Regardless of how you feel about the recent tank in oil prices, it’s hard to argue that seeing gasoline prices at less than a loonie per litre has helped spur a larger push towards freeing up pocket cash. Unfortunately, that’s almost certainly temporary, and our other costs of living haven’t softened yet.

Car manufacturers rely on low interest rates and much longer finance terms to gain traction with consumers who can’t afford to pay in full. The four-year – i.e. 48 month – deals once described as economy-ending now seem quaint. Some industry experts have described the ‘hottest segment’ at 84 months or 7 years, but you can find ones that go to 8. Depending on the source, the Canadian average continues a steady rise, and currently sits at 71 months, just short of that magical 6-year figure.

We’ve assembled 10 new or heavily revised vehicles that can be financed for $500 a month, and that payment includes all the sales tax, environmental charges, freight and PDI charges. We aimed to keep the term to a ‘responsible’ 60 months, although one required pushing out to 72; we also limited down payments to maximum 20 percent of MSRP.

Obviously, the usual disclaimers apply: these prices are just estimates, things like rebates and interest rates change rapidly, etc. However, our calculations start with the MSRP – which no one pays – and there’s always room to negotiate a better price.

2015 Ford Mustang EcoBoost

MSRP: $27,999
Total Price: $33,560
Down Payment: $5,000
Rate/Term: 1.99% for 60 months
Monthly Payment: $501

When Ford announced that it was not only making an independent rear suspension standard on its 2015 Mustang but that it would also offer an optional turbocharged four-cylinder as well, the enthusiast world kind of exploded. But the result, while not entirely revolutionary, is pretty good. The 2.3-litre EcoBoost has 310 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque, and is the ‘middle’ choice between the base V6 and vocal V8. A six-speed manual is standard, as are LED taillights, and a good number of interior convenience figures. To hit the $500 target, there aren’t any included options, but extending the term an extra year would allow things like the awesome performance package and some interior upgrades without altering the monthly payment.

2015 Mazda3 Sport GT

MSRP: $26,995
Total Price: $33,566
Down Payment: $3,500
Rate/Term: 1.49% for 60 months
Monthly Payment: $504.58

The Mazda3 has always been a favourite of Canadians and critics alike thanks to its entertaining demeanour, reliability, and especially practicality in five-door Sport form. While the big news for 2015 is the availability of a six-speed manual transmission with the larger 184-horsepower 2.5-litre Skyactiv engine, the six-speed automatic is one of the best around and certainly the more chosen option. The GT trim gets plenty of standard features like dual-zone climate control, leather-wrapped touch points, navigation system and a nine-speaker Bose audio system, but options like leather seats, an active safety suite and more haven’t been included here.

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