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Wednesday, March 22nd
Autotrader is one of the most visited automotive websites out there: over 14 million people visit it every month. Cars listed here can come from big dealerships, small lots, online-only services and private sellers, but if you're looking for a new car here you'll mostly find listings from well-known dealers near you.
Lots of ways to search
Do you already have a make and model in mind? Enter that, plus your zip code, right into the boxes at the top of Autotrader's New Cars for Sale page. Or, you can browse by make and style, click on "advanced search" if you've got any must-have specifics, or use the Search by Budget option a little further down the page if cost is your ultimate deciding factor.
First results may include used vehicles
When we searched for Toyota Highlanders in our area, we got over 300 matches. It took a minute, though, to realize that the list included used vehicles - despite the fact that we started on Autotrader's New Cars page. Be sure to use the filter button and select "new" ; that dropped the inventory down to just 71 vehicles in the case of our example make and model.
Get more specific if you like
Autotrader has a lot of relevant filters to help you see only the cars that match what you have in mind. Not sure? Check out the buttons right underneath the search bar: maybe you really prefer AWD/4WD, or there's a trim level that has all of the bells and whistles you want. Autotrader does a good job of anticipating what you might be looking for and suggesting ways to see just those results.
Direct connections to local inventory
What we like about using Autotrader to search for new cars is the immediate results. Unlike some of the platforms we've evaluated, this service tells you right off the bat where each car is being sold, how far it is from the zip code you entered, the KBB rating for the specific dealership, and a phone number to confirm availability - and that's just in the results list. When you go to the individual vehicle listings, you'll get everything you want to know - plus a link directly to the car on the dealer's website. (Yes, there's a form on the Autotrader site you can use to request more info, but why not skip that step and get right to it?)
Trustworthy for new cars
Autotrader maintains a flawless "A+" rating and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau; there were almost no complaints filed there at the time of this evaluation. The only negative reviews we found elsewhere were largely related to this platform's service for buying and selling used cars, and that won't have any effect on your search for a new vehicle.
Worth using when buying a car
Autotrader cuts out a lot of the unnecessary middle steps you'll see with other services for buying a new car: search for what you want and see where you can find it near you. We love that kind of transparency and how easy it is to get real-time inventory options. There were a few dealers in our area that didn't show up in our Autotrader search results (who we did see on a few other platforms' vehicle matches), but by and large this is a reliable option to start you off on your car-buying journey.
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.
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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