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How far is too far to travel to buy a new car? Would you drive 700 miles to get a great deal on a new car? A survey asked car buyers how far they’d go for a good deal, and the range of answers is surprising.

Driving distance to buy a car by state

Car and Driver reports that a study by Quantrell Subaru in Lexington, Kentucky surveyed 2,690 drivers asking how far they’d be willing to drive to get a good deal on a used car. Drivers in Alaska reported the longest distance at 722 miles, while Vermont drivers would only go 286 miles. The distance drivers were willing to go between all 50 states averaged 469 miles.

A cursory glance at the values for Alaska, the largest state in the United States, and Vermont, the seventh smallest contiguous state, appears the data favors longer distances for larger, less densely populated states. That trend receives further support from New Mexico, the nation’s fifth-largest state, which reports drivers willing to drive 700 miles for a good deal. Even the third-longest distance, 696 miles, is from the relatively sparsely populated and 11th largest state of Idaho. 

However, the trend begins to fall apart with Hawaii, the fourth-smallest state, with drivers reporting a willingness to drive 679 miles. Then there’s the second smallest state, Delaware, with drivers willing to go 556 miles, the eighth longest distance. Finally, Montana is sparsely populated and the fourth largest state, but its drivers would only travel 383 miles, the fifth shortest distance.

Is buying a new car worth a road trip?

A long road trip to buy a new car pays dividends in several situations. Suppose you are looking for something specific in your new vehicle. A particular color, set of options, or unique engine/transmission combination that might only exist in a few cars across the nation might necessitate a long-distance road trip, especially as we slip from one model year to the next. A dealership a few states over with a 2022 lime green hatchback, tow-package equipped, manual shift, turbocharged four-cylinder might have sufficient motivation to knock off a few hundred bucks, making a 700-mile drive worthwhile.

Another scenario is a dealer that bought too many white, four-door sedan imports for its territory, and now they can’t sell anymore. That dealer might drop the price enough to make you drive all night to get there.

Honestly, road trips are an adventure, a right of passage of sorts, and if you save money or get a good deal, that’s just a bonus.

So is buying a new car worth a road trip? If it means you get to go on an adventure with a loved one or your best friend, or even if you buy a one-way bus or plane ticket to do it, the answer is yes. You could get a great deal on a new car and the story of a lifetime.

Car dealership lot displaying new 2021 vehicles on the lot.
Car dealership lot | Michael Siluk/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

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