Car Buyers Choose Reviews as Most Important Purchase Factor

What’s most important to car shoppers when it comes to choosing a vehicle? Is it the look? The way it drives? Fuel economy? After all, if you’re going to sell cars, you need to know what motivates buyers to purchase a car. According to a new study conducted by Morning Consult, it’s reviews that are the most important element to most Americans. Good reviews will lead to purchases, and bad reviews lead to avoidance.

While the study, based on a national sample of 2,202 adults, found that fuel economy is indeed important to American car buyers, a greater proportion of respondents (60 percent) indicated that reviews were at the top of their decision factor list, followed by the safety of the car (58 percent) and cargo space (48 percent). Only 44 percent of respondents chose “lower miles to the gallon than competitors.”  Interestingly, safety concerns about vehicles increased with the respondent’s age, with only 45 percent of buyers aged 18 to 29 choosing safety as a feature, and 69 percent of buyers over age 65 doing so.

The study also surveyed Americans’ views on the Trump administration’s proposal to overturn new fuel efficiency standards for cars. The survey, which provided a brief overview of the administration’s arguments for the proposed changes and opponents’ arguments against it, showed 39 percent of adults opposed the administration’s proposal, with 33 percent supporting it. Twenty-nine percent did not register an opinion. Support fell along party lines, with 59 percent of Republicans somewhat or strongly supporting the process to modify the vehicle standards, while 61 percent of Democrats somewhat or strongly oppose the effort, according to Morning Consult.

While only 44 percent of respondents chose fuel efficiency as their top auto purchase feature, a study conducted last year by Consumers Union, the policy and mobilization division of Consumer Reports, found that nine in 10 consumers agree that automakers should continue to improve the fuel efficiency for all vehicles.

“Consumers see the value in fuel efficiency, and the technology more than pays for itself through fuel savings,” said Shannon Baker-Branstetter, policy counsel for Consumers Union. “As automakers increase vehicle efficiency, consumers benefit from greater savings.”

The Trump administration is attempting to overturn new fuel efficiency standards because it says it believes that the higher fuel efficiency standards will price may consumers out of the market for purchasing a vehicle.

“We all want great fuel economy,” Thomas Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research, who also led President Donald Trump’s transition team at the Energy Department, told Morning Consult. But placing fuel efficiency above other considerations, he said, impacts who is able to afford a car and which cars are made available.