How to research your next car at an auto show


Car shoppers and cars at auto show


Millions of people flock to auto shows each year and, while it’s entertaining to picture yourself in the latest supercar, many visitors are picking up invaluable knowledge for their next car purchase.

But what exactly makes these events so useful, and how should you approach things when you’re there? Here’s what you need to know.


Why auto shows are good for car shoppers

  • Car shows are like automotive shopping malls which can encompass huge numbers of vehicles under one roof, making it ideal for comparison shopping.
  • They are no-pressure environments – no cars can actually be sold at the shows so visitors are free to get first impressions, check out vehicles and gather information at their leisure.
  • They’re also one of the best places to see model debuts and upcoming releases, so you can plan for the future.


How to research your next purchase

Compare and contrast – If you only have a rough idea of the kind of vehicle you want, have a good look around to see what appeals. This can be a handy way to start drawing up a shortlist. If you’ve already done some research and have a few cars you’re particularly keen on checking out, compare them closely. The beauty of an auto show is that you can do this in a matter of steps, without having to drive from dealership to dealership to check out the competition. You may also want to keep an open mind about other cars you haven’t considered.

Go inside and out – See how each model shapes up for practicality, comfort, styling and entertainment. For instance, you might want to assess the driving position, trunk and cargo space, seating arrangement and technology features.

Make it a team effort – If other people will be driving and using the car, bring them along and get their thoughts, too. How well does the family fit into that two or three-row SUV? Do they like the seats, video screens and visibility?

Take a test-drive – Many auto shows offer visitors the chance to test-drive vehicles within the grounds of the show or the local area. Taking the wheel will give you another chance to evaluate that car, utility or truck.

Talk to automaker reps – Ask the knowledgeable automaker representatives any questions you may have about their vehicles. They won’t be trying to close a deal, but they will have pricing information if you’d like it.

Gather details from display screens – You can pick up useful information from the displays, many of which are interactive screens, beside the cars on show. There’s the traditional brochure to take home, as well.


What should I do afterwards?

Whether you intend to buy a vehicle in the next year or you’re in the latter stages of your shopping efforts, visiting an auto show with a game-plan will likely give you a firmer idea of which vehicle you see yourself driving.

Afterward, follow up with some further research to complete the picture. Consider your financing options with a preapproved loan, and you’ll be in good shape to visit the dealership to make a purchase.


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