Other than a new home, a new car is one of the biggest purchases a person will ever make. In 2016, new car sales in the U.S. jumped 7 percent over last year, but are people prepared before heading to their local dealership? Purchasing a car is an important financial decision whether you are single, have a family, soon-to-be retired, or whether or not you’re planning to receive a big tax refund this year.
Autotrader released the results of its national consumer survey about the shopping habits and preferences of new car buyers as it relates to the test drive. According to the survey, 80 percent of new car shoppers would prefer a guide, checklist or tip sheet to prepare them before their test drive.
Here are some of the highlights from the report:
The majority (70%) of tax filers expect to get a refund
Among those expecting a refund, 47% plan to save the money, 35% plan to pay off credit card debt, and 27% plan to use it toward a car related expense.
Among those using their refund for a car related expense (n=102), Most (61%) are using it toward the purchase of a new or used car. 28% are using it for repair and only 10% are using it to pay off their existing car.
90% of buyers said that they test drove their vehicle before buying it.
84% said test driving the vehicle they are considering is extremely important (97% said extremely or somewhat important)
Most (58%) only need one test drive with the vehicle before making a decision on it. [This varies a little from what we saw in our Car Buyer Journey research]
Over half (51%) said that they need less than 30 minutes to thoroughly test drive a vehicle. Only 2% said that they need the vehicle overnight/24 hours.
While only 13% included Electronics/infotainment in their Top 3 things that they look for on a test drive, this could be because those features are evaluated at the dealership and not on the actual test drive.
Salespeople are generally seen as helpful to have in the vehicle during the test drive (59% said it is very or somewhat helpful). Only 18% said it was somewhat or very unhelpful.
64% said that the most helpful thing a salesperson could do during the test drive is to show the features and functionality of the vehicle.
80% said a guide, checklist or tip sheet would be helpful for them.
When looking to purchase a new car, the test drive is considered one of the most influential parts of the decision making process. The problem? Most people take less than 30 minutes on a test drive, and they only take one test drive in the vehicle they’re planning on purchasing, which is not long enough to make an informed decision.
Autotrader also released a guide of helpful tips and other resources for new car shoppers, along with its annual list of “Must Test Drive Vehicles.”
2016 Must Test Drive Vehicles:
- 2016 Chevrolet Malibu
- 2016 Fiat 500X
- 2016 Honda Civic
- 2016 Kia Sedona
- 2016 Lincoln MKC
- 2016 Mercedes Benz GLC300
- 2016 Nissan Titan XD
- 2016 Subaru Legacy
- 2016 Toyota Prius
- 2016 Volvo XC90
Must Test Drive Tips
1. Come prepared with people and stuff.
Your test drive should mimic closely the way you use your car in day-to-day driving, so you need to bring the people and items that typically ride with you. If you have a family, take them along. Try a child safety seat to see how it fits. Throw your golf bag in the trunk. See if your lanky teenager can sit comfortably in the backseat. If you’re single and typically drive alone, bring a friend. You’ll benefit from the help of a sidekick anyway.
2. Don’t follow the usual route.
When you take a test drive with a dealership salesperson, it’s likely that the route won’t be very long. Nearly any salesperson will allow a longer test drive, if a shopper requests it, especially if they’re serious about making a sale. Make sure you test the road in your typical driving conditions—through neighborhoods, on the highway, and in rush hour traffic if your daily commute has you in tenuous stop-and-go traffic. And don’t forget to try driving it home, if possible, and parking it in your garage to see if it fits.
3. Drive on rough roads.
One of the most important places to go on a test drive is on rough roads to find out how a car drives on harsh surfaces. It would be no fun to drive home in a new car and discover later that the ride is too jarring for you to handle.
4. Drive on curvy roads.
After you’ve driven on a rough road and on the highway, your next stop should be a road with some curves. You’ll want to do this in order to feel the physics of the car. Is it too top-heavy? Do its motions make you carsick? And, of course, do you feel like the steering and handling is adequate for your needs? A curvy road is the best place to answer each of those questions.
5. Try parking the car in various scenarios.
Many shoppers on a test drive forget a crucial aspect of driving that can be very stressful: parking. That’s why we strongly suggest that you take any vehicle and try to park it in different parking places like a crowded parking lot and even a parallel parking space. If you do, you might discover potential flaws with the car, such as a large turning radius or poor visibility. Of course, you also might find out that the car is easy to park, which can only be a good thing.
6. Test the infotainment system and connect your phone.
The interface for making phone calls, answering texts and accessing the maps on your phone is probably the portion of the car you’ll interact with many times per day – second only to the steering wheel and seats. Make sure the pairing is easy, that the graphics are large enough to read at a glance. If at all possible, look for a system that is very easy to use like Chrysler’s Uconnect or either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.