Black Friday has a predictable routine: Millions of hopeful shoppers, their bellies stuffed with turkey and pie, line up outside their friendly neighborhood stores and wait for the running of the bulls. When H-hour arrives, the doors burst open, the customers storm in, and local retailers transform into the Thunderdome, suburbia edition.
But for some shoppers, Black Friday is about other visions ... more exciting visions ... visions with wheels.
According to auto research and forecasting company TrueCar, the day after Thanksgiving isn't just the best day to buy TVs and blu-ray players. "Our analysis of the data has shown that Black Friday is also the biggest savings day of the year for car buyers," CEO Scott Painter says, pointing out that many dealers are offering some of the best deals of the year in an attempt to draw in post-Thanksgiving customers.
TrueCar, which bases its predictions on a range of data from dealers, vehicle registrations, insurance companies and other sources, has identified five cars that it predicts will be the best Black Friday auto deals. The top bargain, the 2011 Mitsubishi Endeavor, is a mid-sized SUV that usually retails for $29,109. According to TrueCar, Black Friday discounts and deals will drop its price by more than 23%, knocking the final cost down to $22,334. The next-best deal, and the cheapest vehicle in the top five, is the 2011 Chevy Silverado. According to TrueCar, the light pickup truck will fall from $22,230 to $17,370 -- a 21.9% drop. To see more deals check out our slideshow.
These discounts seem hefty considering the average mark-down buyers have gotten this year is about 6%, according to TrueCar.
Autos are popular holiday gifts, explains Paul Taylor a chief economist for the National Automobile Dealers Association. And on Black Friday, he says, car dealers are trying hard to compete with the draw of malls and big box stores.
It all adds up to a compelling argument for spending Black Friday picking out a gift that'll be "unwrapped" in the driveway rather than under the tree.
The Five Best Car Deals of 2011
Black Friday on Wheels: 2011's Five Best Car Deals
This is the best Black Friday deal out there. TrueCar is predicting that buyers will be able to shave 23.3% off the retail price of $29,109. The final price: $22,334.
If you're in the market for a truck, consider this one. TrueCar is predicting an almost 22% reduction off retail, dropping the price from $22,230 to $17,370.
This sleek sedan will also be a great deal, with a 16.5% drop from its full price bringing the cost from $21,995 to $18,368.
Its performance and luxury come with a hefty price tag for a non-luxe brand, but Black Friday discounts could send its cost down by almost 15%, from $32,510 to $27,664.
The popular compact SUV could be a great deal on Black Friday. Discounts could drop the price by almost 14%, from $25,495 to $22,045.
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Bruce Watson is a senior features writer for DailyFinance. You can reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter at @bruce1971.