Do People Really Give Cars As Gifts At The Holidays?

CarGurus Survey Shows It’s Rare But Does Happen, And There’s A Right Way To Car Gift

Cambridge, Mass. – November 20, 2017 – It’s that time of year when automakers promote the fantasy of surprising loved ones with a new car wrapped in the quintessential giant red bow. But do people actually give cars as gifts at the holidays? According to a survey conducted by CarGurus, a leading automotive online marketplace, the answer is yes, although it is rare. Only 11% of people that reported having received a car as a gift for a special occasion received that car for the winter holidays. According to the survey, it’s actually much more likely for someone to receive a car as a gift for a birthday (35%) or a graduation (43%).

For those considering this uncommon but grand gift gesture for a loved one, the survey also found the keys to creating a memorable experience. Respondents that received a car as a gift on special occasions expressed the following:

• The giant bow may seem like a fleeting detail, but it’s what drove the biggest smiles. Those that had a giant bow on the car were the most surprised (52%) and the happiest (74%).
• There’s no need to get a gift receipt for this particular present. Nearly half (44%) of people not involved in choosing the car said it completely or mostly matched what they would have chosen for themselves.
• Don’t worry about spoiling the big reveal because you’re worried about choosing the right car. The survey data showed that 70% of people who were extremely surprised by receiving a car as a gift said it completely or mostly matched what they would have chosen for themselves.

“Winter time means that there will soon be holiday ad campaigns showing a shiny new car in the driveway, and some may think that the elated reaction is overdone,” said Madison Gross, senior manager of consumer insights at CarGurus. “Yes, those dream-like moments are rare, but big red bow moments do actually happen from time to time and interestingly, gift-givers do a really good job of shopping for the right car for their friends and family. With solid research and a great deal on a new or used car you can create an unforgettable moment with a loved one.”

CarGurus’ survey shows that giving a car as a gift is all about creating a special experience. One survey participant told CarGurus his story, saying, “[I] wanted this red convertible Pontiac Sunbird when I was 17. [I] went to the dealer to look at it and was told it had been sold. It had a huge red bow on it. I was extremely disappointed until my dad told me he was the one who bought it, for me, for my graduation.”

Another respondent who had been surprised with a Lexus said, “After getting into a bad car accident, on Christmas morning I went out to find a new-to-me car with a massive red bow on it. I couldn't have been happier.”

These observations are based on an October 2017 online survey of more than 1,000 participants who have been given a car as a gift, excluding the occasion of receiving their first car. Survey participants were 18 years of age and older.

Full survey results can be viewed here.

About CarGurus

Founded in 2006, CarGurus (NASDAQ:CARG) is a global, online automotive marketplace connecting buyers and sellers of new and used cars. The company uses proprietary technology, search algorithms and data analytics to bring trust and transparency to the automotive search experience and help users find great deals from top rated dealers. In addition to the United States, CarGurus operates online marketplaces in Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany. To learn more about CarGurus, visit

Shannon Todesca