February 1, 2011
In virtually any auto show of which AutoTrader.com is a part, the AutoTrader.com display sits at the juncture of automotive dreams and fiscal reality. And few know fiscal reality quite like an automotive journalist, one whose dreams are fueled by press trips and press cars, and whose reality is steeped in freelance checks and self-employment taxes. Eventually, however, even automotive scribes need to buy a car, and since I’m standing at this juncture, and the AutoTrader.com display is immediately in front of me, we plunge ahead.
Greeting me at the booth is an attractive and professional young woman, Celeste Flummer. She is more than happy to take me through the AutoTrader.com New Car Adviser process. It couldn’t be simpler: I describe, via the keyboard, my wants, needs and budget, and the New Car Advisor dispenses a selection of automobiles best suited to my stated desires. Given Celeste’s confidence in the approach, I’m ready to nominate the New Car Adviser to Congress.
I’m fairly wide open, and don’t discriminate by brand. In short, “show me what you’ve got” tends to be my car-buying mantra. After indicating my interest in a second car for both recreation and transportation, we need to define ‘recreation’. It’s not the ‘sleeping bag in back and tent on top’ type, but rather a car that’s fun to drive while maintaining a semblance of day-to-day practicality. With Celeste’s help I start answering questions, and after but a few minutes of box-filling and booth-type chatter (my rather awkward attempt at bridging the generation gap) out comes the result; it’s five pages and seventeen automotive choices.
To spare you the details, I won’t go into all of the options. But with a strong stated preference for “comfort, control and access” the New Car Advisor suggested Audi A3 (TDI or conventional four cylinder), followed by Subaru’s WRX, VW’s GTI and Volvo’s C30. And since this report is issued right there at the show – in PRINT – I can use it as a shopping tool while viewing the cars on display.
Jasmine Major and her mother Keisha are looking for a sporty two-door as a graduation gift for 17-year old Jasmine. Jasmine got exactly what she wanted – a choice between Nissan’s Altima 2-door, Hyundai’s Genesis coupe or the Camaro V6. According to Keisha, “everything we inputted resulted in the desired choices.” To be sure, Jasmine still needs to graduate, and if they’re considering Camaro they might want to check insurance rates, but the New Car Advisor not only provided an assist, but gave them a documented validation of their needs and wants.
The process gives you, as AutoTrader.com suggests, the ability to find “the car your heart and mind can agree on.”
DAVID BOLDT began his automotive career in BMW and Saab showrooms in the 1980s, and he moved to automotive journalism in 1993. David has written for a variety of regional and national publications, and prior to joining AutoTrader, he managed media relations for a Japanese OEM.