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The 2012 Deals of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas, it would be terrible if your true love said to you, “This new car is nice, but you could have saved a lot of money by buying it next week.”

Though few people are likely to give (or get) a new car this holiday season, the week between Christmas and New Year’s marks the time when car shoppers are likely to get the best deal on a new car. According to TrueCar, a company that tracks new car transaction prices, seven of the 10 best days of the year to buy a new car are in December. And six of those seven days are between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, with average discounts of about 9 percent off the MSRP. If you’re shopping for a Christmas car or Chanukah choopty, waiting for the last week of December could mean that you’ll pay less.

[In Pictures: the 2012 Deals of Christmas]

To help you zero in on the best new car deals like a reindeer on a rooftop, we’ve compiled the 12 best deals that run between Christmas and the first few days of the new year. These are cars that not only have significant cash back offers, financing offers and lease deals available, but also do well in the U.S. News Best Cars rankings, so you’ll feel merry every time you drive them. To keep you from getting a great deal on last year’s car, all of the 12 deals of Christmas apply to 2012 models.

2012 Buick Enclave

A perennial favorite with car reviewers, the 2012 Buick Enclave features a plush interior and comfortable performance. Through Jan. 2, it also features $1,500 cash back or 1.9% financing for up to five years – which is about how long it will take you to work off all those Christmas cookies.

2012 Ford Fusion

The Ford Fusion features an affordable starting price and performance that’s more flavorful than Aunt Mary’s rum balls. Until New Year’s Day, you can get the 2012 Fusion with $2,000 cash back or 0% financing for up to 60 months.

2012 Volkswagen Tiguan

Germans are famous for their Christmas markets and for building cars that outperform almost anything else on the road. With the 2012 VW Tiguan, you not only get German performance, but also enough space to haul all of those tacky sweaters that grandma gave you back to the mall. You should have some cash left over to get what you really want: Through Jan. 3, the Tiguan has 0.9% financing for up to 60 months.

2012 Mazda5

Most people resolve to trim down in the new year, and with the 2012 Mazda5, you can start early. With seating for six and the convenience of sliding rear doors, the Mazda5 is as practical as a minivan, but its smaller footprint gives it engaging performance and better fuel economy. Save at the dealership as well as the pump by getting your Mazda5 by Jan. 3, when it has 0.9% financing and no payments for 90 days.

2012 Chevrolet Cruze

Good things (like diamond earrings) come in small packages, but if you’re shopping for a small car, a little extra space is always welcome. Reviewers say the 2012 Chevrolet Cruze packs a roomy interior, good performance and great features for the price. Through Jan. 3, you can lease a 2012 Chevrolet Cruze for $169 per month for 36 months. That’s probably less than the data plan you’ll have to get to go with that new smartphone Santa gave you.

[More Great Holiday Car Deals]

2012 Lexus IS    

You won’t need eight tiny reindeer to get through winter’s snowy roads if you have all-wheel drive. The Lexus IS 250 with all-wheel drive is not only sporty, but is available for $329 a month for 36 months, which should make it appealing to even the most dedicated Scrooge.

2012 BMW 1-Series

How does Santa make it to all those houses in one night? We don’t know, but his job would probably be a whole lot easier if he had a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine that made 300 horsepower, like the 2012 BMW 135 does. With a lease deal that makes payments just $419 per month, Santa could deliver toys in record time and have plenty of cash left over for giving elves their bonuses.

2012 Hyundai Sonata

Giving a gift always feels better when it looks like you spent more than you did. Most car reviewers say the 2012 Hyundai Sonata looks and feels more expensive than it is. That feeling is even more powerful through Jan. 3, when the 2012 Sonata is available for purchase with 1.9% financing for 36 months, or for lease for $259 per month for 36 months.

2012 Honda Odyssey

Going over the river and through the woods can actually be fun in the comfortable and feature-laden 2012 Honda Odyssey. With comfortable seating for up to seven and some of the best performance in the minivan class, the Odyssey is a no-brainer for families. Through Jan. 3, you can get one with 0.9% financing for 36 months, leaving plenty of cash for the antacids you’ll need after sampling grandma’s fruitcake.

2012 Subaru Outback

Reviewers love how the Subaru Outback combines practicality with safety, sure-footed all-wheel drive and good performance. Car shoppers will love how the Outback, which rarely has discounts or incentives, can be leased for just $249 per month for 42 months, or bought with 1.9% financing. With that kind of pricing, the versatile Outback will be way more useful than that veggie chopper/steamer/shoe polisher Uncle Roy gave you.

[Best Lease Deals in December]

2012 Chevrolet Tahoe

‘Tis the season for giving and getting, and when you opt for the 2012 Chevy Tahoe, you’ll not only get a top-rated full-size SUV with some of the best fuel economy ratings in the class, but you’ll also be able to get $1,000 cash back. What you do with the money is up to you, but after spending a month buying gifts for other people, no one will blame you for spending it on yourself.

2012 Kia Forte

Choosing to spend the holidays with the in-laws or with your family is tough. Luckily, if you want the 2012 Kia Forte, you don’t have to choose between low-interest financing or cash back. Through Jan. 3, you can get a 2012 Kia Forte, which is available as a sedan, coupe or hatchback, with 1.9% financing for 36 months and $500 cash back. Score one for marital harmony.