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Toyota Expands Online Shopping Program With SmartPath

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COVID-19 has changed how we shop for just about everything — including cars. As automakers and dealers continue to make it easier to shop for and buy a car online, Toyota is jumping into the fray with its SmartPath program.      

Related: How to Buy a Car Online During COVID-19

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With SmartPath, Toyota says customers can lease, finance or purchase a new vehicle without the need to physically visit the dealership. The automaker also said the system delivers increased transparency around current inventory and real-time pricing. 

The digital retail initiative allows customers to shop for cars, apply any applicable trade-in money as well as research and select financing and insurance options online. Shoppers can then finalize their purchase, sign the contract and take delivery in person at the dealership or through a digital appointment with the dealer. It does not feature a test-drive-at-home function, however, like Nissan’s online shopping program. (Individual dealer practices often vary, however, so it’s possible some dealers can facilitate that.)

It’s apparently a needed improvement to the car-buying process during these COVID-19 times. Toyota says a recent survey indicates 2 out of 3 shoppers are more likely to purchase a vehicle 100% online. Toyota began developing SmartPath in 2019 to offer customers a more flexible shopping experience, and the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on car shopping has accelerated its development and expanded the program’s availability. 

SmartPath is available at more than 50 dealerships in select markets and will launch at 50 more in the spring. The final piece of the program — the buy-a-car-online function — will launch later in February, and Toyota said it will then “aggressively” expand SmartPath throughout 2021. 

Lexus customers can also take advantage of the program, albeit under a separate name: Lexus Monogram. 

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News Editor Jennifer Geiger joined the automotive industry in 2003, much to the delight of her Corvette-obsessed dad. Jennifer is an expert reviewer, certified car-seat technician and mom of three. She wears a lot of hats — many of them while driving a minivan. Email Jennifer Geiger

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