Website report card

I have no patience when it comes to websites, so they better load quickly. I prefer to read than to watch a video, so they better not force me. I don't want music that's integral to the experience - sometimes I'm in the mood, sometimes not so much.

In short, I'm just as picky as the average consumer.

These days, depending on which survey you read, upwards of three-quarters of car buyers do their research on the Internet before setting foot in a dealership, and most often on the manufacturers' sites. Makes sense then that car makers are devoting considerable energy and resources to their web presences.

We spent some time on the manufacturers' websites to bring you our completely unbiased and mostly scientifically accurate opinions about how easily navigated their sites, how useful, how pretty, how quick to respond, and how much they accurately represented their offerings.

Toyota Canada Website

Photo: Toyota Canada

 The following are listed in alphabetical order:

  1. Acura.ca: Good-looking, nice to see some color. Not too many extras, but clean and easy to use. Models handily broken down by segment. Grade: B+
  2. Audi.ca: Easily navigable but lacking excitement. Too much gray both on the site and on the vehicle photography. Nifty extras like Audi history and upcoming events. Grade: B
  3. Chrysler.ca: I'm not sure what Chrysler's brand identity is these days, and their landing page doesn't help. Dodge.ca and Jeep.ca sites are not significantly different, and fail to convey brand identities. Ramtruck.ca is more dynamic, but harder to navigate. Grade: C
  4. BMW.ca: Spacious, colorful design with a ton of information. Lots of extras for the fans, and the basics are easy to find. Not as elegant as the cars themselves, but it does convey the fun factor well, and offers the information you're after quickly. Lingerers will find lots to browse. Grade: B+.
  5. Generalmotors.ca: Colorful, dynamic design that manages to engage without making things too difficult to navigate. Makes and models are easily found. Chevy, Buick, and GMC sites are similar in design but uniquely colored, each offering a glimpse into the brand identity. Cadillac.ca is another thing all together, and again highlights the brand well. All are easy to navigate, and the model information abundant. Few extras. Grade: A
  6. Fiatcanada.com: As cute as the cars, with lots of white space to make it easy to read. Easily navigable, with a few nifty extras like wallpapers and history. Simply done, but the fans will want more. And, the cardinal sin, several pages refused to load properly. Grade: B
  7. Ford.ca: Similar in feel to GM, with a clean layout in spite of a lot of color. Model information easily found. Lots of information about their technologies, in particular infotainment and fuel efficiency. The Lincoln tab was hard to spot, but once there, proved an elegant, easily navigated site in spite of a couple of annoying overlapping menus. Grade: A
  8. Honda.ca: Home page failed to load properly for me, with parts of the main artwork missing. Navigated to the "Automotive" site where model information is easily enough found, but the site just lacks verve. Little variation in fonts or type sizes. Model-specific pages lack cohesion. Grade: C
  9. Hyundaicanada.com: Style-wise, it could be Honda. Lacks dynamism, but information is easily found, and various models and trims easily compared. Few extras. Utterly lacking in fun, and offers few reasons to stick around and play. Grade: C
  10. Infiniti.ca: Good looking site with beautifully photographed cars and an elegant, cohesive design. A bit busy at times, with few extras, and I had trouble with images on all but the landing page being cut off. In-depth vehicle information, with highlights and lots of photography. Grade: A
  11. Kia.ca: Among the most blatantly consumer-oriented with lots of incentive information, star-bursts and a dynamic landing page. Fun to look at, simply and effectively laid out. Grade: A
  12. Lexus.ca: Not sure that it particularly reflects the brand's identity, and lacks cohesion design-wise. Easily navigated, with scant extras and little to distract from your mission. Does the job, but uninspiring. Grade: B
  13. Mini.ca: Certainly reflects the fun, urban vibe of the brand, but model information was among the hardest to find and navigate, hidden deep in some jumpy sub-menus. Style over substance. Some text hard to read, and those menus were really annoying. Grade: C
  14. Mazda.ca: Instantly recognizable. Quick scan of model subheads offers highlights like price, fuel economy and connectivity. Once you navigate down into the model information, there's a lot of wasted space and too-small type, but functional overall. Grade: B
  15. Mercedes-benz.ca: Elegant, cohesive, easily navigated with a few too many silver cars. Type is lackluster and too small. Far less exciting than the cars themselves. Grade: B-
  16. Mitsubishi-motors.ca: A bit lacking in excitement, but easily identifiable as Mitsubishi. Functional, well laid out, some cute extras under their "electric cars" tab, although the "Electriphobia" link took forever to load. Grade: B+
  17. Nissan.ca: Easily navigated, good looking without being too distractingly flashy. Liked the "key features" for each model. Light on extras, but the model information is among the best. Grade: A
  18. Porsche.com/Canada: Looks good, but twitchy menus that pop up too easily and overlap too often are distracting. Comprehensive model information. Good extras, including technical glossary and company history. Grade: A
  19. Scion.ca: Perfectly reflects the brand. Design is colorful but edgy. Easily navigated. Lots of extras, including music, videos, galleries and other fun stuff for the fans. Grade: A
  20. Thesmart.ca: Pics take too long to load, especially on landing page, but otherwise a nicely laid out, comprehensive site that reflects the brand identity well. Even the fonts are nifty. Grade: A-
  21. Subaru.ca: A clean, no-nonsense site with an appropriate esthetic. Lacking a little something in the dynamics department, and some of the extras wouldn't load properly. Grade: B
  22. Suzuki.ca: Unexpectedly dynamic and colorful, it actually made me more excited about the brand than the cars usually do. Lots of model information readily available. Limited extras. Grade: A
  23. Toyota.ca: Information is easily found and comprehensive. Menus a little too twitchy. Good FAQs, nice photography. Lots of environmental and company info. Grade: A
  24. Volkswagen.ca: I disliked clicking certain models and automatically triggering a video. I liked the model-picker menu that let me narrow it down by body style, horsepower, etc., but mostly as a gimmick; sitting next to quite easily discernible pics of all the models, it didn't seem very useful. Seemed promising, but ultimately disappointed. Few extras. Grade: B
  25. Volvocars.com/ca: Love the "5 things to know" about each model feature. Simple lay out, nice fonts, comprehensive model information, reflects the brand identity well. Surprisingly comprehensive "Community" tab. Grade: A