auto

Honda and Nissan make a run at Toyota

Tara Baukus MelloNissan and Honda shoppers can capitalize on buy and lease incentives as the two Japanese automakers take aim at the No. 1 automaker in the U.S.

After weeks of bad press about Toyota safety issues and recalls, its competitors have launched aggressive rebate programs and other deals to lure worried Toyota owners and to counter Toyota's own incentives which began in early March to keep its customers from fleeing the brand.

For buyers, Honda is offering reduced finance rates as low as 0.9 percent on 2010 model year Accord models including its new Crosstour as well as the Civic, Fit and Pilot, while finance rates as low as 1.9 percent are available to qualified buyers of the Odyssey and Ridgeline. No cash-back rebates are currently being offered.

Honda's larger campaign targets lessees with zero money down, zero security deposit, no payment for the first month and nothing due at signing on some versions of every model in Honda's lineup. It is also offering cut-rate lease deals for those ready to make a down payment of $1,399 to $2,599, depending on the model but excluding the Element, Fit and Ridgeline.

Buyers interested in a 2010 model year Nissan car, truck or SUV have some great incentives, too. Every vehicle in its lineup except for the Cube, Z, and GT-R models has finance rates as low as zero percent available to qualified buyers. All models with the reduced interest rate promotion also have rebate offers.

There is a $500 cash-back rebate available on the Sentra SR, Rogue and Murano, while you can get $1,000 cash back on Altimas and other Sentra models. There are $1,250 rebates available on Maxima and Versa.

You will find $2,000 rebates on Frontier (except the XE version) and Xterra. You'll also receive $2,500 cash back on Pathfinder and a $3,000 rebate on Altima Hybrid, which is only available in certain states. Finally, there's a $4,000 rebate available on Armada and most Titan models, while the Titan Pro-4X comes with a $5,000 rebate.

If you're looking for a lease, there also are lots of options on all Nissan models, except Versa and Titan. All lease deals require either a $2,449 or $2,999 down payment, depending on the model, and run for 39 months. Monthly payments vary widely, ranging from $179 a month for the Sentra 2.0 SR to $519 a month for the Nissan Armada SE 4x4.

Finally, Nissan is offering an additional $500 cash back as part of its SignatureGRADUATE program for buyers or lessees of select models of the Altima or Versa or any model of the Cube, Rogue or Sentra. College graduates must have graduated within the last two years or furnish proof they'll be graduating within the next six months from an accredited two- or four-year university, college, graduate school or nursing program. They must be able to show proof of current employment or have a formal job offer upon graduation.

Keep in mind buyers and lessees must qualify in order to take advantage of the incentives listed here. While these deals are accurate for this week, they can be changed or withdrawn by the automakers at any time.

Bankrate's content, including the guidance of its advice-and-expert columns and this Web site, is intended only to assist you with financial decisions. The content is broad in scope and does not consider your personal financial situation. Bankrate recommends that you seek the advice of advisers who are fully aware of your individual circumstances before making any final decisions or implementing any financial strategy. Please remember that your use of this Web site is governed by Bankrate's Terms of Use.

Read more Driving for Dollars columns and Bankrate auto stories. If you have a car question, e-mail it to us at Driving for Dollars.

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Tara Baukus Mello

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