Consumers accustomed to buying everything from clothes to groceries with a few taps of their digital devices have little patience for the traditional car-buying rigmarole. So purchasing a car online is a dream come true for people who dread the gamesmanship and time required to make a face-to-face purchase in a dealer’s showroom.
Progressive dealerships understand this and had begun embracing online sales even before the pandemic. But COVID-19 put the trend in overdrive, as more and more folks wanted “contactless” transactions.
Many dealerships now have digital platforms that enable you to search inventory, negotiate price, choose financing, and make a trade-in, all from your sectional sofa. Dealers will even deliver the new car to your driveway. It’s brilliant, except for one thing: Avoiding the showroom often means sacrificing test- drives. A digital sale assumes that you know what you want.
Sure, most automaker websites allow you to configure a car with your desired features, options, and colors. The web is chockablock with new-car reviews describing a car’s performance and handling qualities. And websites such as nhtsa.gov or fueleconomy.gov provide crash-test and mileage ratings.
But some things you need to judge for yourself on a test-drive—before you commit to paying tens of thousands of dollars: