It sounds way too good to be true, but new Canadian car shopping research shows it’s possible to buy a used car in another city, fly there to collect it, and still pay less than you would buying a similar car locally.
This mind-bending proposition has been put forward by CarGurus, a car shopping website run by the people behind TripAdvisor.
By analyzing used vehicle prices in a number of major Canadian cities and then tracking airfare for direct flights between them, they’ve come up with data suggesting their “fly to buy” scheme could save pre-owned car buyers thousands of dollars, including a plane ticket and gas to drive the car home.
Right off the bat, we’ll say we’re a bit skeptical, but bear with us as we hear out what they have to say.
CarGurus says the cars they selected for their research “were among the most searched” on the site, and include popular models like the Ford F-150, BMW 3 Series, and Honda CR-V, and the values for each vehicle in different cities were collected and compared to find where they were each least expensive. Airfare is based on August 1 ticket prices, and gas prices were pulled from Statistics Canada data from May 2017.
The biggest saver, they said, would be an aspiring Ford F-150 buyer in Vancouver, who could fly to Calgary to buy a 2016 model of that pickup, drive it home through the Rockies and save as much as $4,750. We imagine most of that savings is due to the fact Calgary (and most of Alberta, for that matter) must be lousy with pickup trucks, the F-150 being the most popular in Canada.
Meanwhile, someone in the nation’s capital could buy the same F-150 in Calgary and save $1,514.
An Edmonton buyer of a 2016 BMW 3 Series could save $3,327 buying their car in Winnipeg, or $3,100 for one in Vancouver.
Finally, CarGurus said you could fly from Winnipeg to London, Ontario, or from Halifax to Montreal, for a 2016 Honda CR-V and save $2,877 and $1,720 respectively.
We can see the appeal of this sort of used-car tourism, particularly when the drive home is as scenic as the one between Calgary and Vancouver, and we’d pretty happily trek from Montreal home to Halifax, too. Less enticing is the idea of driving home to Ottawa from Calgary, especially considering getting across Ontario is a three-day slog on its own.
If you were planning to see more of Canada during its sesquicentennial year, and happened to be in the market for a used car, maybe it’s time to head to the airport.