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Savvy shoppers get lowdown online on new and used cars

Car dealers, industry experts and customers themselves will tell you: Shoppers more than ever bone up on the vehicles they want, and the Internet is a prime source of information. • In other words, the most searched-for cars and trucks on notable online sites, whether brand new models or pre-owned vehicles, can also be the autos that people eventually acquire. One Web site, Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com, recently named its top-researched new vehicles for 2008, while CarMax auto superstore's online site picked the leaders for used cars.

"The site traffic on Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com demonstrates what is on the minds of today's new-car shoppers," said Jack R. Nerad, executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book and kbb.com.

"Continued interest in Honda and Toyota, Chevrolet's home-run Malibu redesign and an increase in visits to more fuel-efficient, economical vehicles is an accurate reflection of the marketplace in 2008," he said.

A few cars made big leaps up the research ladder, such as the Malibu jumping from 72nd place to 17th. Also cracking the top 20 were the Jetta, Toyota Yaris and Honda Fit.

Subcompacts such as the Fit and Yaris moved up, fueled by record high gas prices earlier in 2008. The fuel-efficient Toyota Corolla, Toyota Prius hybrid, Mazda3 and Ford Escape were all highly searched.

Honda's popular Civic and Accord models and the Toyota Camry have been the top three most-researched new vehicles on kbb.com each year since 2004. Because kbb.com is one of the most trafficked automotive research sites, visits to specific vehicles has become a leading indicator of sales patterns for manufacturers, according to the Irvine, Calif., company.

Among used cars, seven of the 10 vehicles on the carmax.com list were Nissans, Hondas or Toyotas. Domestic models were the Mustang, F-150 and Tahoe. The Honda Accord placed at the top for the third straight year.

"This list shows the interesting variety of makes and models our customers are researching when shopping online for a quality used car," said Ann Yauger, director of carmax.com.

The Web site of Richmond, Va.-based CarMax lists information on vehicles including price, features, options, fuel economy and customer reviews. There are also multiple photos.

Most-searched cars in 2008

New

1. Honda Civic

2. Honda Accord

3. Toyota Camry

4. Toyota Corolla

5. Nissan Altima

6. Honda CR-V

7. Toyota Prius

8. Toyota Highlander

9. Toyota RAV4

10. Mazda3

11. Toyota Yaris

12. Ford Escape

13. Honda Odyssey

14. Honda Pilot

15. Honda Fit

16. Ford Mustang

17. Chevrolet Malibu

18. Toyota Sienna

19. MINI Cooper

20. Volkswagen Jetta

Used

1. Honda Accord

2. Honda Civic

3. Toyota Camry

4. Ford Mustang

5. Nissan Altima

6. Chevrolet Tahoe

7. Ford F-150

8. Toyota Corolla

9. Toyota Tacoma

10. Nissan Maxima

Savvy shoppers get lowdown online on new and used cars 02/05/09 [Last modified: Thursday, February 5, 2009 1:06pm]
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