McLEAN, Va. – New-car and -truck buyers ranked fuel economy, ownership costs, brand perception, safety and vehicle design as the five most important attributes considered when shopping for a vehicle, according to a recent survey by Factors were scored on a scale of zero to 100, with a higher score indicating greater importance.   

Both new-car and -truck shoppers ranked Fuel Economy as the most important factor. Car buyers placed a greater emphasis on fuel economy compared to truck buyers with scores of 89 and 84, respectively.


Car buyers gave Vehicle Design a score of 76, making it the second most important factor considered behind fuel economy. 

“The fact that car shoppers ranked vehicle design so highly is a reflection of the ongoing parity we’ve seen in the areas of quality, dependability and efficiency among the brands,” said Jonathan Banks, executive automotive analyst for the NADA Used Car Guide. “As we’ve seen from the success of Hyundai and Kia over the past few years, inspirational design can change how consumers view a brand and act as a catalyst to increase new-vehicle sales.”

Banks added that the re-styles of the 2013 Honda Civic and 2014 Chevrolet Malibu, just one year after major revisions, were examples of how “manufacturers are keenly aware of the pronounced role of design in shaping the sales success of a brand.”

With scores ranging from 67 to 72, brand perception, safety and ownership costs rounded out the Top 5 most important factors considered by new-car shoppers.

Performance capabilities received a moderate score of 56, a second place ranking for luxury car respondents, just behind vehicle design.

Car respondents ranked versatility/utility, incentive availability and advanced technologies as the three least important factors. 

For SUV and truck buyers, ownership cost was the second most important purchase attribute with a score of 83, just one point behind fuel economy. 


“The close proximity of these two factors resulted from the broad composition of SUV and truck respondents, which was comprised of consumers shopping for pickup trucks and SUVs of all sizes,” Banks said. 

“Shoppers of small SUVs ranked fuel economy as their top concern and ownership costs as third, while shoppers for mid-size and large trucks ranked ownership costs as their top concern and fuel economy third,” Banks continued. “Results indicate that larger truck shoppers want to maximize fuel economy, but they also understand that the added size required to support their household and recreational needs will result in higher gasoline costs. To compensate for this, buyers will look to reduce maintenance expenses and purchase dependable trucks with solid used value retention.”     

Truck shoppers, similar to car shoppers, rated safety and brand perception as the third and fourth most important purchase considerations with rankings of 69 and 68, respectively. Vehicle design and versatility/utility followed closely behind with respective scores of 65 and 63.

Brand preference ranked fourth for truck shoppers overall, but was the No. 1 most important attribute for pickup shoppers who are loyal to specific brands in the pickup truck segment.

With an average score of 58, performance capabilities was ranked seventh by truck shoppers, but pickup truck shoppers ranked performance fourth. Luxury truck shoppers, just like luxury car shoppers, ranked performance as the second most important purchase factor.

Incentive availability received a score of 27, making it the least important purchase factor considered by truck buyers.

Through its Car Research Center, provides tools that allow consumers to research new and used cars by comparing prices, fuel economy, warranty and other important purchase factors for multiple new or used vehicles side-by-side.