How disinterested are consumers in their cars? According to a new study reported in The Detroit Free Press, more than 10 percent of new car buyers can't be bothered to take a test drive.

The study, conducted by Maritz Research, surveyed over 80,000 people who had bought 2012 model year vehicles, and the final tally of those who didn't take a test drive was 11.4 percent, according to the report. The implication is that with some 80 percent of consumers doing their car research on the Internet, combined with a universal dislike of car sales practices, people are increasingly willing to buy a car almost sight unseen.

Dealers, oddly enough, are not happy about this trend, according to the report. The test drive is part of the dealer's arsenal of tactics to get people excited enough to part with their hard earned cash. As one former dealership representative told the Freep, "The feel of the wheel will seal the deal."

But the test drive can also be a crucial determiner for consumers, especially when car shoppers do an adequate job of comparing different vehicles by undertaking thorough test drives. No matter how good a model might look on paper or how glowingly some "professional" car reviewer might describe it, there's no replacement for actually getting it out on the road and experiencing it yourself.


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  • 159 Comments
      JF
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'd love to know which brands got purchased without a test drive. I bet Toyota and Honda would be high on that list.
      michigan
      • 2 Years Ago
      Over 10% of new car buyers are pretty dumb
      artso06
      • 2 Years Ago
      I believe there are multiple things going on here. One, and this is a known fact. Majority of people don't view cars as a special things anymore. It is dollars and cents. Second....and my biggest amazement. Dealers haven't changed in years. As society gets more used to subliminal high design (think target, ikea, etc.) dealers just feel gross and outdated. Gritty sales man, Tiles falling off the roof, etc. Third and most important. You can walk into a dealer and, because of the internet, know more on any given car than the salesman does. It becomes more of a hassle to deal with them rather than just testing a friends. Add icing on the cake; a generation who would rather buy online than deal with face to face confrontation/negotiation.
        icemilkcoffee
        • 2 Years Ago
        @artso06
        Agreed. Nowadays I and everyone I know shop for their cars through the so-called 'internet manager' anyways. You just email all the dealers in your area, and play their numbers off each other. The old sitting down at a desk with a salesman and letting them run their BS numbers-on-a-square how-much-payment-can-you-afford routine is completely passe.
      bluemoonric
      • 2 Years Ago
      @thedriveatfive....Thank you for correctly identifying THE DEALER as the problem. I have worked in auto sales for 20 years and the salesman is always blamed for the policy of the dealer. I can assure you that most salespeople hate the process as much as you do. The problem is many dealers and their managers are stuck in the 70's and 80's. They have not dealt with a customer, one on one, in 25 years. We know you have a brain and have access to more information than we do. We know you are pissed off about the process but we are powerless. Jobs are not plentiful in this economy. You have the power to change things and you should use it. Don't buy from a dealer that treats you like crap. You are contributing to the problem. Let these jerks, dealers, and dealer groups go out of business. If you are treated well by a salesperson, try to buy from them instead of selling them out for a few hundred dollars. I'm not saying you should pay more. Go back and give them an opportunity to match your deal. If you are treated like crap during the sale, how will it be after the sale? Let dealers know this is 2012 and you are not falling for their crap anymore. The dealer is sitting in the big office laughing as their salespeople take the heat for their outrageous DOC fees, processing fees, protection packages, tape pinstripes, etc. Your problem is with the person or corporation with their name on the sign not the salesperson. We can't make the change but you can.
      Radioactive Flea
      • 2 Years Ago
      All appliances basically do the same function.
      slipsiu
      • 2 Years Ago
      The inability of people to write an English sentence is amazing. It is almost impossible to understand most of these comments. Either they cannot type, think clearly or understand English grammar (or all of them together).
        • 2 Years Ago
        @slipsiu
        [blocked]
      gypsyrecs
      • 2 Years Ago
      I love this part: "No matter how good a model might look on paper or how glowingly some "professional" car reviewer might describe it, there's no replacement for actually getting it out on the road and experiencing it yourself." I was all excited about the Mazda CX5 thanks to the many positive magazine reviews - then I drove the thing and found it painfully slow - I thought there was something wrong with the tester. But no, it's just really, really slow.
        icemilkcoffee
        • 2 Years Ago
        @gypsyrecs
        Didn't every magazine review mention that fact (that it's painfully slow)? That said I also test drove the CX5 in the AWD trim. I agree that it's painfully slow for my wife who is the primary driver. It's perfectly fine for me though. My first cars were aircooled VW bus and bug so I have no problem with driving slow cars.
        QCRamAir
        • 2 Years Ago
        @gypsyrecs
        I've gotten that response from everyone who's experienced the new CX5, both magazine reviewers and consumers alike. No matter what opinions everyone has about it, one thing that's a fact is that it's just s-l-o-w.
          tinted up
          • 2 Years Ago
          @QCRamAir
          Not only the is the CX-5 really really slow, but in cold environments it has a very hard time keeping the cabin warm as well as producing heat in a quick manner. I am not surprised because I know what Mazda had to do with this new motor to get it run as efficiently as it does (less waste heat and such).
          gypsyrecs
          • 2 Years Ago
          @QCRamAir
          I know, it's crazy. I knew it was going to be slow - all the magazine reviews said it was slow - but I was not prepared for it to be as sluggish off the line as it really is. Unnervingly so.
        k_m94
        • 2 Years Ago
        @gypsyrecs
        A 155hp 2.0L I4 is decently peppy in a small Mazda 3 (though not brilliant). In the much larger CX5, well, you can see why people don't like to reverse hot rod smaller asthmatic engines into bigger and heavier cars. The CX5 needs the diesel Skyactiv even in diesel averse America. More efficient, more powerful, and at least twice as torquey over a usable rpm range. No wonder it heavily outsells the gasoline in all markets both are offered...which is to say not here. For those looking for real "Zoom Zoom", would it be too hard to make a turbocharged gasoline CX5 with 250+hp?
      TBN27
      • 2 Years Ago
      Away from this report i went to test drive the car i bought and the salesman didn't want to give me a test drive.
        TBN27
        • 2 Years Ago
        @TBN27
        So i went to another dealer.
          axiomatik
          • 2 Years Ago
          @TBN27
          I recently wanted to test drive a WRX that arrived at a nearby dealer. Dealer claimed that they had a policy of no test drives on WRX's. So I bought an RX-8. Besides, the WRX interior sucks.
      newbom
      • 2 Years Ago
      My dad was in the car biz and I sold cars and trucks myself, too. My best advice for anyone buying a vehicle today is do lots of research online and make sure to check out consumer websites. It's best to know what vehicles you want to see before going to any dealer's lot. Test drive at least three competing models once you narrow your choices down to a certain type or class of vehicle. It's important to have comparisons and always do a test drive, even if you're buying the same model again. Manufacturers make minor changes from year to year that can really affect performance of the vehicle and you may not agree with what salesmen or automotive writers think. You'll almost always get some surprises by test driving several competing models. It can reinforce or dispell the ideas or feelings you get about a vehicle. It helps YOU to make the best decision for YOU.
      bluemoonric
      • 2 Years Ago
      Salespeople know a test drive is important and it can make or break a deal. Test driving an econobox is going to be easier than test driving a high end sports car. Salespeople deal with joy riders everyday and we cannot afford to waste our time. Do you know how many people want a $40,000 car for $250 per month? It is not going to happen with a $1,000 down payment. Why should we waste our time? Do some basic math before you go shopping. Make sure you can afford the vehicle. I have had people with an income of $1,000 per month say they can afford a $950 car payment. What about gas, insurance, etc.? The bank will not agree with you. If someone is involved in the decision making process take them with you for the test drive. Men come in and test drive the big bad SUV. The wife comes and says no way, we are buying a mini van. 99% of the time, they will buy the mini van. Make sure everyone is on the same page. If possible? We can't magically change the kind of your spouse. Salespeople are human too. If they were just ripped by the manager for letting someone test drive a vehicle and you are wanting to test drive it. They may risk losing a sale instead of going down that road again. Most managers kill more sales than they save. If dealers only knew. Also, safety is factor. We are all told from birth, don't get in the car with a stranger. Salespeople want to know something about you before they get in the car with you. Are you willing to get in the car with someone you just met and know nothing about? I know people that wish they had never gone on a test drive.
        waagtod
        • 2 Years Ago
        @bluemoonric
        You are missing sales. I make it a point to dress down when I car shop,if the salesman is indifferent or unhelpful I move on to a different dealership. I also have no time for someone wastes MY time. For your info I have purchased 6 vehicles in the last 9 years. You wouldn't last long in my retail business.
        chicagokrude
        • 2 Years Ago
        @bluemoonric
        Obviously you are an experinced auto salesperson ............ sell the benefits ....joy riders (lookee Lou's) ....... decision maker being present ............... a hole managers ................... and SAFETY for the salesperson ............. are all very valid points ........ unfortunately, there are many more that I do not have the time or the energy to list
      Toneron
      • 2 Years Ago
      Do it every time. What - if I don't like the way it drives would I go buy the other AWD boxer-engined wagon?
      s tgsyt yt
      • 2 Years Ago
      many dealers make it impossible to test drive a car.
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