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Does appearance matter when buying a car?

The right car is the one 'that enhances your life, not just your image.'

15 Apr '24
10 min read


In the mesmerizing world of automobiles, where metal meets the road and dreams take flight, a question lingers: Does appearance truly matter when buying a car? This query invites us to embark on a thought-provoking exploration, one that transcends the superficial and delves into the heart of what truly defines a vehicle's worth.

As we navigate the winding roads of this discourse, let us embrace a unique perspective – one that resonates with the visually impaired community, whose experiences offer invaluable insights into the multisensory tapestry of car ownership. For them, the allure of a vehicle extends far beyond its aesthetic appeal, unveiling a world where sound, touch, and intuition converge to create an unparalleled symphony of sensations.

In the grand theater of car buying, appearances often steal the show. But beneath the glitzy surface lies a deeper narrative that can shape our choices in unexpected ways. 

Have you ever wondered if appearance truly matters when selecting your dream ride? Join us on a journey through the labyrinth of automotive aesthetics, where we'll explore the untold stories, unveil surprising statistics, and empower you to navigate this terrain with confidence and clarity.

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Did You Know? 

  • Blind individuals have an extraordinary ability to perceive the world through their remaining senses, often developing heightened awareness and sensitivity to subtle nuances that most overlook. This remarkable adaptation allows them to appreciate the true essence of a car, unencumbered by the distractions of visual stimuli.
  • According to a recent study by Consumer Reports, a staggering 73% of car buyers consider the exterior design to be a crucial factor in their purchasing decision? It's not just about the sleek curves or bold grilles; it's about the statement your car makes about who you are. From luxury sedans to rugged SUVs, every vehicle tells a story, and its appearance sets the stage for that narrative.

But appearances can be deceiving. While a flashy exterior may turn heads, it's what's under the hood that truly matters. Performance, reliability, and safety should never take a backseat to style. 

In fact, a survey conducted by J.D. Power revealed that 82% of car owners prioritize reliability over exterior design when considering a new vehicle. It's a reminder that substance should always trump style.

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Bonus Tips

  • Embrace the power of sound: Listen intently to the purr of the engine, the whisper of the tires on the road, and the subtle nuances that reveal a car's character.
  • Engage your sense of touch: Explore the textures, materials, and ergonomics that define the interior space, ensuring both comfort and functionality.
  • Trust your intuition: Rely on your instincts and the overall "feel" of the vehicle, as it can often unveil truths that go beyond mere appearances.
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Case Study

Deepak's Enlightened Pursuit Deepak's love affair with automobiles began at a tender age, when the rumbling engines and distinctive exhaust notes of passing cars ignited a spark within him. As he grew older, his curiosity only intensified, driving him to explore the intricate world of automotive engineering and design.

For Deepak, the process of buying a car was never about the superficial allure of sleek lines or flashy paint jobs. Instead, it was a holistic journey, a symphony of sensations that transcended the visual realm. With each test drive, he would meticulously analyze the car's acoustics, the way the engine responded to his touch, and the overall harmony of its components.

"When I step into a car, it's as if the vehicle comes alive, whispering its secrets to me through a language only my senses can decipher,"  Deepak mused. 

"The gentle vibrations of the chassis, the tactile feedback of the steering wheel, and the symphony of sounds that accompany every acceleration and deceleration – these are the true markers of a car's character."

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Guidance Roadmap

Deepak's Enlightened Approach Inspired by Deepak's enlightened perspective, let us embark on a transformative journey, one that empowers us to appreciate the multifaceted nature of car buying:

Attune your senses: Cultivate a heightened awareness of the auditory and tactile experiences that a car offers, from the gentle hum of the engine to the supple embrace of the seats.

Embrace ergonomics: Prioritize comfort and functionality, ensuring that the car's interior layout and controls seamlessly integrate with your unique needs and preferences.

Seek harmony: Look beyond the superficial and strive to discern the harmonious interplay of a car's components, where each element contributes to a cohesive and engaging driving experience.

Value longevity: Appearances may fade, but a well-engineered and meticulously crafted car can withstand the test of time, providing years of reliable service and cherished memories.

Follow Deepak's lead by prioritizing substance over style. Define your budget, assess your practical needs, and research different makes and models that meet your criteria. 

Don't be swayed by trends or external pressures—choose the car that best serves your lifestyle and long-term goals.

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Be Aware 

While the allure of sleek designs and eye-catching aesthetics can be compelling, it is crucial to remain vigilant against the allure of marketing gimmicks and superficial promises. Resist the temptation to be swayed solely by appearances, and instead, cultivate a discerning eye (or ear, or touch) for the true essence of automotive quality.

Beware of falling into the trap of superficiality. Don't let flashy advertisements or peer pressure dictate your decision. Take the time to test drive different models, research consumer reviews, and consult with trusted experts before making a commitment. 

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Caution - Falling Victim to Advertisement Gimmicks 

In the competitive world of automotive marketing, manufacturers often employ tactics that prioritize visual appeal over substance. Flashy advertisements, cleverly staged photoshoots, and carefully curated showroom displays can create a distorted perception of a car's true capabilities and quality.

To avoid falling victim to these gimmicks, it is essential to maintain a critical eye and rely on reputable sources of information, such as independent reviews, expert opinions, and firsthand accounts from owners. Embrace a holistic approach to car buying, one that considers not just the aesthetics but also the vehicle's performance, reliability, and overall value proposition.

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Bonus Tip

  • Seek out knowledgeable and trustworthy automotive professionals who can guide you through the intricacies of car buying, offering impartial advice and insights that transcend the superficial realm of appearances.
  • Before falling for the allure of a sleek exterior, do your research. Look beyond the surface and prioritize factors like safety ratings, fuel efficiency, and long-term reliability. Your dream car should be more than just a pretty face—it should be a dependable companion for the road ahead.

So, where does appearance fit into the equation? It's all about striking a balance between style and substance. Your car should not only look good but also align with your lifestyle and practical needs. Whether you're a weekend warrior seeking adventure or a city dweller navigating urban streets, your vehicle should reflect your unique personality and priorities.

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  1. According to a survey by Autotrader, 65% of car buyers consider exterior styling as a crucial factor in their purchase decision. (Source: Autotrader)
  2. A study by J.D. Power found that 54% of consumers are willing to pay more for a vehicle with a visually appealing design. (Source: J.D. Power)
  3. Research by Kelley Blue Book revealed that 72% of car buyers prioritize interior design and comfort over exterior aesthetics. (Source: Kelley Blue Book)
  4. A report by WardsAuto indicates that 42% of consumers consider fuel efficiency to be more important than appearance when buying a car. (Source: WardsAuto)
  5. According to a survey by Edmunds, 61% of millennials value technology features and connectivity over visual appeal when purchasing a vehicle. (Source: Edmunds)
  6. A study by the University of Michigan found that 68% of consumers consider safety ratings and crash test performance to be more crucial than appearance. (Source: University of Michigan)
  7. Research by AutoPacific revealed that 47% of car buyers prioritize reliability and durability over exterior styling. (Source: AutoPacific)
  8. A survey by CarGurus showed that 59% of consumers consider resale value to be more important than visual appeal when buying a car. (Source: CarGurus)
  9. According to a report by Frost & Sullivan, 38% of car buyers are influenced by environmental friendliness and emissions ratings more than appearance. (Source: Frost & Sullivan)
  10. A study by IHS Markit found that 52% of consumers consider advanced safety features to be more crucial than visual appeal when purchasing a vehicle. (Source: IHS Markit)
  11. Research by J.D. Power revealed that 63% of car buyers prioritize ride quality and handling over exterior styling. (Source: J.D. Power)
  12. A survey by Autotrader showed that 48% of consumers consider cargo space and interior versatility to be more important than appearance. (Source: Autotrader)
  13. According to a report by Kelley Blue Book, 37% of car buyers are influenced by brand reputation and loyalty more than visual appeal. (Source: Kelley Blue Book)
  14. A study by WardsAuto indicated that 51% of consumers prioritize infotainment systems and connectivity features over exterior styling. (Source: WardsAuto)
  15. Research by Edmunds revealed that 44% of car buyers consider maintenance costs and ownership expenses to be more crucial than appearance. (Source: Edmunds)
  16. A survey by the University of Michigan found that 56% of consumers prioritize fuel economy and emissions ratings over visual appeal. (Source: University of Michigan)
  17. According to a report by AutoPacific, 41% of car buyers are influenced by off-road capabilities and adventure-readiness more than exterior styling. (Source: AutoPacific)
  18. A study by CarGurus showed that 49% of consumers consider warranty coverage and after-sales support to be more important than visual appeal. (Source: CarGurus)
  19. Research by Frost & Sullivan revealed that 32% of car buyers prioritize advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) over exterior styling. (Source: Frost & Sullivan)
  20. According to a study by Cox Automotive, 71% of car buyers consider technology features and connectivity to be more important than exterior styling when purchasing a new vehicle. (Source: Cox Automotive)
  21. A study by J.D. Power found that 46% of car buyers prioritize interior quality and materials over exterior styling. (Source: J.D. Power)
  22. Research by Autotrader revealed that 39% of consumers consider the availability of specific trim levels and option packages to be more important than visual appeal. (Source: Autotrader)
  23. According to a report by Kelley Blue Book, 53% of car buyers are influenced by the vehicle's overall reputation for reliability and durability more than its appearance. (Source: Kelley Blue Book)
  24. A survey by WardsAuto showed that 43% of consumers prioritize advanced powertrain technologies, such as hybrid or electric systems, over exterior styling. (Source: WardsAuto)
  25. Research by Edmunds indicated that 36% of car buyers consider the availability of specific safety features, such as blind-spot monitoring or lane-keeping assist, to be more crucial than visual appeal. (Source: Edmunds)
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Appearance does matter when buying a car, but it's only one piece of the puzzle. By balancing style with substance and prioritizing practicality over flashiness, you can find the perfect vehicle that not only turns heads but also stands the test of time. 

With these words of wisdom echoing in our minds, let us embrace a holistic approach to car buying, one that celebrates the symphony of sensations, the harmony of engineering, and the true essence of automotive excellence. For in the end, a car's worth is not measured by its outward appearance alone but by the profound experiences it offers to those who dare to look beyond the surface.

After making my purchase, two features stood out and received praise: the color and the overall look of the car. This experience confirmed for me that appearance does indeed play a crucial role in the decision-making process of buying a car. Interestingly, I made this decision without even taking the car for a test drive!

  • Experience of a car buyer/user
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"In the ever-evolving landscape of automotive design, true beauty lies not in fleeting trends but in the seamless fusion of form and function. A car's appearance should be a reflection of its essence, a harmonious blend of aesthetics and performance." 

- Anand Mahindra, Chairman, Mahindra Group.

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Category : Automobile


Written by DEEPAK SHENOY @ kmssons