Nearly three-quarters of new car buyers go online to get an idea of what their trade-in vehicle is worth prior to going to the dealership, and almost two-thirds of those estimates are accurate, according to a recent survey conducted for Automotive News. In other words, about half of all car buyers walk into a dealership with a rough understanding of what their car is worth.
While an expected trade-in haggle is considered a major source of pre-purchase anxiety, the new data suggests much of that tension is rooted in expectation. According to the survey, 65 percent of those who checked the value of their car online wound up getting a similar number from the dealership when they walked in.
The study looked at the customers’ experience at dealerships of various brands, but doesn’t indicate which brand of vehicle was being traded in. As a result, this is less a study of the value of cars as it is a look into customer service at dealerships of different brands.
Interestingly, the numbers varied greatly by brand, both in terms of the percentage of shoppers evaluating pricing online, and in the accuracy of those evaluations. Luxury brands led the way, with 81 percent of Acura and Lexus buyers going online first. At the bottom end, just 63 percent of Nissan buyers did the same, and 64 percent of Kia shoppers.
Among shoppers who went online first but were offered a different price, the data doesn’t reflect any discernible trend. Just three percent of BMW evaluations differed substantially from the dealership’s offer, something that happened at 17 percent of Cadillac dealerships.
By contrast, not going online first resulted in a better overall experience for some brands, particularly Nissan and Honda, where customers were seven percent more likely to have a positive experience if they didn’t look online first. At BMW and Mercedes-Benz dealers, by contrast, there is an industry-worst 14 and 15 percent chance of an unpleasant haggling experience if the shopper doesn’t check pricing online first.
Overall, however the numbers are fairly positive. 95 percent of all Audi customers were satisfied with their trade-in value, which edged out Subaru for top honors. Cadillac, which came in last of the twenty brands included in the survey, still notched an 86 percent satisfaction rate.
The Continental GT returns for 2018 with a reduced lineup of only convertibles as a new coupe is due to arrive as an early 2019 model. The V-8 engine is dropped, leaving only the W-12. We rate the 2018 Bentley Continental GT a 6.8 out of 10 for its timeless appeal as a luxury grand tourer with lots of power, a hand-built feel, all-wheel-drive traction, and stunning looks. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The 2018 Bentley Continental lineup of droptops consists of just the GT, the GT Speed, and, new for 2018, the Supersports. All have the W-12 engine, but it is offered in three states of tune. It makes 568 horsepower in the GT, 615 in the GT Speed, and 700 in the Supersports. All models are fast, and the Supersports can reach 60 mph from a stop in less than 4.0 seconds and top out near 200 mph.
In addition to the new Supersports, Bentley introduces a new limited-edition Timeless Series this year, which adds luxury feature content by Mulliner and a Liquid Amber Veneer paint finish.
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The Continental is a big car that weighs close to three tons, but it wears its heft well and looks trimmer than it is. It has the style of a classic grand touring car, with rounded, soft lines and round headlights offset by the sharpness of its side character lines and the lines that define its rear haunches. The convertible top is a high-quality cloth unit that opens or closes in 25 seconds, shuts out the elements well, and further enhances the classic look.
Inside, it’s pure luxury, with an upright design complimented by warm woods, soft leathers, and cold metals. The personality of each individual car is defined by its color palette, though all cars have the look and feel of a handcrafted cabin.
Front seat occupants have good headroom and legroom, but elbow space can be tight. Rear seat occupants are pushed together by the needs of the top mechanism and they will want for legroom.
On the road, the Continental GT wears its weight well, too. Power from the W-12 is effortless and the car just flows in a straight line, but it also maintains traction when the roads aren’t dry thanks to standard all-wheel drive. Computer controlled dampers help it both ride well and excel in high-speed sweepers. The weight is most noticeable when pushing the car into tight corners.
Every Continental GT comes well equipped, and Bentley offers a variety of packages to turn up the luxury and let buyers personalize their cars.
This generation of the Continental GT hasn’t been crash tested and doesn’t offer the active safety features that have become common on mainstream cars, let alone high-end luxury cars. With a redesign on the way, that should change soon.
What’s a full-size sedan to do when it’s not supposed to be a luxury car?
The 2018 Kia Cadenza tackles that big-car conundrum with grace and finesse, even if it doesn’t have a definitive answer. It has luxury features, big spread-out space, and softly tuned handling, and that makes it a less expensive and better car in some ways than Kia’s pricier K900. Awkward much?
Sold in Premium, Technology, and Limited trim, the 2018 Cadenza merits a score of 7.4 on our scale, with kudos for its features and its comfort. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
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With the Cadenza, Kia breaks no new ground. Thankfully it also doesn’t merely copy and scale up its other sedans. The Cadenza has a pleasant if not daring shape, one that’s made more lively with details like a concave grille and LED lighting. The interior’s a familiar wing-shaped affair for those attuned to head designer Peter Schreyer’s efforts, and it’s a nice place to be, especially when trimmed in nappa leather and suede.
Performance issues from a 290-horsepower V-6, an 8-speed automatic, responsive brakes, 19-inch wheels and tires, and an independent suspension. It sounds a lot like Buick’s LaCrosse on paper, but while that four-door has turned up the stiffness on all its driving systems, the Cadenza keeps things calm and loose. Handling is composed but a bit fluffy, the powertrain’s all but invisible in its action. The sole noticeable deviance from big-car norms is overly heavy steering.
The Cadenza’s big interior space suits as many as five adults, without intruding too much on personal space. Diamond-quilted stitching elevates the top versions, but even the Premium model has leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, and a big trunk. It lacks the finishing touches you’d find on a K900, like massaging seats, but will you really miss that for tens of thousands less?
Crash-test data is incomplete, and Kia walls off its best safety technology on the more expensive trims. A rearview camera is standard. Other features found on the options list include wireless smartphone charging, a simple infotainment system with navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a panoramic sunroof.