Survey Ranks Consumer Preferences for New Vehicles

Published September 5, 2013


McLEAN, Va. (Sept. 5, 2013) - Both car and light-truck shoppers ranked Quality/Dependability as the No. 1 factor considered when making a new-vehicle purchasing decision, according to the latest survey from

Fuel Economy, cited as the most important preference of both car and light-truck buyers in last year's survey, was selected as the second-most important factor by car shoppers in this year's survey. Light-truck shoppers ranked Brand as No. 2, one spot ahead of Fuel Economy.

"While higher gasoline prices and stiffer federal regulations have raised the profile of fuel economy over the past few years, the survey results clearly indicate that car and light-truck shoppers are looking for a trouble-free ownership experience above all else," said Jonathan Banks, executive automotive analyst for the NADA Used Car Guide.

Survey respondents were asked to rank their top preferences as the most important factor considered when buying a new car or light truck.

Quality/Dependability, Brand, Fuel Economy and Vehicle Design were the top preferences for both car and light-truck shoppers surveyed.

Car Shopper Survey Results

Just like the results from the fall survey in 2012, car shoppers showed a significant preference for Vehicle Design, Safety and Fuel Economy, with an average 69% of respondents citing these factors as either important or very important.

On average, 60% of respondents shopping for a car rated Versatility/Utility and Power/Performance as either important or very important. Similarly, an average 58% of car shoppers rated cost of ownership factors, such as Warranty Coverage, Depreciation and Maintenance Fees, as either important or very important. 

Car shopper preferences for Navigation System, Smartphone Connectivity and Driver-Assist Technologies were ranked the lowest by survey participants.

"With the advent of smartphones, particularly with its navigation capabilities, the desirability of built-in navigation systems seems to be waning among those surveyed," Banks added.

Light-Truck Shopper Survey Results

The preferences of light-truck shoppers surveyed were similar to car shoppers when determining the factors that had the greatest influence on their next vehicle purchase, although the ranking of each preference differed slightly.

Safety, Versatility/Utility, Vehicle Design and Fuel Economy rounded out the top-five preferences of survey respondents shopping for a light truck.

Similar to the survey respondents shopping for a new car, an average 58% of light-truck shoppers rated ownership cost factors, excluding Insurance Fees, as important or very important. Smartphone Connectivity, Navigation System and Driver-Assist Technologies were ranked by light-truck shoppers as unimportant or very unimportant.

Banks pointed out that only 50% of survey respondents shopping for light trucks considered Towing/Payload Capacity to be important or very important. The preference of Towing/Payload Capacity increased in importance for shoppers of full-size pickup trucks and large utility vehicles, while Fuel Economy dropped.

See related blog:

  • NADA Spring 2013 Car Shopper Preference Survey: Quality and Dependability Trump Fuel Economy

Survey Methodology

The New-Car and -Truck Shopper Preference Survey is regularly conducted on to assess the importance of features commonly considered by consumers when deciding which vehicle to purchase. Survey results are used to enhance NADA's used-vehicle valuation efforts, as well as raise vehicle manufacturer awareness to the qualities considered to be the greatest value to new-vehicle shoppers.

The survey, conducted on in May 2013, garnered nearly 1,700 survey respondents who shared the types of vehicles they were looking to purchase in addition to what they currently drive. About 1,400 participants ranked the features they considered to be the most important when selecting their next car or truck.

Consumers surveyed on were asked to select one of five answers - Very Unimportant, Unimportant, Neither, Important and Very Important - for the purchase factors commonly considered when shopping for a new vehicle. Respondents were also asked to identify the factor considered most important in determining a new-vehicle purchase.

About, the largest publisher of the most market-reflective vehicle pricing and information available for new and used cars, classic cars, motorcycles, boats, RVs and manufactured homes, offers in-depth shopping and research tools including a broad range of data, products and service and informational articles as well as tips and advice. also produces electronic products, mobile applications, raw data, web services, web-syndicated products and print guidebooks. is an alliance partner of the NADA Services Corporation.

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.

About the NADA Used Car Guide

Over an 80-year history, NADA Used Car Guide has earned its reputation as the leading provider of market-reflective vehicle valuation products, services and information to businesses throughout the U.S. and worldwide. NADA's editorial team collects and analyzes more than 1 million combined wholesale and retail automotive-related transaction prices per month. Its guidebooks, auction data, analysis and data solutions offer automotive, financial, insurance and government professionals the timely information and reliable solutions they need to make better business decisions. For more information, visit


Andrea Lopez  

Allyson Toolan
Manager, Public Relations  
NADA Used Car Guide

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