A mere five months after General Motors announced they’d be offering discounts for college students and recent graduates, Toyota has decided to jump on the bandwagon by offering $1,000 rebates to recent college graduates.
But Toyota’s terms are quite a bit more limited than GM’s, which may or may not have anything to do with the General’s searing desperation. Where GM’s college program is open to all college students and anyone who’s graduated in the last two years, Toyota’s is only available to people out of college less than two years, or who are less than six months from graduating.
Toyota also tags on a few more terms in the fine print: you have to show Toyota proof of employment within four months of your purchase, and the suits at Toyota Financial Headquarters have to declare your salary sufficient to cover your car payments and a place to live – so if you were thinking about buying a Sienna and living out of it, tough luck.
In addition, the selection of vehicles that falls under the program is much more limited. If you want the discount, you can only choose from the Yaris, Corolla, Matrix, RAV4, Tacoma, or Camry – and not even the Camry hybrid. GM, by contrast, offers college discount pricing on every new model except the new Camaro, the Corvette ZR1, and the Saturn Vue Hybrid. Want a 556-horsepower Cadillac CTS-V? How about a Corvette convertible? Or a Hummer H2? Yes, any of them can be yours for the wholesale price, so long as you can flash the sheepskin. (Though why you’d want the Hummer is still beyond me.)
However, Toyota’s program does give you some benefits GM doesn’t offer: no down payment, no payments for 90 days, one year of free roadside assistance, and the ability to apply the discount to both new and certified used Toyotas. With GM, you get what you see.
So how do the two programs stack up? Well, let’s do a quick comparison – Toyota Camry versus Chevy Malibu, four-cylinder mid-level models, nothing wild. The Malibu LT1 costs $23,225 retail after destination charges, while the Camry LE goes for $22,400 before discounts. The college degree knocks the Camry down to $21,400, while bringing the Malibu down to $22,421. So it looks like a win for the Camry…
…unless you factor in the $2,500 in potential rebates available on the Malibu that can drop the price to $19,921.
Which one’s a better program? Well, Toyota’s offers more benefits if you’re able to meet their conditions, but their car selection is pretty weak – they don’t even offer Scions in the deal, and the models they are letting grads choose from are all pretty far into their life cycle. Plus, none of them are going to make your drive particularly thrilling.
GM’s terms aren’t quite as good (the discount usually ends up being less than a grand, unless you factor in other offers), but at least they give you some better choices. Sure, you still might not be able to swing a Corvette ZO6, but it might be enough to nudge a Cobalt SS or Pontiac Solstice within your reach.
(You can read all about Toyota’s program at their website.)