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Toyota Announces College Grad Discounts

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.)

Sorry, folks. It's still $103,970.

Sorry, folks. It's still $103,970.

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.)

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GM College Grad Pricing

This doesn’t come under any of the usual headings of this site, but it seems worth mentioning. General Motors is currently offering a discount program on almost every single one of its cars exclusively for college seniors and recent graduates.  

It looks pretty easy: all you do is log onto http://www.gmcollegegrad.com, fill out a few forms, and bam! You’re eligible for what GM calls “supplier pricing,” which sounds an awful lot like “wholesale” to me. The conditions, surprisingly, are few and far-between. All you need is a college diploma from the last two years, a document from your college saying you’re gonna graduate in the next six months, or proof you’re in grad or nursing school. That’s it. That degree can be for anything from an associate’s degree to a Ph.D. 

The only other condition is that you have to hang onto the car for at least six months, presumably so no smart-minded entrepreneur tries to make a profit snatching these things up and turning them over. However, if you buy a Corvette, you’ve got to hang onto it for two years, which makes me think of that line from the 1998 Disney animated film Oliver and Company: “If this is torture, chain me to the wall!”

You know how awesome that movie is? Billy Joel was the voice of the canine Artful Dodger. Damn.

But yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and he’s bringing us the gift of discounted Corvettes. That’s right – Corvettes, Escalades, CTS-Vs, Solstices, every GM car you might have harbored a fantasy about cruising up and down the Sunset Strip in is available for college students to snatch up. The only exception is the new Corvette ZR1, which isn’t really surprising, given its astronomical price tag, Ferrari-fighting performance, and $60,000-a-gallon paint. (Seriously.)

Even more wonderfully, GM is kind enough to let scholars combine these deals with the incentives available on almost every one of their models, usually in the form of cash on the hood. Even better, you can check these incentives on the GM College Grad site, so you can know exactly how much you’re gonna be paying when you walk in. According to their site, only “new and unused” cars are available under the agreement; next thing you know, they’ll be insisting you pay with “real and non-counterfeit” money.

So, in honor of this, I’m ticking off the GM cars I consider worth owning. I’m including both the original MSRP and the price with all discounts taken in; adding options will change it around, so feel free to play around on their site and spec one out yourself.

Buick

Enclave: GM’s new line of large, car-like SUVs offer better handling and marginal fuel savings than their truck-based siblings (i.e. the Suburban), and the Enclave is the best-looking of the otherwise similar bunch. Should you feel the need to buy a SUV for daily driving, the Enclave will do you well. Go for the CX trim level with all-wheel drive. $750 incentive cash, too.

MSRP/Discounted: $37,805/$35,226

Cadillac

CTS/CTS-V: The new CTS is by far Cadillac’s best car, capable of standing up with the best of the segment – BMW 3-series, Infiniti G37, Acura TL, etc. If you’re just going for the base car, make sure you spring for the direct-injection engine that adds around 40 horsepower; whether you go with optional all-wheel-drive or standard rear-wheel-drive depends on how much snow you get and how much you want to spend on snow tires. But if you can go whole hog and get the 556-horsepower CTS-V, DO IT. $2000 incentive on all models.

CTS Direct Injection RWD: $39,180/$35,258

CTS-V: $59,995/$53,884

Escalade Hybrid: Feeling oxymoronic? Want to show the world how environmentally sensitive you are by buying a SUV that gets the same gas mileage as a taxicab? Well, as the ads say, this Bud’s for you. I’m assuming if you buy a truck-based SUV you’re gonna be driving through crappy weather, so get all-wheel-drive. $1000 rebate on all Escalade models.

Escalade Hybrid AWD: $74,465/$70,177

Chevrolet

Cobalt SS: While the regular Cobalt is a pretty pedestrian compact, strapping a 260-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine (among other performance mods) makes one hell of a badass econobox. (Car and Driver managed to blast one form 0 to 60 in 5.5 seconds, on the way to a 156-mph top speed.) Both coupe and sedan cost the same, so even those who need four doors can play. $1500 cash on the hood, by the way.

$24,095/$21,749

Corvette: Do I really need to say more? The base car will make you happier than almost any car in the world, and it only gets better from there.

Coupe 1LT: $49,415/$44,937

Convertible 1LT: $54,070/$49,145

ZO6 1LZ: $74,775/$67,861

HHR: Chevy counts this little PT Cruiser ripoff as a truck, but it’s as much a truck as Michael Jackson is white. (Or sane.) Still, for what it’s worth, this little guy is pretty stylish, roomy, and cheap. It even comes in panel-van versions (for the aspiring band) or in SS trim (for the really cool bands). $1000 incentive on all models.

LS: $19,380/$17,739

LS Panel: $19,690/$18,036

SS: $25,475/$23,567

GMC

Yukon Denali: While this SUV might just seem like a cut-rate version of the Escalade, it’s in fact a steal right off the bat. The Denali packs just about all the Escalade’s features (including the fun 403-hp motor) into a classier-looking package that won’t leave you feeling like Diddy. Plus, that simple badge switch saves you about six grand. $1000 incentive cash.

$53,580/$48,816

Hummer

There is no reason to buy a Hummer. Especially now that the badass original is gone.

Pontiac

G8: Pontiac’s new sedan makes the Bonnevilles and the Grand Prixes of the past two decades seem like a bad dream. Based on an Australian product, the G8 is sweet enough you might start saying “It’s a Pontiac” with pride, not shame. The performance-minded should spring for the V8-powered GT, which blows away a BMW 550i for half the price – well, even less, now. $1500 cash on the hood.

G8 base: $28,875/$26,320

G8 GT: $32,240/$29,538

Solstice: Personally, I prefer the styling of its Saturn Sky sibling, but the Solstice is cheaper out the gate, so I’m giving it the slot on the list. Sadly, it looks like GM has marked up the prices recently: when it came out a few years ago, Pontiac was advertising that the Solstice started at $5 less than twenty grand; as you can see, it’s gone up a good bit since then. If you’ve got cash burning a hole in your pocket, the turbocharged 260-hp GXP gives you a little more straight-line fin, but both cars will make you smile.

Solstice base: $24,895/$23,509

Solstice GXP: $30,105/$28,491

Saab

9-3: Yes, remarkably, Saab is owned by General Motors, and as such should be a full participant in this program. I say might, because the GM website mentions something about seeing your Saab dealer for more details, but hey, you have to see any dealer for more details. Saab’s quirky lineup hasn’t been changed much in the last decade or so, so the only model really worth anyone’s time is the smaller 9-3. Basics are best here; four-door, not convertible or station wagon is the way to go. Leave the all-wheel-drive to the other Swedes – front-wheel-drive is fine for you. And for God’s sake, don’t go throwing thousands of dollars of options on it. Ikea-esque minimalism is the way to go here. $2000 incentive on all Saabs, not just the 9-3.

9-3 Touring Sedan FWD: $31,135/$28,243

Saturn

Astra: This little baby is another import – however, unlike the Aussie G8, this baby’s from across the other ocean. Replacing the tepid Ion (a car so forgettable, Saturn loaned one to Car and Driver and never remembered to pick it up), this Vauxhall-in-celestial-garb comes in 2- and 4-door hatchback forms. Unfortunately, GM’s “supplier pricing” website doesn’t offer pricing info on it, but given the $16,495 base price on Saturn’s own website, you’ll probably save only a couple hundred more.

Finally, I noticed on GM’s list of incentives (which covers “new and unused” 2008 models as well as 2009) there were a few figures which seemed, well, incredible enough to list.  I don’t necessarily like these models, but I figured I’d give you the discounts anyway; for 2008 models, I used the 2009 MSRPs and wholesale prices, so the ’08s might actually be a little cheaper than I’ve listed.

2009 Hummer H3T: $5,500 incentive. ($32,045/$24,665)

2008 Cadillac Escalade, all models: $6750 incentive. (Escalade AWD: $64,485/$53,815)

2008 Cadillac STS, all models: $6000 incentive. (STS V6 RWD: $46,725/$38,416)

2008 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Extended/Crew Cab: $5,500 incentive. (Work Truck Ext. Cab Medium Bed 4WD: $29,330/$29,812)

2008 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD: $6000 incentive. (Work Truck Regular Cab Long Bed 4WD: $29,570/$21,614)

2008 Saab 9-7X: $7,250 incentive. (9-7X 4.2i: $43,390/$33,789)

2008 Saab 9-3, all models: $4750 incentive. (2.0T Touring: $31,135/$25,493)

2008 Saab 9-5, all models: $5250 incentive. (2.3T Sedan: $41,180/$34,344)

So get out there and buy some GM iron! After all, these deals won’t last long. I mean, the company might well be bankrupt within six months, and then you’ll never see these deals again! (That is, if you ever see a new GM vehicle again.) Do your part! Save the economy! Buy GM! Baseball! Hot Dogs! Apple Pie! Etc! America – fuck yeah! Wooooooo!

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