Press Release

Visual Web, Minimalist Navigation Tools Drive Increases in Shopper Satisfaction with Third-Party Automotive Websites, Says J.D. Power

Third-Party Auto Sites Continue to Lag Behind Manufacturer Sites in Overall Look and Feel

TrueCar Ranks Highest among Third-Party Automotive Websites, Followed by CARFAX and

New York: 24 March 2016 — Third-party automotive websites are improving satisfaction by capturing the attention of car shoppers through increased use of the visual Web and its streamlined approach to site navigation, according to the J.D. Power 2016 Third-Party Automotive Website Evaluation Study,SM released today.

The study, now in its fourth year, measures the usefulness of automotive third-party websites during the new- and used-vehicle shopping process by examining four key measures (in order of importance): information/content; appearance; navigation; and speed. Satisfaction is measured on a 1,000-point scale.

While the impact of appearance on third-party auto website satisfaction has increased at a steady pace to 24% in 2016 from 21% in 2013, there exists a significant 83-point gap in satisfaction between third-party sites and manufacturer (OEM[1]) sites (742 vs. 825, respectively).  Appearance is the highest-scoring measure for auto manufacturer sites and second lowest for third-party sites.

“The common bond among top-performing third-party auto sites is a heavy reliance on the ‘visual Web,’ with its very streamlined, easy-to-use site navigation features,” said Arianne Walker, senior director of marketing analytics at J.D. Power. “Expectations continue to increase not only because auto manufacturers have such visually stimulating sites but because websites in many categories have focused on enhancing visual aesthetics and easy navigation. If third-party sites want to maintain and increase their usage among shoppers, they need to consider the impact appearance has on satisfaction and continually work to improve the look and feel of the website to keep up with the ever changing expectations of shoppers.”

Following are the key findings of the 2016 study:

  • Visual Web Influences Site Preference: The study finds that the highest-scoring third-party auto websites employ heavy use of visual Web design elements such as edge-to-edge imagery, cleaner spacing and aesthetically pleasing call-to-action colors.
  • Expert Reviews Must Cover the Basics: Content is king when it comes to satisfying shoppers on third-party sites, which includes ratings and reviews. Shoppers indicate the most important content to cover in an expert review is safety (38%), performance (24%) and functionality (11%).
  • Satisfaction Drives Loyalty and Advocacy: The study finds that 83% of highly satisfied shoppers (overall satisfaction scores of 901 or higher) using third-party websites say they “definitely will” return to the website in the future, and 81% say they “definitely will” recommend the site, while only 3% of displeased shoppers (scores of 500 or less) say they “definitely will” return and only 2% say they “definitely will” recommend.

Study Rankings

In 2016, overall satisfaction with automotive third-party websites averages 751. TrueCar ranks highest (795), followed by CARFAX (793) and (775).

The 2016 Third-Party Automotive Website Evaluation Study is based on evaluations from more than 5,000 new- and used-vehicle shoppers who indicate they will be in the market for a vehicle within the next 24 months. The study was fielded in January 2016.

Websites evaluated in the study were selected based on meeting the following criteria: must be an automotive third-party site; have the ability for consumers to shop for both new and used vehicles; and be among the most frequently visited sites based on behavioral data.

Media Relations Contacts

John Tews; Troy, Mich.; (248) 680-6218; [email protected]

For more information about the 2016 Third-Party Automotive Website Evaluation Study, visit

See the online Press Release at

About J.D. Power and Advertising/Promotional Rules

About McGraw Hill Financial 

[1] J.D. Power 2016 Manufacturer Website Evaluation StudySM—Winter