Researching New Cars

Best Sources Of General Information About New Vehicles

Manufacturers' Web sites offer general information about their makes and models but this information is not objective. Dealerships don't offer objective information, either. Use these sources for descriptive information about particular vehicles, if you wish, but consult one of the following sites for objective information.

Consumer Reports

The best, most objective source for hard, accurate information about specific vehicles and pricing. Though Consumer Reports makes mistakes at times, it almost always errs on the consumer's side rather than a manufacturer's or dealer's side. Subscribe online to their reports on all products for $6.95 a month (renewed automatically unless cancelled) or $35 a year. Highly recommended. Information included: current rebates, unadvertised dealer incentives and holdbacks, accurate dealer "invoice" (cost) figures, safety ratings from CR's own tests, and a list of alternative vehicles.

Their print pricing guides have been an accurate source of dealer "invoice" (cost) figures for many years. Online, they offer a range of information, but no independent tests. Be cautious in using related services or responding to site advertising links-ignoring them is recommended.

Offers generally good and unbiased information and stories on both new and used vehicles.

Safety Information On New Vehicles

National Traffic and Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA)

Provides vehicle ratings based on crash tests performed by NHTSA, information on recalls, and information on a range of other safety topics such as airbags and child safety seats. Numerous links to other safety information.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Provides vehicle safety ratings based on its own crash tests. Uniquely it provides 40 mph frontal offset tests that closely simulate a common type of actual highway crash. The site provides information on numerous other automotive and highway safety issues and links to other good sources of safety information.

The Center for Auto Safety

Provides breaking news stories on automotive safety issues, information on lemon laws, action alerts, and other safety related articles and links. Consumer oriented and supported.

Recommended Pricing Guides For New Vehicles

Many sites say or imply that they can provide the accurate dealer "invoice" or cost to the dealer of a new vehicle. Many are highly inaccurate. Stick to one of these services.

Consumer Reports

Subscribe to complete access to their online reports, pricing guides, and ratings for $6.95 a month or $35 a year. If you are serious about accuracy and no hype while shopping, this is a deal.

Provides "base cost" or "invoice cost" and "MSRP" for new vehicles at no cost. Generally accurate and an easy way to do a quick check on any vehicle you're considering. Go to Consumer Reports when you get serious.

Edmunds also offers a figure they call "True Market Value" or TMV, which they claim to be the best current deal in the marketplace. I advise ignoring this figure and bargaining up from dealer cost. Be cautious in using related services or responding to site advertising links-ignoring them is recommended.