How to Research New Cars and Find Best Prices

Vehicle research is a crucial step in the car buying process since its purpose is to give you as much knowledge about your potential purchase as possible. It is undoubtedly a lengthy endeavour, especially for anyone who prefers to be thorough, but it is a worthy one all the same. Here are the steps you should take and the resources you should use.

Step #1: Create a Comprehensive Vehicle List

Before you research anything, you need to know what you are researching. After all, knowing that you are researching “cars” will not do you much good since it is a very broad term, which means that you need to limit yourself in some way. If you have created a car budget and selected a vehicle type, then you already have all the limitations you need.

One of the easiest ways to create the list is by visiting the deals page, which does all the work for you.

First, click on your preferred vehicle type:

Then use the slider to set your budget:

Be sure to be as precise as possible when it comes to setting your budget, because otherwise you may end up with a very long list. Keep in mind that the monthly amount displayed on this page does not account for ownership costs, which means that you have to account for them yourself. A good rule of thumb is to add $500 to your monthly loan payment to infer fees like insurance, fuel and maintenance, though you may end up spending either more or less, depending on your vehicle type, driving habits and demographic. You can learn how to calculate ownership costs here.

Step #2: Shorten the List

You may notice that, despite your best efforts, the list you have created is still relatively long. Your best bet is to take a quick look at each vehicle individually to see if they fit your size expectations. Hatchbacks can be particularly tricky in this department since they come in many different sizes.

The easiest way to determine size is by looking at the amount of seats and doors on each vehicle. For instance, if you want a four-seat hatchback with five doors, then cross out every single vehicle that doesn’t fit the description, because you they are not what you are looking for.

You can use manufacturer websites to look up this information. Simply type the year, make and model of each car on your list in Google search and you should be able to see the manufacturer you are looking for, as shown in the following example:

Alternatively, you can access this information by clicking on vehicle brands at the bottom of the homepage:

Dimensions can also help you determine the size of each vehicle, but you need to understand what they mean. So, if you cannot picture a 30-cubic-foot cargo compartment, then raw numbers like these would be useless to you.In this case, move on to the next step.

Step #3: Read Reviews

Vehicle reviews in magazines and other journalistic sources are the best source of accurate yet consumer-friendly information. For instance, if you are not sure how big a 30-cubic-foot cargo area is, a good review should be able to clarify that. In fact, if you want to be truly thorough, you can search up video reviews, which tend to walk you through every square inch of a vehicle. It is always a good idea to rely on multiple review sources (two or three per vehicle) in order to grasp the general consensus.

If you are not sure what aspects of a vehicle you should research, read this article.

Websites You Can Use:



NOTE: When using American review sites, keep in mind that there are certain differences. For instance, Americans measure fuel economy in miles per gallon (mpg), while Canadians measure it in litres per 100 kilometres (L/100km). Other discrepancies include pricing as well as model and trim names. As such, it is always a good idea to rely on Canadian sources for raw data like this and use American sites only toobtain additional opinions.

Step #4: Use Specialized Sources

There are certain aspects of a vehicle that many reviews do not cover in-depth, such as pricing, safety and depreciation. If you want to know how they might affect your potential vehicle, then you need to use sources that specialise in those areas.

  • Pricing: To find a detailed breakdown of pricing for each vehicle, with various trims and packages taken into account, you should use our free dealer cost report. It allows you to configure a vehicle however you like and then show you how much it would cost.
  • Safety: You can look up safety features here at or on manufacturer websites. To learn more about recalls, we suggest using, which provides this information on every vehicle. For crash test ratings and safety news, consult
  • Depreciation:If you are planning to resell a vehicle sometime in the future, then you may want to find out how much it will be worth. You can find this information on

Step #5: Collect Non-Expert Opinions to Fill in the Gaps

If you want to gain even more perspective or clarify a few details, you can always talk to your friends and family members or make a few inquiries on message boards. Not all of these opinions will be reliable, but a few personal stories could definitely help you out. This is especially useful when you need an opinion on something specific, like handling or interior comfort.

Be sure to avoid asking vague questions that will not get you any useful information and substitute them with something more in-depth. For instance, instead of asking what the cabin is like, probe a little further and ask about the functions of the infotainment system or the comfort level of the second-row seats – whatever you think is relevant.

Note that you should not use these opinions as a substitute to reviews and manufacturer specs because you may not obtain all the information you need.

Step #6: Make Notes

Make sure to take notes of review scores and other attributes that you deem necessary. For instance, if a certain vehicle has received too many recalls, then you may want to write that down. If it has received an overwhelmingly optimistic reaction regarding a feature that you need, then you should note that too. Ideally, you should keep track of every vehicle aspect that seems relevant.

The reason to make these notes is to create an even shorter vehicle list that you can use to inspect the vehicles in person – but more on that later.

Conducting the Actual Research

Make sure your research benefits you in the best way possible by prioritizing the vehicle aspects that matter to you the most. You can learn how to do that in this article.

What to Do Next

Once you are done doing your research, it’s time to compare all the vehicles and their attributes and create a shortlist.