Survey Says

Capital One study reveals 74 percent of buyers aren't confident car shoppers

The car buying process is a hassle for most buyers, according to a new study.

Photo by Getty Images

Its a hassle that's been played out comically in commercials for years. The salesman and buyer decide on a price for a new vehicle and the salesman then heads to the back room where he's supposed to be negotiating with the finance team but instead makes himself a cup of coffee. Meanwhile, the nervous buyers sit and wait for what seems like hours.

It's no wonder that dealerships are the biggest pain point in the car buying process. A Cars.com study recently found that potential car buyers would rather clean toilets than go through the hassle.

A new survey by Capital One reveals the factors that lead to buyers' anxiety. To get the results, a survey of 1,004 U.S. adults ages 18 and older was conducted on behalf of Capital One Auto Finance using Engine Insight's Online CARAVAN omnibus in September 2019.

Capital One - Auto Navigator InfographicGraphic courtesy of Capital One

The results showed just how far dealerships still need to go to ease the process and how much educational opportunity there still is for buyers.

Only 26 percent of respondents said that they feel very confident when shopping for a car. This is a six percent increase over the 2018 results.

The lack of confidence came from three major areas:

  • 27% said it was because they did not have finances in order when visiting a dealership
  • 43% revealed that it was because of lack of research into the vehicle they're shopping for
  • 28% attributed the anxiety to past car buying experiences

In the 2018 survey, 16 percent of respondents said that they felt "like a boss" when car shopping. In 2019, that number rose to 24 percent.

"Car shopping should be enjoyable instead of stressful, and with a little pre-work, consumers can ensure their decision complements their lifestyle and budget," said Jeffrey Rabinowitz, managing vice president, Capital One Auto Finance. "We found that 88 percent of consumers surveyed understand what it means to pre-qualify for financing, but only half are willing to try it."

Financing is traditionally the longest part of the car buying process, which Cars.com says lasts around four hours on average.

While budget is the largest determination of which vehicle a buyer selects, 28 percent of Capital One survey responders said that they are also looking for the lowest monthly payment while 27 percent focused more on the final sale price. Just 20 percent of potential buyers said that they were concerned with the total cost of ownership.

Fifty-seven percent of respondents said that they are looking for improvements in the car buying process, especially when it comes to transparency in financing options, negotiations and more clarity on dealer incentives and promotions.

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The 2023 Sportage Hybrid starts at around $28,000.

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Kia's moving full steam ahead to an all-electric future, but the automaker's intermediate models should not be overlooked. Kia and Hyundai do hybrids as well as anyone, and the 2023 Sportage Hybrid is coming soon with new tech, updated styling, and a value-forward price. The 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid goes on sale in spring.

2023 Kia Sportage HybridThe Sportage Hybrid delivers up to 39 mpg.Kia

Kia offers the Sportage hybrid in three trims: The $28,505 LX, $32,205 EX, and $37,405 SX-Prestige. All models come with a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine and a 44kW electric motor that combine to produce 226 horsepower. A six-speed automatic transmission with a rotary shifter is standard, and all-wheel drive become standard at the EX trim. The powertrain is efficient for an SUV, delivering up to 39 mpg when paired with front-wheel drive.

Kia says the Sportage Hybrid's interior features a 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen and a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster for almost 25 inches of display. Standard tech is generous, and includes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There's also plenty of safety tech. Kia adds standard gear that includes:

  • Driver attention warning system
  • LED headlights
  • Lane following assist and lane keep assist
  • Forward collision warnings with cyclist detection
  • Rear occupant alerts
  • Rearview monitor
  • Reverse parking distance warnings
Several optional features are available, including blind spot warnings, forward parking distance warnings, navigation-based cruise control, and more.

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2021 Honda Ridgeline
Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

The used car market is a tough place to be right now, as new vehicle shortages have driven big demand and big price increases across the board. Finding deals is harder than ever, and many models are being sold for nearly what it'd cost to buy them new. Certified pre-owned (CPO) cars can be a good alternative to new cars, and may be worth paying the price if you're desperate. Honda is looking to sweeten the deal by extending its CPO programto older vehicles. Called HondaTrue Used and Acura Precision Used, the program should attract younger buyers and people with stricter budgets.

Honda CPONo. 18 - Honda Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co. Inc.

It's important to note that Honda isn't slapping a 100,000-mile warranty onto a ten-year old car. The updated program includes coverage for 100 days or 5,000 miles on cars up to ten years old. That's a drop in the bucket compared to Honda's and Acura's traditional CPO vehicles, which get a seven-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. That said, the older cars still get a 112-point inspection. Parts are replaced or repaired as necessary before the sale.

Honda CPO2015 Honda Civic Sedan & Coupe Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

The move looks like a great one for buyers, who will get the opportunity to shop for older cars that still offer some degree of warranty coverage. Older models are less expensive but can be less reliable, so the addition of a manufacturer's backing makes buyers more comfortable and opens up more options to ease inventory shortages.

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