Study: More Car Buyers Are Avoiding Test Drives
Shoppers increasingly rely only on information online and buy before trying a vehicle.
The test drive has always been a traditional part of car shopping, and often the determining factor in whether to purchase a vehicle. But a new study shows that with a wealth of online information such as vehicle pricing, specs and performance, more people are skipping the test drive, and their first experience behind the wheel of their new car is when they roll off the lot.
The Maritz Research study surveyed 80,219 buyers of 2012 model-year vehicles and discovered that 11.4 percent -- more than one in 10 -- didn't take a test drive. Of those who did, the study found that 9.5 percent scheduled a test drive using the Internet, up from 7.4 percent in 2010. It also uncovered that eight out of 10 buyers used the Internet to research purchasing a new car before going to a dealership.
What kind of person would make such a large purchase -- often the second-largest investment behind a home -- without taking the time to at least kick the tires? One is Andy Thedjoprasetyono, a marketing manager from Indianapolis who spoke with the Detroit Free Press about his reasoning.
Thedjoprasetyono purchased a new 2008 Honda Fit four years ago without taking a test drive. Instead, he relied on several online sources and magazines to research cars before visiting the dealership. Like a lot of shoppers, the dealership experience -- known, fairly or not, for pushy salespeople and haggling -- is something he wanted to avoid. “Honestly, I hate dealing with car salesmen,” he said in an e-mail to the newspaper.
“I just find it quite fascinating and a little baffling,” Chris Travell, vice president of strategic consulting for Maritz Research, told the Detroit Free Press about the trend. “As cliché as perhaps it sounds, there's that new-car smell that needs to be experienced firsthand and cannot be experienced over the Internet.”
Although you can experience that new-car smell after purchasing the car, there are many factors that can lead to buyer’s remorse if you don’t become familiar with the car firsthand. From the way the car handles and other performance aspects to how the seats adjust to fit your body and how its various controls operate (or don't), whether a vehicle is right for you is highly subjective.
In addition, many vehicles are now laden with technology such as Bluetooth hands-free phone and smartphone-application integration. Many of these systems depend on connecting the driver’s phone, and learning how to access and use their features is crucial. Since most are first-generation systems and can be buggy, it’s important to try them before buying the vehicle. It can go a long way toward saving yourself some frustration later.
“There's nothing online that tells you how that car feels,” Ken Thomas, general manager of Telegraph Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Taylor, Mich., told the Detroit Free Press. “I enforce it with the salespeople that they have to at least offer a test drive with every customer.”
Of course, dealers view the test drive as a way to win over undecided shoppers and convert them to a committed buyer, or to steer them to their own models over those of competitors. They also see it as a chance to up-sell a shopper into a higher-priced vehicle.
That’s why it’s essential to go into a test drive with certain goals in mind and know the information you want to walk away with while ignoring anything superfluous from a chatty salesperson. Some dealerships also now allow overnight test drives so you can take the car home and spend more time with it to use on your daily routes.
Shoppers now have more tools at their disposal, but feeling is still believing before signing on the dotted line for a new car. So while MSN Autos arms you with shopping information, we also strongly advise scheduling a test drive -- or two -- before making such a big purchase.
Would you buy a car any other way?
[Source: Detroit Free Press]
My advice to anyone considering a new car is to rent one for a week (if possible). We ended up renting a Murano while on vacation. We enjoyed it so much we decided to buy one. We still test drove the one we ended up buying but we already had our minds made up that we were going to get it. Granted, not all cars are available to rent but the more time you can spend with a vehicle before you buy it the more you will know what you like and, more importantly, what you do not like about a car. You also won't have a salesman in your ear the whole time. On our last vacation we rented a Ford Fusion for a week. I now know that I will never consider owning one.
frosty states......lol......"If we are going to talk appliances, you better add the Fusion and every vehicle that GM makes. At least the Toyotas and Hondas are high end appliances, unlike the less reliable competition."
When frosty sobers up tomorrow he`ll figure out that cars like the GM Cadillac CTS V/Corvette, Dodge Viper and Ford Mustang just to name a few are not appliances. These have heart and soul and are world class. And Toyota brings what to that table????
frosty has truly lost his mind folks
"And Toyota brings what to that table????"
Well, I'd count the FR-s (Granted that is more Subaru than Toyota but they are the ones that forced Subaru into it) as a vehicle with heart and soul. It really is a blast to drive and I do find the exterior rather nice. Another vehicle would be the Lexus LFA albeit an extremely expensive vehicle but it serves no other purpose other than to excite the blood.
I do agree though that the name Toyota brings up visions of neutral, non-flashy machines that simply get you from point A to point B. Is this a bad thing? For most, no it is exactly what they are looking for. For enthusiasts it is a terrible thing and we will trade off the potential reliability for excitement and something that speaks to us inside.
I bought my last new car just to impress the neighbors.
It justs sits in the driveway all polished and shiny, like bling eye candy.
I'll drive my new car when I get around to it already!
The "Death Wobble" is term I have been using for years....My 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee did the same thing.
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