THUMBS UP: Click on Your New Car

Physician's Money Digest, November 2005, Volume 12, Issue 15

Whether you arelooking for color andtrim, a sports package,or a high-tech navigationsystem, now the busy physician cancheck out everything a car has to offerbefore ever setting foot in the showroom.Automobile manufacturers suchas Ford Motor Co, General Motors Corp,BMW, and Mercedes-Benz have streamlinedthe car-shopping process by helpingconsumers figure out exactly whichvehicle they want with online matchingtools. Ford Motor Co (www.ford.com),whose brands include Volvo, Jaguar, andLand Rover, has an interactive vehicleshowroom tool that filters the car youwant according to body style, pricerange, miles per gallon, and seating.General Motors Corp has a similar user-friendlyWeb site called FindYourStyle.com that allows you to search bylifestyle or vehicle. BMW (www.bmwusa.com) and Mercedes-Benz (www.mbusa.com) allow you to build yourown vehicle according to your specificationsonline. These tools come in handyas the buying process has becomeincreasingly more complicated withmore and more options added everyyear. According to WardsAuto.com,there are about 545 cars and 1657light-duty trucks available in the USmarket for the 2005 model year, comparedwith 496 and 1512, respectively,for the 2001 model year.