MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — More than 11 percent of American car buyers don’t opt for a test drive prior to buying, a new study shows. Who’s to blame? The Internet, says Maritz Research’s latest test drive analysis, which showed that 78 percent of those surveyed used the Internet to assist in their purchase or lease process.

“It’s amazing that over one in 10 American buyers don’t take their model for a test drive prior to buying,” the report stated. “We identify [them] as being purely pragmatic — which means a car is good for getting me from A to B — and that’s about it. Because of this, it’s easy to see why they wouldn’t take it for a test drive.

“If you are coming out of the same brand/model, you may assume that it ‘drives the same,’” the report continued. “This is unwise, since the average American has been out of the car market for over six and a half years. There have been huge advances in technology, vehicle design, ride and handling, and hence, it’s in the customer’s best interest to experience all that a new car has to offer. It is also in the dealership’ s best interest to do everything possible to encourage test drives for the same reasons – the car the customer bought six or seven years ago is very different than the car they buy in 2012.”

Maritz sees a large opportunity for manufacturers and dealers to get customers into a test drive during the shopping process, since nearly four out of 10 customers don’t take their most considered vehicle out for a test drive. “Anything can be done to encourage test drives when the customer is in the dealership and even before they enter the dealership should be encouraged.”

The report cites complacency as the major reason that less car buyers gave their most-considered vehicle a test drive, showing that only 61 percent did. In the same study, Maritz found that 9.5 percent of Internet shoppers set up a test drive online, up from 8.8 percent in 2011 and 7.4 percent in 2010. The company’s report warned that dealers should prepare for this emerging interest.

“A dealer obviously does not want the customer to show up and nobody knew they were coming. Doesn’t exactly set a good first impression,” the report stated.