The end of the calendar year has long been considered one of the best times to buy or lease a new car. As the new model year vehicles roll in, dealerships are motivated to sell the outgoing models and make sure they hit their year-end sales goals. These factors can add up to some of the best savings of the year. In fact, Edmunds data shows that December tends to have the largest discount from MSRP of any month. November comes close, but December slightly edges past it.
But what good is a deal if you can't find it? Who hasn't been swept up in the enthusiasm of a great sale, only to realize that the item is sold out?
With that in mind, we've looked at the remaining inventory of 2016 models and have compiled a list of recommended vehicles for new car shopping deals. These are solid picks that you're likely to find still on hand at the dealer, and get an even greater deal before the year ends. Click on each model to see the best deals in your area.
2016 Ford Focus
Edmunds says: You'll find the Focus to be one of the more engaging cars in the compact car class, with nimble handling that doesn't come at the expense of ride comfort. The Focus additionally boasts a sharp-looking interior that can be loaded up with the latest technology. This is especially true for 2016, as Ford has fitted the Focus with its all-new Sync 3 touchscreen interface, which promises quicker responses and easier operation than the discontinued MyFord Touch system. Starting MSRP: $18,100.
2016 Nissan Altima
Edmunds says: Nissan has done well historically with continuously variable transmissions (CVT) and the 2016 Altima continues that tradition. Nissan's CVT is more responsive when you press on the gas pedal compared to its competitors, and the simulated stepped gears reduce some of the engine drone that others suffer from. Sporty handling isn't a priority for most family sedan buyers, obviously, so for the majority of drivers the Altima will be adequate, though not impressive. Starting MSRP: $23,335.
2016 Chevrolet Malibu
Edmunds says: Seat comfort is a strong point in the 2016 Malibu. The power driver seat (we haven't tested the manual version) slides back farther than the Honda Accord's, making this Chevy a strong pick for long-legged shoppers, and all front-row riders will likely find support and cushioning to be satisfactory. In back, the Malibu's newly elongated wheelbase opens up enough legroom to challenge rivals including the Ford Fusion, though in our experience, the Accord and Hyundai Sonata offer even more. Still, the Malibu is now competitive in terms of backseat space, and that addresses a major complaint about the previous-generation car. Starting MSRP: $22,500.
2016 Toyota Highlander
Edmunds says: The Highlander stands out by virtue of its spacious and comfortable cabin. Second-row seating is a choice of three-across bench seating or two captain's chairs with a side table. The refined V6 and smooth six-speed automatic transmission deliver effortless acceleration making the Highlander one of the quickest big crossovers around. There are also plenty of contemporary tech tools and smartphone-integrated services, anchored by an 8-inch high-resolution touchscreen display in the higher trim levels. Starting MSRP: $30,490.
2016 Ford Edge
Edmunds says: Despite its midsize footprint and generous passenger and cargo room, the Edge feels tidy and maneuverable on the road. That's due in no small part to the improvements Ford made to the body structure and suspension when it fully redesigned the Edge in 2015. The result is a crossover that exceeds two tons but manages to drive more like a tall sedan. Throw in the all-wheel-drive Edge Sport's turbocharged V6 and you've got a seriously speedy crossover that can challenge some luxury brand models. Starting MSRP: $29,595.
2016 Honda CR-V
Edmunds says: Everyday usability is the driving force behind the CR-V's interior design. The wide doors allow for easy ingress and egress, and head- and legroom are ample for front and outboard rear passengers. A passenger sitting in the rear middle seat will also appreciate the lack of a protruding transmission tunnel that would otherwise necessitate an uncomfortable seating position. Farther back, the CR-V's cargo area is vast, with 37.2 cubic feet of space ready to swallow just about anything you want to throw back there. Pull the trunk-mounted levers and the spring-loaded rear seats fold down immediately, nearly doubling the CR-V's cargo capacity. Starting MSRP: $24,645.
2016 BMW 5 Series
Edmunds says: The current-generation 5 Series is a little different from those hallowed models that came before it. It's a big, comfy and impeccably refined midsize sedan with an emphasis on luxury rather than sport. It doesn't provide the expected degree of handling precision and engagement that driving enthusiasts might want, but it does have a spacious cabin fitted with top-notch materials and a huge number of available comfort, convenience and high-tech features. Starting MSRP: $51,195.
2016 Mercedes C-Class
Edmunds says: The updated 2016 C-Class carries over all of the strengths of the redesigned 2015 model, including added rear legroom and eye-catching styling inside and out, as well as an optional air suspension that's unique in the compact luxury car segment. Furthermore, the advanced safety technology that has become a modern Mercedes hallmark is fully present here, such as standard automatic emergency braking, a rare inclusion in this price range. With its luxurious interior, advanced powertrains and high-tech safety and driver assistance features, the 2016 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is one of the best small luxury sedans you can buy. Starting MSRP: $38,950.
2016 Buick Verano
Edmunds says: The 2016 Buick Verano presents an upscale yet reserved exterior, a well-crafted interior and a substantial list of standard and optional luxury and high-tech features. With the Buick Verano, GM has done a nice job of providing an entry-level luxury compact sedan that won't get you laughed out of the executive lunchroom or relegated to the back rows of the country club parking lot. Starting MSRP: $21,990.
2016 Dodge Challenger
Edmunds says: While the muscle car styling and menu of powerful engines are of obvious appeal, you might not realize how practical the Challenger can be. Adults can fit in the backseat. It has a trunk equivalent to that of a full-size sedan. The ride quality is comfortable. The features list is packed full of comfort, convenience, entertainment and high-tech safety items. Even the V6 gets decent fuel economy. The Challenger is a car that will please whether you're taking the kids to school, driving across the country, or participating in a burnout contest. Starting MSRP: $27,990.
2016 Chevrolet Colorado
Edmunds says: With its refined demeanor and feature-laden interior, the 2016 Chevrolet Colorado is a very appealing option for a midsize pickup or an alternative to a full-size truck. Midsize rivals surpass it off-road, but the Colorado's new diesel engine is a game-changer. The other notable update to the 2016 Colorado is the arrival of Apple CarPlay smartphone integration in trucks equipped with the available 8-inch MyLink touchscreen interface. This should make the Colorado that much more appealing for buyers who crave uninterrupted connectivity. Starting MSRP: $20,995.
2016 Acura TLX
Edmunds says: The TLX is a well-rounded, nicely furnished sedan for the money, and unlikely to let you down over the long haul. Comparably equipped European rivals carry significantly higher price tags, and they also tend to depreciate more quickly and cost more to repair when the warranty expires. In other words, the TLX is arguably a smart choice, and being smart in the midsize luxury sedan segment can save you a lot of money, both now and in the future. Plus, it has one of the best-sounding stereos around. If that's your kind of luxury sedan, the 2016 Acura TLX could be your next car. Starting MSRP: $32,635.
Not a fan of our picks, but still want a great deal? Here's a list of automakers with the most and fewest available 2016 models. This should help you plan out what dealerships to visit over the holidays.