How Many Shoppers Skip The Test Drive? More Than You Think

August 13, 2012

Everyone knows that most consumers begin researching their next ride online (or, if you're lucky, in a swanky digital showroom). But do you have so much faith in your web-based legwork that you'd be willing to forego the test drive altogether? 

A surprising number of Americans do -- and that number is even higher in Canada.

The news comes from a study conducted by Maritz Research, reported by the Detroit Free Press. Maritz surveyed 80,219 Americans who recently purchased 2012 model-year cars. And when all the votes were in, the pollsters discovered that 11.4% of respondents didn't take a test-drive.

That's shocking, right? It breaks one of the sacred rules passed down to us from our parents: try before you buy. To spend thousands of dollars on a new vehicle without taking it for a spin around the block seems crazy.

But American crazy pales in comparison to the wacky behavior of our neighbors to the north. In Canada, Maritz conducted a similar survey, which revealed that a staggering 26% of Canadian shoppers skipped the test drive.

What's going on here?

Unfortunately, this is the first year that Maritz has asked the test-drive question, so we don't have any previous figures to compare. However, many people who see these stats will assume that Millennials are to blame. After all, they're the ones who hate shopping for cars, so naturally, they're less likely to spend time at dealerships, right? 

But some on the TCC staff have a very different hunch -- one that points the finger at Baby Boomers and their parents, the Silent Generation. Those older shoppers have spent years on the road, and they've developed very specific opinions about makes and models. When you've been driving Chevrolets for 40 or 50 years, test drives can seem pointless. After all, it's not as if it's going to change your mind. 

(Note: my father has driven Ford F-150s for most of his adult life. I've never seen him take a test drive.)

Are you one of the 11.4% who duck out on the test drive? Or would that be ludicrous? Who's skipping out? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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