8 great websites for researching cars before you buy

Kathryn Hawkins

With the exception of your home, a car is likely to be the most expensive purchase you make. Therefore, it makes sense to put a lot of time into researching makes and models to find out which one is best for you and determine a fair price for that vehicle — well before you head to the dealership for a test drive.

Here are eight of the best websites for finding heavily researched, unbiased news and reviews about new and used cars.

Edmunds.com

Founded in 1966 as a print publication, Edmunds since has made a full transition to the web, offering expert automotive reviews; consumer reviews; pricing data; and news articles about car buying, automotive trends and driving safety. One of the site’s coolest features is “Meet Your Match,” an online dating-style quiz that will help you find your ideal vehicle, based on answers to a series of questions.

MotorMouths.com

Much like Rotten Tomatoes does for movies, Motor Mouths aggregates dozens of reviews of cars and comes up with an average score for each one. You can browse the best-reviewed vehicle lists, search for a specific car type and click through to each critic’s full review on another site. The site makes it easy to ensure you’re getting an accurate view of each vehicle by delivering access to an array of reviews.

Autoblog

Autoblog is an AOL-owned website that focuses on the latest auto industry news, from auto shows to emerging green technology to car-related startups. The site features a comprehensive vehicle review section that includes first-person evaluations of the latest models, often including video. You also can visit the section for the specific automaker you’re interested in learning about — a handy feature that can help you determine whether it’s worth waiting for next year’s model or buying this year’s.

CarSurvey.org

If you trust your fellow drivers more than the experts, this is the site for you. CarSurvey.org features more than 100,000 user reviews for cars from hundreds of manufacturers. Reviewers can share general thoughts on the car, problems they’ve faced, and thoughts on dealer service, performance, comfort and other factors. You also can comment on each review to ask the reviewer for more details or can chime in with your own opinion.

ConsumerReports.org

Consumer Reports has long been a trusted source of unbiased reviews on a wide variety of products, including new and used cars. Access to much of the site’s detailed analysis costs $30 a year, but you’ll be able to scan all of Consumer Reports’ research, including road test results, safety information, reliability and owner satisfaction ratings.

U.S. News Best Cars

The leader in college rankings also publishes a comprehensive car-ranking section, with grades based on size and style. You can read lists for cars, SUVs, trucks, vans and hybrids, or you can check out vehicles in categories like “Best Cars for the Money” and “Best Cars for Families.” Although U.S. News & World Report writers don’t test-drive the vehicles themselves, they offer comprehensive summaries of the strengths and weaknesses of each car, based on aggregated feedback from other publications.

Kelley Blue Book

Kelley Blue Book is a widely trusted resource for determining the fair market value of a new or used vehicle, depending on its condition. But you may not have known that it’s also a fantastic resource for expert automotive reviews. The site offers both video and written reviews, with features such as “10 Great Cars for Winter” and “The 40 mpg Cars of 2013.” And, if you’re buying a used vehicle, the site’s used car section can help you tell whether a potential purchase is a rip-off or a great deal.

Jalopnik

Jalopnik’s blog-style format can make it difficult to find the car reviews amid the constant updates, but the site has them in abundance. Jalopnik writers tend to use the sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek style common to the rest of the Gawker Media blogs, so if you’re looking for a funnier take on cars, you’re in the right place. Reviewers test-drive cars and rate them on features such as exterior, interior, acceleration, gearbox and “toys” (referring primarily to built-in tech features). The site also features less conventional reviews. For instance, if you want to know what it’s like to test-drive an auto rickshaw in Delhi, here’s your answer.

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