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How trim and options data factor in CarGurus rankings

Posted by Andrew Grochal on January 16, 2019

Andrew Grochal here, Head of Dealer Products for CarGurus. I wanted to provide some additional information to answer some questions that have come up from dealers on how we use trim and option data in our ranking and rating algorithms.

First, I want to be very clear that we understand how critical it is for vehicles to have accurate trim and option info. From our point of view, it’s a win for both consumers and dealers for us to get this right, and we’re constantly improving our ability to get this right while giving you the tools to identify and quickly fix any issues.

As you probably know though, car data is messy, which makes the comparison of used cars especially tricky. That’s the challenge we’ve been solving at CarGurus over the past 12 years: building technology and mathematical algorithms that enable consumers to analyze millions of listings to find great deals and connect with top-rated dealers. Our algorithms factor model, year, mileage, trim, options, engine, transmission, location, and vehicle history data on more than 5 million car listings on our site – we’re analyzing huge, non-uniform data sets that come to us from more than 200 inventory feed partners every day. Our technology is built to normalize this data so we can use it in our IMV (Instant Market Value) calculation, which we combine with verified dealer ratings to inform CarGurus deal ratings. But when incomplete, inaccurate or illegible data inputs come through in those inventory feeds, detecting and normalizing the data gets more challenging.

Some dealers have specifically asked why there are missing or incorrect trims and options on some listings on our site, and how that might impact deal rating. It’s rare, but when data in the inventory feed comes through inaccurate or incomplete, sometimes our technology can’t definitively reconcile it to our ontology. In those cases, the trim or specific option data associated with the listings might not be represented correctly in our deal analysis – this doesn’t always impact the deal ranking, but it can.

Recognizing this, we have developed tools to let you easily identify and easily fix a listing that does not have the correct trim. For example, in the CarGurus Dealer Dashboard, our customers can go right to the Dealer Insights section and filter for the inventory that does not have a trim level associated with it:


This section takes our customers right into our Dealer Pricing Tool, where it will be automatically filtered to show the inventory that does not have a trim and dealers can correct the data on this page.


In addition to using the Dealer Pricing Tool in the dashboard, we always encourage CarGurus customers to call their representative with questions about their listings. Specific input and examples from dealers are very helpful to our engineers, so we appreciate getting the feedback since it helps us improve.

A related question that I’ve been asked is how CarGurus values trim or options in our IMV calculation. Some dealers say they don’t always see the option reflected in the IMV calculation even when the information is accurate. We do factor in options, but in some cases, the regression analysis determines that an option impacts the car’s market value, and sometimes it doesn’t. This is based on analysis of large sets of comparative market data for millions of cars. What that data has shown is that some options on some cars simply don’t retain any value used, even if they carry an additional cost when the car is new. We are always willing to look at the analysis if you think we’ve made an error.

I hope that helps to answer some questions, but again if you have concerns about specific trim and option inputs or how we have analyzed a specific car’s IMV and deal rating please give your rep a call or email, and we will take a look.

Topics: CarGurus news