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NADAguides.com: ‘Quality/Dependability’ Top Vehicle-Shopper Preferences

September 5, 2013

McLEAN, Va. — Both car and light-truck shoppers ranked “quality/dependability” as the No. 1 factor car buyers consider when making a new-vehicle purchasing decision, according to the latest survey from NADAguides.com.

Fuel economy, cited as the most important preference of both car and light-truck buyers in last year’s survey, was selected as the second-most important factor by car shoppers in this year’s survey. Light-truck shoppers ranked brand as No. 2, one spot ahead of fuel economy.

“While higher gasoline prices and stiffer federal regulations have raised the profile of fuel economy over the past few years, the survey results clearly indicate that car and light-truck shoppers are looking for a trouble-free ownership experience above all else,” said Jonathan Banks, executive automotive analyst for the NADA Used Car Guide.

Survey respondents were asked to rank their top preferences as the most important factor considered when buying a new car or light truck. Quality/dependability, brand, fuel economy and vehicle design were listed as the top preferences for both car and light-truck shoppers surveyed.

Just like the results from the fall 2012 survey, car shoppers showed a significant preference for vehicle design, safety and fuel economy, with an average 69 percent of respondents citing these factors as either important or very important.

On average, 60 percent of respondents shopping for a car rated versatility/utility and power/performance as either important or very important. Similarly, an average 58 percent of car shoppers rated cost of ownership factors, such as warranty coverage, depreciation and maintenance fees, as either important or very important.

Car-shopper preferences for navigation system, smartphone connectivity and driver-assist technologies were ranked the lowest by survey participants.

“With the advent of smartphones, particularly with its navigation capabilities, the desirability of built-in navigation systems seems to be waning among those surveyed,” Banks added.

The preferences of light-truck shoppers surveyed were similar to car shoppers, although the ranking of each preference differed slightly.

Safety, versatility/utility, vehicle design and fuel economy rounded out the Top 5 preferences of survey respondents shopping for a light truck. Additionally, 58 percent of light-truck shoppers rated ownership cost factors, excluding insurance fees, as important or very important. Smartphone connectivity, navigation system and driver-assist technologies were ranked by light-truck shoppers as “unimportant” or “very unimportant.”

Banks pointed out that only 50 percent of survey respondents shopping for light trucks considered towing/payload capacity to be important or very important. The preference of towing/payload capacity increased in importance for shoppers of full-size pickup trucks and large utility vehicles, however, while fuel economy dropped.

The survey, conducted on NADAguides.com in May 2013, garnered nearly 1,700 survey respondents. About 1,400 participants ranked the features they considered to be the most important when selecting their next car or truck.

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