some cars, like the Honda Civic and Mitsubishi Outlander, received enormous changes between the 2015 and 2016 model years, others enjoyed more modest enhancements or were complete holdovers from the year before. It’s these cars — the unchanged models — that we want to find.
Dealerships across the country are expected to sell off their entire inventory, but unless you own a Subaru dealership in Burlington, Vermont, the chances you’re completely out of 2015 models by New Year’s day 2016 are little to none. So by the time spring rolls around, incentives and great deals abound for unsold inventory. We took a look at the data and picked out the cars and trucks to hunt for this spring. Each one of these vehicles has received limited, if any, upgrades for 2016, and all have more than 5,000 units currently on U.S. dealer lots.
In 2015, Ford revolutionized full-size pickups by using aluminium construction on their best-selling F-150. If you want a good deal on an F-150, there are still plenty of 2015s available. However, the 2016 F-150 also offers Ford’s Pro Trailer Backup Assist, which may be reason enough to opt for that newer model year. Instead, we’d suggest keeping an eye out for a 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 1500. Like the F-150, the Silverado is a capable full-size pickup that’ll do whatever business you need to get done. On top of that, 2016 didn’t usher in any major changes to the Silverado (beyond some aesthetics), so the great deals available on 2015 won’t leave you suffering buyer’s remorse when a brand new 2016 rolls down the street.
The Honda CR-V has been the best-selling SUV for the past 10 years now, with good reason. But with such high demand, Honda has to supply dealerships with as many CR-Vs as it can, which often means outgoing new models stay on dealer lots a bit longer into the year. So that means you can still grab a new 2015 CR-V for a decreased premium, rather than opting for the incoming 2016 CR-V. The CR-V received a substantial makeover in 2015, so there’s not much to expect in changes for the 2016 model. You can still expect the same exterior design, the same 185-hp 2.4-liter inline 4-cylinder engine, the same 27 mpg city/34 highway fuel efficiency, and many of the same interior bells, whistles, and comfort features of a modern crossover.
Full-size family cars are a lot harder to find on American roads these days than the crossover SUVs that have been replacing them since the 1990s. But if you need a full-size sedan, the 2015 Chevrolet Impala is a strong example of what has become a dying breed. Chris Wardlaw questions the Impala’s cost-effectiveness and whether it has room for more than four passengers, but finds it more enjoyable to drive than he expected with the V6 and loves its steering and available OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi connection. The Impala’s size does have its advantages, like a giant trunk that offers substantially more room than any midsize sedan could; but it has weaknesses, too, such as an EPA-estimated 18 mpg city/29 highway. The 2016 Impala offers a new Midnight Edition appearance package and some new exterior colors, and it adds Apple CarPlay to the MyLink infotainment system. That last bit might be worth having, but probably not enough to outweigh the incentives currently offered on 2015s.
The Nissan Murano saw a substantial redesign in 2014, but, to quote Nissan, “for 2016, Murano remains virtually unchanged.” As we’ve mentioned more than a few times, a lack of changes isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as long as the previous model was impressive enough to stand up against the competitor’s year-over-year improvements. In that regard, the Nissan Murano passes with flying colors. From the exterior, which looks like nothing else on the road, to the interior, where zero-gravity seats set a benchmark for comfort, the Nissan Murano is a solid choice for anyone looking to buy a crossover. Considering the lack of changes between the two most recent model years, now is a great time to hunt for a deal on a 2015 Murano.
The Jeep Renegade enters its second year of existence with the production of the 2016 model lineup, but you can still find hundreds of 2015 models on dealer lots. It’s not like Jeep has changed a whole lot with the Renegade after a single year of sales, so it’s safe to say that you don’t have to jump into the very latest iteration of this small SUV. The Renegade strikes a pretty good balance as an economical, practical vehicle that still has plenty of real off-road capability. It’s a slightly better daily driver than the rugged Jeep Wrangler, but has more adventurous capability than its platform-mate, the Fiat 500X. With a base price tag of about $18,000 and a few thousand outgoing new Renegades still available, there’s plenty of opportunity to snag a great off-road-capable, commuter-friendly Jeep for a low price.
Listen, the chances of picking up a 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat with zero miles on the odometer are pretty slim. Those 707-horsepower monsters were brand new for 2015, and demand was (and is) simply too great to expect any unsold holdovers from last year. However, the SRT Hellcat isn’t Dodge’s only fast 4-door (it just happens to be the fastest). There are currently over 10,000 new 2015 Dodge Chargers listed across the nation, but if you’re looking for a big, brash sedan with enough grunt to stay in the left lane, the Charger R/T would be our pick. There are close to 100 new 2015 Charger R/Ts sitting on dealer lots within 500 miles of Boston, and while it might not offer a reality-warping 707 horsepower, the 370 horses and 395 lb-ft of torque on tap from the R/T’s 5.7-liter V8 should be more than enough to keep you entertained.
Minivans seem to be heating up these days, with the HondaVAC in the 2015 Odyssey generating enough positive press that Chrysler put a vacuum in its reborn Pacifica, which will also offer the first hybrid minivan powertrain. Reviewer Liz Kim found the 2015 Toyota Sienna more appealing than the Odyssey, praising its safety improvements, crash-prevention features, and rear-seat entertainment options. The Sienna also has a strong reliability record and remains the only minivan to offer U.S. buyers all-wheel drive. The 2016 Sienna is a carryover with very few changes and a small price increase over the previous year, so even without incentives, a 2015 Sienna will cost less than a 2016. We’re surprised Chrysler beat the maker of the Prius to the punch with a hybrid powertrain, but if that proves popular, maybe the ’17 Sienna lineup will grow to include a hybrid (and a vacuum?).
There has been a ton of press around the new 310-hp performance-oriented Focus RS, but its more mundane counterpart has gone largely unchanged for 2016. Your everyday Ford Focus remains the practical compact hatchback it has been for its 18 years on the road. The Focus hasn’t changed much since its redesign for last year’s model, though Ford has been working on the Focus’ infotainment center, upgrading to Ford’s new Sync 3 system. Other than the tablet in the central dash, you shouldn’t find any reason to skip the 2015 for the incoming 2016 version. And though the Focus RS has been the focus of hot-hatch enthusiasts lately, its less-potent counterpart, the Focus ST, remains virtually the same between 2015 and 2016 models. So, you may be able to scratch your hot-hatch itch a bit for cheaper than you’d expect.
Jeep’s Grand Cherokee has been a cornerstone of the midsize SUV category since its 1993 debut. Combining Jeep’s “Trail Rated” off-road capabilities with a very plush, comfortable highway ride, it’s no surprise the Grand Cherokee has a huge and loyal fanbase. Nicole Wakelin found the 2015 version of the Grand Cherokee a champ, ranging from the base Laredo, with a 3-liter V6 and rear-wheel drive for just under $30k, to the SRT Red Vapor, which gets 475 horsepower delivered to all four wheels by a 6.4-liter Hemi V8 and costs over $68k. The 2016 version didn’t see many substantial changes beyond the addition of adjustable driving modes for SRT versions and a pair of special-edition 75th Anniversary trims. We’re sure an SRT would be a hoot on a track, but we’d take a 2015 with the smaller V8 or the EcoDiesel and pricing incentives over the 2016.
The 2015 Ford Mustang marked the original pony car’s 50th anniversary, as well as some huge changes, including an independent rear suspension, a turbocharged 4-cylinder EcoBoost engine offering 310 hp and just over 30 mpg on the highway, and a great new manual transmission. Other than the new track-ready Shelby GT350, which we consider a separate model, most changes for the 2016 Mustang are visual, including the addition of turn-signal indicators to GT hood vents, a new California Package, and available racing stripes. Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system is a significant improvement over the MyFord Touch system in 2015s, but probably the most important change for muscle-car fans in 2016 is the arrival of the slightly smaller, lighter 2016 Camaro, which will get revised engines, including a new turbo four, and improved handling. If those changes put the 2016 Camaro ahead of the Mustang, we bet the 2017 Mustang will offer more go-fast changes than the 2016 does.
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–John Harrington, Matt Smith, and Steve Halloran
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