There are a lot of sources out there for finding vehicle information. Below are some links to help you find the information you need to make the right decision with your vehicle purchase.
Equipment and Options
Many manufacturers publish brochures that have information on all the equipment packages and options that are available for their vehicles. The easiest way to find these brochures is to search online for the year, make, and model of the vehicle with the keyword “brochure” (e.g. search for “2017 Ford Fusion Brochure”). You can also go to the manufacturer’s website or some third party sites to find vehicle brochures.
You can also “build” a vehicle on the website of most manufacturers. Many of these options to build a vehicle also ask for your contact information. If you enter this information, dealerships will try to contact you to try to sell you a vehicle similar to the one that you build out.
Window stickers won’t list all of the equipment on a vehicle. However, the window sticker will tell you a lot about the optional equipment and packages for a particular vehicle. In combination with a brochure from the manufacturer, you can use this information to find out what factory equipment a vehicle has. Aftermarket equipment will not show up on a factory window sticker.
You can get a window sticker for most manufacturers at the link below. Many dealerships also have window stickers for their vehicles on the dealership’s website. If we have an electronic window sticker for a vehicle at our dealership, you can find a link to the window sticker on the webpage for that vehicle.
Window stickers for most manufacturers ( costs about $5 for a window sticker)
For general vehicle ratings, there are typically two types of ratings used: professional reviewers and consumer surveys. These types are reviews can be helpful, but it is important to realize what these reviews are actually telling you. Consumer surveys show the average popularity with current owners. Professional reviews show the popularity of a vehicle with particular reviewers.
I personally don’t think reducing a vehicle to a single rating score or a couple rating scores is all that helpful. I find the write ups from professional reviewers to be much more informative. Not because I think a professional reviewer provides a better review, but because the write up explaining the why behind their scores is much more informative. The reality is that different drivers have different needs, wants, and preferences. One model vehicle selected as “the best” is not going to be the best vehicle for every driver.
JD Power (Consumer Surveys)
Consumer Reports (Professional Reviews Combined with Consumer Surveys)
Car and Driver (Professional Reviews)
Kelley Blue Book Reviews (Professional Reviews)
Edmunds Reviews (Professional Reviews)
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides information on fuel economy that is published by the Department of Energy (DOE). Vehicles are tested in a laboratory setting in which each vehicle performs the same driving routine. The results of these tests get printed on a new vehicle’s window sticker to display fuel economy for city, highway, and a combined number.
The two primary organizations that provide safety scores for vehicles are the NHTSA (which is a government organization) and the IIHS (which is a private non-profit organization). Ratings from NHTSA are printed on the window stickers of new vehicles in the US.
The two best known companies that report vehicle history are CARFAX and AutoCheck. Most dealerships will have a link to a CARFAX or AutoCheck report for the vehicles on their website. At Community Ford Lincoln of Bloomington, we currently have a link to the AutoCheck report for each of our vehicles. If the AutoCheck is missing from the website, anyone on our sales staff can get that report for you. We use AutoCheck since it tends to be better at reporting serious vehicle problems like accidents or title problems. CARFAX tends to be better at reporting the service history for vehicles, and even then most of the CARFAX reports I have seen either have an incomplete service history or it is missing altogether.
If you are having trouble finding the vehicle information you are looking for, feel free to give me a call at 812-331-2200 and ask for Robert Kobey.