Motor Trend


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The first issue of Motor Trend magazine was released in September 1949 by Peterson Publishing Company of Los Angeles, California. Today, with over 12 million unique visitors per month, is one of the leading sources of expert car reviews for new automobiles through its internationally distributed magazine, nationally broadcast television program, syndicated radio show, popular Web site, auto shows and ride and drives. 

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The Good

  • Wide range of content
  • New car buyer's guide
  • New Car Quote

Motor Trend magazine's wide array of content consists of different segments or departments, each with its own function. The ones that stand out are mentioned below.

Motor Trend releases a special edition of their new car buyer's guide every September and October listing the latest new vehicles. In September the issue looks at the latest cars (sedans, coupes, etc.) for the next coming calendar year, while in October the magazine looks at off-roaders, MPVs and sport-utility vehicles (SUVs).

The guide helps buyers narrow their selection down during the car buying process. All shoppers have to do is select a vehicle model to view the following:

  • complete car pricing,
  • current rebates and incentives
  • safety data
  • Miles per gallon(MPG) ranges
  • trim details and specs

Also offered for new cars is a New Car Quote tool. By plugging in car make, model, year and zip code, customers can get up front pricing without having to go into the dealership and be "hassled" by salespeople. Motor Trend also has a huge listing of used cars to choose from.

The magazine provides its readers with monthly written "road tests" of vehicles. These road tests are created to give readers information about the featured vehicle, certain aspects of the vehicle, and what the readers can expect if the featured vehicle is purchased.

There are two main types of Motor Trend vehicle comparisons:

  • Regular comparisons. This usually compares two to three vehicles, and what each is like to own and drive.
  • "Big Test" comparisons. These typically feature anywhere from five to seven vehicles, all being compared against one another, similar to a large road test featuring many vehicles rather than just one.

These comparisons are listed in Motor Trend's Editor's Picks list, where they give reviews of vehicles after test driving, along with other commentary.

Not only does Motor Trend list dealerships pertinent to each zip code, it also has begun The Motor Trend Certified Vehicles program. This program partners with qualified local dealers across the United States to offer the magazine's Certified branded CPO vehicles on all makes and models. By leveraging the nationally recognized Motor Trend Certified brand, customers can be assured that their vehicles have been inspected to meet Motor Trend's national standards.

Motor Trend Certified Vehicles include:

  • upgraded benefits from its partner EasyCare
  • including a minimum six month/7500 mile comprehensive warranty
  • key replacement and dent repair coverage
  • 72-Hour exchange policy
  • a Best Value Guarantee.

Motor Trend offers dealers in the program advanced digital technology that amplifies dealership reach and delivers a unique and relevant online consumer experience created to drive qualified leads to their showroom through Motor Trend's Certified digital platform, driven by PureCars™.

Participation is made available only to an elite group of dealers across the country who have been thoroughly vetted, and whose sales and service teams have been trained by EasyCare in accordance with the requirements of the program. EasyCare provides vehicle service contracts (frequently referred to as extended warranties), paintless dent repair, key replacement coverage, maintenance and more. It is the only vehicle warranty to be named a Recommended Best Buy by Motor Trend.

Before moving on, Motor Trend's auto lead generation program deserves a mention, offering a list of benefits for participating dealerships, including:

  • Leading customers directly to Dealer
  • Over 12 Million Unique Visitors
  • Top 5 Online Automotive Destination
  • Over 500,000 Vehicles on Display
  • Unlimited Inventory Advertising Packages
  • Other Lead Generation and Interactive Media Advertising Available
  • Only Targets Prospective Customers Who Said They Were Interested
  • Advertise to the Right People, at the Right Time, with the Right Message at a Discounted Price From the Website that Generated the Prospect

Dealerships interested in partnering with Motor Trend are able to fill out the online application form on the website.
Motor Trend is probably best known for its industry awards, the darling being the Car of the Year Award. This award is said to be the most coveted in the industry, along with their Car of the Year award, Truck of the Year award, and Sport Utility of the Year award. Since the first car was awarded in December 1949, the award has become an auto industry standard.

Although each part of the magazine has a different function, the overall goal is to provide authoritative automotive information and commentary to the widest demographic spectrum of buyers, enthusiasts and consumers.

The Bad

  • Slow website
  • Search function needs improvements
  • Lacking basic tools

Motor Trend's website is arguably the best online publication for auto information; however, one thing to improve would be site speed. The pages are slow to upload (at least on a PC). This can make looking up car listing information tedious. Another site issue seems to be finding search items. The search bar only pulls up keywords from its blog section. This is not convenient when searching for a phrase such as "Payment Calculator". Finding basic tools also falls under the "tedious" umbrella.

Surprisingly, the magazine website also lacks primary tools for car shoppers, particularly vehicle history, payment calculator and a trade-in value calculator. If these tools are on the website, they are neither visible nor easy to find, which is equally a minus. Like many of its competitors, Motor Trend's apps are average    (with a 3 star rating), rife with technical glitches.

The Bottom Line

With almost a 65- year- history in the automotive publishing genre, Motor Trend has become the trend for all things cars. Although it provides used car listings galore, its main specialty is its biannual new car guide with new car recommendations, test drives and prestigious Car of the year awards. So if you're looking for a new car, this would be a go-to reference to utilize. (Just know there is no payment calculator, trade-in value app or vehicle history tool). The apps could use some work and the site a speed check, but the Motor Trend brand name does a great service for dealers and seems to standardize, legitimize and upgrade anything it touches.

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