National Edition

How America's love for cars is changing

Published: Wednesday, June 4 2014 9:53 p.m. MDT

Updated: Wednesday, June 4 2014 9:53 p.m. MDT

In this Wednesday, May 8, 2013 photo, new 2013 Ford Fusions are seen at an automobile dealer in Zelienople, Pa. Sales from the major automakers are expected to show that confident U.S. buyers snapped up new cars and trucks at a strong pace in June. Having a car is as American as it gets. Right? Well, maybe not so much anymore.

Keith Srakocic, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

America — the land of freedom, apple pies and cars.

But that idea seems to be changing, at least in the case of the latter.

Historically, Americans have loved having cars. The Associated Press published an article Monday that looked into how America has fallen in love with the automobile. But that love and adoration may soon be changing, the AP reported.

“For much of the last century, the car has been Americans' primary vehicle for realizing individual freedom,” the AP reported. “But in an era of road rage, gas close to $4 a gallon and the temptation of texting behind the wheel, is driving still a love affair? Or is it just a way to get from here to there?”

Part of that shift is how Americans are getting their cars. Quartz reported on Monday that Americans are opting out of buying a car and instead are choosing to rent them. People are also leasing cars, too, Quartz reported.

But why?

Well, there are a few different reasons, as Matt Phillips pointed out in his Quartz piece. For one, leasing and renting is a cheaper option.

Renting is especially popular among millennials, Phillips wrote. Most younger people are getting involved with businesses that don’t offer full ownership — your Spotifys, your Pandoras, your Netflixs. This is making renting and leasing a lot more appealing, even though it may not be the best option in the long run, Phillips wrote.

“[O]ver the next few years, a lot of the people who’ve leased cars for the first time will be bringing them back to dealerships,” Phillips wrote. “And that’s when they’ll discover the downside of leasing, as dealers attempt to ding them for excessive mileage and wear-and-tear — some of the reasons why experts say owning is still the better financial bet over the long term.”

But whether they're renting or buying, Americans don’t exactly enjoy shopping for cars. Michael De Groote of Deseret News National wrote in April that a new study found people mostly don’t enjoy shopping for a new car.

“A car is the second-most expensive thing people buy, but shopping for one is apparently so despised that people are not looking around very much to make sure they are buying the right car at the best price,” De Groote wrote.

De Groote’s story was based on a survey by DMEautomotive that found about 50 percent of buyers said they test-drove either one or no vehicles before buying, showing that the shoppers won’t stay in those car lots for very long.

And De Groote’s piece also mentioned the best practices for testing-driving: talking to some experts about it. One expert, Patrick George, said in his article for Jalopnik that testing a car is the best way to understand the investment you’re back to make, according to De Groote’s piece.

"You can read reviews until your eyeballs bleed,” George said, “but nothing ever compares to actually driving the car for yourself and learning how it feels and how it will suit your needs."

Email: hscribner@deseretdigital.com

Twitter: @herbscribner

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