The latest Consumer Sentiment Survey has found that fuel economy and advanced safety features are the most important considerations among individuals currently pondering the purchase of a new or used vehicle. An overwhelming 69 percent of respondents placed exceptional fuel efficiency in their top-priority tier -- and expressed willingness to pay extra for a vehicle that offered better relative EPA numbers than a similar competitive model. That primacy is hardly surprising, given that nearly three-quarters of the group thought gasoline prices would remain constant or rise during the next 30 days and a similar percentage indicated that factor had at least some influence on their specific vehicle considerations.

Following closely behind on the worth-paying-more-for list of these individuals were advanced safety features -- notably additional airbags and automatic-braking systems -- which were viewed as top-tier features by 63 percent of those surveyed. A like number placed power windows and door locks in their most dollar-deserving equipment tier, while 62 percent did so with cruise control.

On the flip side, the Consumer Sentiment Survey found potential buyers were far less keen on shelling out extra cash for a variety of other comfort/convenience/cosmetic/vehicle dynamics touches. Between one-third and half of those queried viewed automatic climate control, keyless entry, power seats, and all-wheel drive worthy of into highest-priority status; however less than 30 percent accorded prime-requirement status to things like leather upholstery, heated/cooled seats, audio systems with MP3 capability, Bluetooth, and blind-spot warning systems. That index number fell below 15 percent for features like styling and performance enhancements, wheel/tire upgrades and alternative fuel-vehicles in general. Only 10 percent thought a GPS navigation system merited most-important status in their purchase consideration hierarchy while a mere six percent found a spot for self-parking/park assist capabilities.   

The Consumer Sentiment Survey was conducted by Kelley Blue Book Market Intelligence, a Division of Analytic Insights. Data was generated from a sample of 644 responses taken from individuals who visited the site during the first three weeks of August 2011 and planned to purchase a new vehicle within the next 12 months.

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