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Gone are the days of heading blindly over to the nearest dealership, hoping to find something you'll like and being largely at the mercy of the salesperson who greets you at the door. Now, most people do extensive research online before ever setting foot on the lot - and that's assuming they're not having the vehicle delivered directly to their home, sight unseen. Today's new car-buying experience is vastly different from what it was even ten years ago.
So, what are the ways you can put online car-buying platforms to good use? Your first step is to gather information. What makes and models do you prefer? Which cars have a stellar track record for quality and safety? How much should you expect to spend to get your must-have features? The best sites will give you all of that knowledge and then some.
Saturday, October 1st
Cars is the absolute best way to buy a new car. Everything about this site is a winner, from detailed, expert reviews to a "matchmaker" feature to help you determine which cars will meet your expectations. Inventory is abundant too, with over 50,000 vehicles added daily. All that's left for you is to reach out to the dealership and finalize your purchase - and Cars makes that quick and easy too. This site gets our first-place ranking among car-buying services for new vehicles.
CarGurus makes new car shopping a breeze: you'll see plenty of available vehicles near you, with enough information to make a good decision. This platform lets you either request contact from the dealership or connect directly to the dealer's website to finish the purchase process: totally transparent and no funny business. CarGurus is one of our favorite sites for buying a new car.
Should you be one of the 14 million people who visit Autotrader each month in search of a new vehicle? We say yes! This service efficiently connects you to real listings of cars available near you, and doesn't make you guess which dealers are selling them or wait for them to respond to an online contact form. You may find a slightly longer list of matching cars with our two higher-rated services, but overall Autotrader should get your attention when buying new cars.
You'll have a hard time finding a more knowledgeable site than Edmunds when looking for information on new cars. Video test drives, in-depth reviews, and comparison guides are just a few ways they help you pick the right vehicle for your needs. Edmunds has an "A+" and accreditation from the BBB - a sterling reputation - but comes up a little short when actually connecting you with available vehicles in your area. Still, this is a resource you can trust, even if you wind up needing to use another site to buy a new car.
TrueCar has dropped in our rankings, going from our first-place choice for buying new cars to "just average" . You'll have to create an account to see vehicles available near you, and there's no guarantee that dealers will honor the price quote offered by TrueCar - or that they won't sell it before you show up for your scheduled test drive. This service can help you on the research end, but its higher-rated rivals do a better job of getting you behind the wheel.
We give Web2Carz props for being extremely informative: from video reviews to automotive industry updates, you'll get anything you need to make a smart decision on your new car purchase. However, this isn't the most useful resource for finding that vehicle: listings are limited to a small number of partner dealerships and probably won't include many available new cars near you.
There's nothing direct about using Cars Direct to buy a new car. You can get lots of background information about hundreds of makes and models, but this site makes it hard to see what vehicles are available or get a quote. Beyond that, many users of this platform complain about their contact details being sold to many other businesses. Use Cars Direct for research, but trust a higher-ranked service when you're ready to make your purchase.
You might be tempted by the convenience of using Driveway to buy a new car: purchase it online and have it delivered to your doorstep, all with no-haggle pricing and a 7-day, 400-mile return policy. However, this company's reputation should have you heading in the opposite direction: buyers frequently report not receiving the documentation needed to register their vehicles, and customer support has a poor track record for getting problems fixed. Pick a different option for buying new cars.
Next, use a car-buying site to figure out what cars are in stock near you - or nationwide, if you're willing to make a trip to pick it up or if the dealer offers delivery (usually for an extra charge). Use all of the available tools to narrow down your options by color, price, desired technology, miles per gallon, or any other criteria you've prioritized. When you click on a specific vehicle's listing, you can typically see which dealership is selling it and how to get in touch. You may even be able to see ratings from previous customers to determine if the dealer has a good reputation.
Finally, it's time to work with the dealership to make your purchase. At this point, most shoppers will head to the lot to finalize the deal: setting up financing if needed, bringing in their trade-in when applicable, and driving away. But, look at the vehicle listing closely and you may find you have the option to have the car brought right to you. Why not?
There are quite a few websites offering to help you find your new car. How can you tell which one to use? Keep these factors in mind:
To help you in the search for your new set of wheels, TopConsumerReviews.com has evaluated and ranked the best options for online car-shopping. We're sure that this information will save you time and get you connected with a vehicle you'll love to drive!
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