Posts from ‘Shopping’


If you think $2800 is a lot to pay for a thermostat, read on.

Selling cars is a cutthroat business. New-car dealers work hard to eke every penny out of each sale. Most shoppers know the routine and for that reason dread the prospect of negotiating the price of their next new vehicle.

According to a 2012 survey conducted by, 64 percent of recent new-car buyers described negotiating the price of their new car as the worst part of the purchase process. This really shouldn’t be surprising.


2009 Cadillac DTS Platinum

My dad is a pretty lousy car shopper. He has established a pattern of deciding he wants to buy a car, then delaying the purchase as long as possible, then buying something too quickly. Somewhere in this process, he decides what he wants to buy, despite continuing to look around at other cars. If you’ve been enlisted to help him through this process, you’ll want to bring along some off-brand acetaminophen.


This Chevy dealer’s website tries to be helpful, but it really isn’t.

My wife and I might be in the market for a new vehicle sometime in the not-too-distant future. While my job as an auto critic gives me unique access to the industry’s latest and greatest, I will still need to get into the proverbial trenches to research not only the product but the dealerships who sell them.

Based on my initial scouring of various Chicago-area dealership websites, I began to notice issues that made navigating these online showrooms as uncomfortable as the experience would likely be if I were to visit the brick-and-mortar location. At any moment, I felt like a guy in a zoot suit and gold tie would come up behind me and ask, “What can I do to get you into this car today?”

Fortunately, other dealerships selling the same brands of vehicles do the online thing right, providing me with plenty of tools to ensure a relaxed, yet thorough experience.

With this in mind, here are five things I believe dealerships can do to improve their virtual showrooms.


This 2013 Subaru BRZ has a nice, big knob for volume but not channel selection. On SiriusXM, getting from ’70s on 7 to Krishna Das Yoga Radio on Channel 360 is going to be a pain in the butt.

There’s no arguing that the things most auto writers focus on—price, power, handling, comfort—aren’t hugely important. Lord knows I focus on that stuff when I evaluate a car. In fact, at Consumer Guide there are exactly 10 things, plus value, that we fixate on. You can see the list as a part of any of our regular reviews.


Recently, I tried to help my uncle-in-law buy a used car. Both of us were not just surprised by the prices; we were dumbfounded. CarMax, for example, offered a 2009 Honda Civic LX sedan (automatic) for $14,998. This car was nearly four years old and was saddled with 46,000 miles. A brand-new 2012 Honda Civic LX sedan (automatic) stickers at $18,655.


The ultra-high-performance Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric is a lot more tire than you’ll need on your Toyota Corolla.

If you’re like most consumers, you likely purchase tires only slightly less often than you get married or shop for a new mattress. Additionally, it’s likely that every time you do buy tires, you’re buying them for a different vehicle, meaning your needs change each time you shop.


According to Ford, nearly half of American drivers say that fuel economy is their most important concern when buying a new vehicle.

When a contingent of Ford Motor Company folks blew into our toddlin’ town recently to show off the new Focus Electric and talk up their hybrids and EVs of the near future, they imparted one amazing factoid. Based on its own research, Ford says fuel economy is the thing that matters most to many car shoppers today—by a country mile.


Herman Cain, while still a candidate in the thick of the presidential-nomination process, suggested to critics that, if you’re unhappy with your financial situation, you should “blame yourself.”

2011 Buick Regal with ebony trim and piano-black accents

Buick Regal with ebony trim and piano-black accents

I can only imagine the challenges facing the people who pick out interior trim for new cars. There’s cost, durability, and, of course, appearance issues—and probably a million other things to take into account, too. And don’t forget that what looks great to some people will look lousy to others.

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