Big Discounts on New Cars: Honda and Toyota Finally Ready to Wheel and Deal

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Most automakers experienced decent, if not strong, sales growth over the past year. Among the few car companies suffering from a sales slump are the two Japanese auto manufacturers normally known for both their reliability and reliable sales figures: Honda and Toyota. To boost small sales numbers, the two automakers are now rolling out some of biggest incentives and discounts ever to woo would-be buyers.

Through the first three quarters of 2011, sales have been on the rise for the vast majority of automakers. According to Edmunds, Volkswagen, Buick, Kia, Mitsubishi, Jeep, Saab, Porsche, GMC, Volco, and MINI have all experienced sales growth in the U.S. of at least 20% compared to the year before.

Only eight of the 33 automakers tracked by Edmunds saw a sales decline over this time span. Toyota and Honda are among these eight, as are their respective upscale sister brands, Lexus and Acura. The Japan tsunami significantly hampered Toyota and Honda sales efforts. Not only was production slowed, but because dealerships had such limited supply, they didn’t bother offering good incentives to attract buyers.

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Now, though, as dealership inventories rebound, and as the reality of the awful year of sales thus far sets in, Toyota and Honda are seriously motivated sellers. USA Today reports that in September, Honda offered an average of $2,350 off MSRP on new vehicles. That’s the automaker’s biggest-ever sales incentive, representing a 6.8% boost from September 2010. Toyota averaged incentives of $2,250 last month, up 7.1% from the year before.

Many American automakers are actually offering larger incentives, but they’re not quite as substantial as they were a year ago. Ford, for example, averaged $2,850 off MSRP last month—but that’s 6.6% less than the average discount of September 2010.

What this all means is that it’s one of the best times in recent memory for bargain hunters interested in a Honda or Toyota. The two Japanese automakers have been left reeling after first suffering through a natural disaster and its lingering aftereffects, and then by facing a set of consumers who have been exposed to other products on the market—and who like what they see. Per USA Today:

Customers discovered “the product from the competition is not that bad after all,” says Jesse Toprak, a TrueCar.com vice president. In the past, Toyota and Honda buyers remained loyal. Now they are willing to shop around.

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This upcoming weekend just so happens to be a terrific time to shop around, says TrueCar. After punching the numbers, the auto specialist site estimates that, specifically, this Saturday is the best day of the month to find a deal. And because October is considered by some as the best month to buy a car, this Saturday is arguably one of the best days in the whole year to snag a bargain. TrueCar reports that it

… has found the best new car deals on vehicles including cash, finance and lease deals available nationwide, and is forecasting that Saturday, October 29th will be the best day of the month to purchase a vehicle with an average discount of 9.24 percent, according to data from its October TrueTrends Report. The cash deals reflect the possible discount from the Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) and include manufacturer’s rebates and other incentives.

The deals are expected to be good for Hondas and Toyotas, as well as Fords, Jeeps, Chevrolets, Chryslers, Nissans, and pretty much every other make on the market today.

Brad Tuttle is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @bradrtuttle. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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