Is Carvana a Good Way to Buy a Car? The Best Car Buying Sites Compared
Carvana is an Arizona-based vehicle shopping website that buys and sells used cars. The company is known for delivering vehicles to its customers and the multistory "car vending machines" it has in some cities. It is part of a growing trend of companies geared toward shifting the car shopping process almost entirely online.
With this in mind, we decided to take a closer look at Carvana and highlight other online car shopping websites to see how Edmunds' own online car shopping services compare.
Carvana vs. Edmunds: Selling your current vehicle
Both Edmunds and Carvana will make you an offer on your current vehicle. The prices will vary depending on the condition of your vehicle, current market conditions and the particular model you own. That said, we entered the VINs of some vehicles we own in order to test out the offers, and we found that the Edmunds price was often higher than the Carvana price.
If you're leasing but would like to get an offer on the vehicle, Carvana will ask for your monthly payment and lease buyout amount. It will take longer to get an appraisal if you don't have this information handy. On Edmunds, you can go straight to getting an offer and the details will be handled later when you redeem the offer at a participating dealership near you.
The Edmunds offer is good for seven days, while the Carvana offer is only valid for one day. We should also note that you don't need to provide any personal information to get an offer on your vehicle on Edmunds. Carvana requires your email address before showing you the price.
Carvana vs. Edmunds: New car buying
Edmunds offers new vehicles from dealerships nationwide and gives its customers the ability to see the market value of any given car. The site also points out what price you should be paying, which helps in identifying a good deal. You can also reach out to dealerships to inquire about a particular vehicle you're interested in taking a closer look at.
Carvana, on the other hand, does not offer any new car inventory.
Carvana vs. Edmunds: Used car shopping
Carvana lists the vehicles it acquires from its customers on the site. There are plenty of detailed photos of each car, but the inventory is limited to just those vehicles. Edmunds offers inventory from hundreds of dealerships nationwide, so the pool of vehicles is much larger. This is important in the current climate. The shortage of used cars means you need to cast a wider net to find the vehicle that fits your needs.
Carvana delivers the vehicle to the customer, which is the first time the customer will see the car in person. Carvana has a seven-day return policy, which is similar to what CarMax offers.
Carvana vs. Edmunds: Research
Edmunds has expert reviews on nearly every vehicle going back to the late '90s. This is extremely valuable when you're not sure which vehicle to choose or what a vehicle's strengths and weaknesses are. Carvana provides basic information on standard features, but it doesn't offer any context or advice as to whether it will be a good car for you.
Other notable websites where you can buy or sell your car
Cargurus is an automotive shopping website based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and founded by Langley Steinert, co-founder of TripAdvisor. It lists new and used cars from dealerships and private sellers. Like Edmunds, Cargurus also has consumer and expert reviews, vehicle pricing analysis, and sortable lists to find the best deals. Cargurus also provides financing and the ability to list your vehicle on the site as a private seller.
Vroom is a New York City-based car shopping website that focuses on used car selling and buying. It does not list new vehicles or provide any expert reviews like Edmunds does. Customers choose a vehicle on the site and get approved for financing, and then the vehicle is delivered to them in 10-14 days. Like Carvana, you don't see the vehicle in person until the final step. If you aren't happy with the vehicle, it gives you seven days or 250 miles to return it for a refund. Vroom does not have reviews or buying guides on any of its vehicles.
Driveway is another online car shopping company that sells new and used cars. It accepts trade-ins, arranges financing and promises to deliver the vehicle to your home. Driveway claims to offer the ability to book service appointments, but we tried a number of ZIP codes and nothing was within range. It is not clear in which areas service appointments might be available.
Cars.com is a large online shopping website based in Chicago that has been around since 1998. It is the most similar to Edmunds in that it offers a wide selection of new and used vehicles from dealerships around the country. Cars.com also advertises instant trade-in offers, though as of this writing it was not yet available. Cars.com does not deliver the vehicle to you; instead, you conduct the transaction at the dealership. Similar to Edmunds, Cars.com has news and reviews covering the latest in the auto industry.
Edmunds says: Many websites out there promise to make the car shopping process easier, but Edmunds has everything you need to buy a new or used vehicle. If you have a trade-in, it's important to get multiple offers on your vehicle to know the full range of its value. Edmunds offers a competitive price without asking for any personal information and gives you time to think about it. Get an instant offer on your car now to see how much cash you can get for it.
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