Jeff Barr's Blog

Things I Like..

Online Car Shopping

I’ve been browser-shopping for a new car, and I have to say that many of the online shopping sites could use some help. Most of the sites assume that you know what car you are looking for before you get there, and provide little in the way of comparison matrixes, multi-dimensional searches or grouping within a vehicle type.

I started shopping without knowing what kind of car I wanted, how much I wanted to pay, or what features I needed.

Despite the money they’ve spent on TV advertising, I found the Vehix site very painful to use. There was no “man in the box”, and the Flash-powered UI was distractingly rich. Also, once I choose a make and model, I couldn’t go back one step. I had to reset the selector in order to continue. Very poor, especially for a Flash application.

CarsDirect was slightly better, with some decent buying guides.

I thought that some of the Toyota models looked interesting, and spent some time pricing out a Matrix. Then I found this very helpful comparison chart:

At a glance I was able to see all of the models and prices, and I learned a lot about Toyota’s entire product line very quickly. By clicking on the left I could have sorted the chart by MPG ratings or by the number of passengers.

This big-picture overview was just what I needed to get started. Nicely done, Toyota!