Dealer Satisfaction Rebounds

Shorter buying times are key to improved scores, reports Cox Automotive.

Nancy Dunham, Principal Analyst/Retail

January 22, 2024

2 Min Read
Cox Automotive's surveys show buyers want short, seamless buying experiences.Getty Images

Dealers are making headway toward improved customer satisfaction.

The 2023 Cox Automotive Car Buyer Journey Study shows satisfaction with new- and used-vehicle shopping and buying improved in 2023 after declining in 2021 and 2022.

“There is an often-cited narrative that suggests going to a car dealer is worse than a root canal,” says Isabelle Helms, vice president of research and market intelligence at Cox Automotive. “Our research and data, however, suggest that this is simply not the case. In fact, 79% of new-vehicle buyers were highly satisfied with the experience provided by their local automobile dealer.”

Cox Automotive analysts suggest shorter car buying times were vital to improved satisfaction scores. New-car buyers spent approximately 11 hours and 45 minutes during their car buying journey -- from research to shopping to closing the deal -- down more than 80 minutes from the prior year. In comparison, used-vehicle buyers reported spending more than 14 hours, a one-hour decrease.

Here are some of the other study findings:

  • The 2023 study shows 69% of respondents were highly satisfied with the car buying process vs. 61% in 2022. The numbers for new-car buyers grew from 70% in 2022 to 73% in 2023. Used-car buyer satisfaction rose from 58% in 2022 to 68% in 2023.

  • New-vehicle survey respondents rated retail satisfaction at 79%, matching the all-time high from 2020. Specific areas of increased satisfaction: test drive experience, 82%; vehicle pick-up and delivery, 79%; and sales team interaction, 77%. 

  • The average household income of new-vehicle buyers was $115,000. Used-vehicle buyers had average household incomes of $96,000. 

  • Sticker shock appears to have eased in 2023. Just under half of buyers (49%) report paying more than expected compared to 54% in 2022. 

  • Buyers indicated a preference for omnichannel purchases. Just 7% of 2023 survey respondents completed 100% of the steps online. While half (50%) completed all car buying steps in person, 43% completed steps in a mix of online and in-person dealership visits. Most respondents (71%) preferred an omnichannel sales experience – combining in-person and online processes – for their next purchase.

“Year after year, our studies suggest that consumers are not pursuing an entirely digital experience,” says Vanessa Ton, Cox Automotive senior manager of market and customer research. “Rather, we believe car buyers want a seamless experience where they can start the process at home, shop, fill out any required forms and then go to the dealership, test drive a car, complete the deal and learn about their new purchase.”


About the Author(s)

Nancy Dunham

Principal Analyst/Retail, WardsAuto

Nancy Dunham is a former staff member or contributor to NADA publications, US News & World Report, Automotive News, MotorTrend and other automotive and general interest publications.
Contact her at [email protected] or

Subscribe to a WardsAuto newsletter today!
Get the latest automotive news delivered daily or weekly. With 5 newsletters to choose from, each curated by our Editors, you can decide what matters to you most.

You May Also Like