The early days of the new year can be a great time to shop for a new car. Dealers are motivated to clear inventory -- and the automakers are eager to boost first-quarter sales. Here are some highlights:

* Honda is offering special low-rate (3.9-4.9 percent) financing on the 2007 Element, an SUV-like wagon with available all-wheel-drive and multi-configurable interior. This vehicle hasn't sold as well as Honda had hoped -- but it is an interesting alternative to conventional SUVs. (Deals good through Feb. 5.)

* Jaguar is offering special low-rate financing on several 2007 models, including the entry-level X-type sedan (1.9 percent) and top-of-the-line XJ8 and XJR sedans (4.9 percent). Good through mid-month.

* Land Rover is also offering low-rate (4.9 percent) financing on the '07 LR3 SUV.

* General Motors is offering 4.9 percent financing (or $500-$1,500 cash back) on most 2007 Buick models, 3.9-4.9 percent (or $500-$2,000 cash back) on Chevy Avalanche and Silverado and other models. See for more details on current offers.

* Ford is offering either special-rate financing or cash back on several 2007 models, including Mustang (excluding Shelby versions), Freestar, Five Hundred and Fusion. See for information on current offers.

Buyers looking for even better deals should consider leftover 2006 model year vehicles. Many dealerships still have a large inventory of "last year's" cars, trucks and SUV sitting on their lots they're eager to get rid of. Remember: Even though they are technically year-old cars, they're still brand-new -- with new car waranties and that new car smell.

Just not the new car price!