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It wasn't so long ago that the idea of buying a new car, truck or SUV strictly via cell phone would get you laughed out of your Saturday classic car club.

Well, guess who's laughing now?

Industry data shows that 60% of vehicle buyers are going online to research and buy vehicles, and a burgeoning number of them are using mobile apps to do so, as buyers who started their new car search on a mobile app were 73% more likely to buy a vehicle.

As mobile app usage grows more pervasive among consumers, it only makes sense that auto buyers are increasingly plugging into phone apps to either make a purchase outright, or conduct the research they need to make a wise choice before plunking any cash down for a new vehicle.

Imagine having a mobile app alert you when your dream set of wheels hits your "go" price? Or having an app quickly scan a vehicle identification number and give you a vehicle's history, all in real time?

You get all that and more with the new, 2019 mobile car buying app models rolling off tech assembly lines right now. Here's the best of the bunch.

The 12 Best Car-Buying Mobile Apps

1. CarMax

This car purchase app includes direct access to over 40,000 vehicles for sale, allowing you to compare and contrast 10 cars on your phone screen, at a single time. The app also issues price alerts when the price of the vehicle declines. The app limits your vehicle choice to cars, trucks and SUVs on its CarMax lots, but makes it easy to cut a good deal if you have a CarMax dealership near you (the app can tell you that, too.)

2. Used Car Search Pro

This mobile car-buying app, designed and produced by iSeeCars, scans the lots of over 40,000 dealerships across the U.S., along with "want ad"-type listings from private owners, for used cars for sale that are unique to your needs. The app boasts 59 search filters, sorting listings by "best deals", if that's your priority, and offers a unique price analysis tool to make sure you're not overpaying for a vehicle.

3. AutoTrader

This free app allows you to search for the car, truck, or SUV of your dreams, and store the information on the app for future use. That way you can compare the vehicle to other vehicles you're considering (via the app's "My AutoTrader" feature.) Users can scan a free vehicle history of any car they like, right on the app, and offers a great "reviews" feature on all the vehicles included on the site, making it easy to get a "person on the street's view" of a vehicle you're mulling over.

4. Autolist

Another free mobile car-buying app, Autolist specializes in used cars, SUVs and trucks, offering a ton of useful features, including great deals from over 100 dealer sites and gleaming HD inside/outside images of every vehicle on the site. The app also provides instant price drop alerts, a handy payment calculator, and data on a specific vehicle's price history.

5. Instamotor

This app touts its expertise in finding you the best "pre-loved" used vehicle that fits your unique auto experience needs. Instamotor offers a free vehicle history report (many car-buying apps make you pay for one), and all vehicles are thoroughly vetted for issues such as branded or salvage title, lemon history, odometer inconsistency, weather damage and more, according to Instamotor.

6. Edmunds

The auto vehicle assessment company has a great app that, among other features, includes expert vehicle reviews, comparison pricing, and user ratings - in short, everything you expect to get on the Edmunds.com web site. The site also offers useful features like a car-buying versus car-leasing calculator, and it can help you lock in upfront pricing. If it's vehicle research you're into, it doesn't get better than the Edmunds app.

7. Kelley Blue Book App

The Kelly Blue Book App can not only get you into the vehicle you want, it can help you sell your old vehicle, too. Use it to find out what your current vehicle is worth, check current prices on new vehicles, and find auto dealers with the car you want, with GPS-based maps and directions. Users can also get up-to-the-minute vehicle pricing on models, without having to sift through those ubiquitous advertisements and pitches that so many auto dealers make you suffer through. For accurate and concise auto vehicle knowledge - real bread-and-butter data - Kelly Blue Book is the real deal.

8. TrueCar

TrueCar's tagline is "Real Price - Everywhere", and that's exactly what the TrueCar app sets out to do with a twist. The app provides users with a pricing point based on what other people have already paid for the same car, SUV, or truck. What's more, the TrueCar algorithm establishes what car buyers want most - the price a dealer is willing to sell a vehicle for (which TrueCar calls the "True Price" of a vehicle.) If the priority for you is price, then download this app, which also comes with TrueCar Certified Dealers.

9. Car Buying Guide

This app is from the folks at Consumer Reports, so you know going in that the for-sale vehicles included on the app have been thoroughly vetted, with all tires kicked. The app offers car buyers an extensive list of vehicle ratings, prices, features, along with helpful buy and lease calculators. While you can't actually buy a vehicle on the Consumer Reports app, what you can do is conduct the exact research you need to make a wise vehicle purchase decision. The site does cost $2.99 per month, unless you're a Consumer Reports subscriber.

10. Blinker

This is another app where users can either buy or sell a vehicle, but that's just the appetizer. Users can also finance a vehicle purchase at the click of a keystroke, shop for cars, trucks and SUVs from qualified sellers, and refinance a vehicle, as well - all under the professional guidance of Blinker experts. All users have to do is snap a photo of the vehicle they want to buy or sell, and Blinker walks the user through the process of buying or selling a car, from beginning to end. That's pretty unique - and pretty simple to do.

11. AutoGravity

The AutoGravity App allows users to shop for a new car the way they want - by payment/price, by new vehicles only, or by used vehicles only. The app also provides buyers up to four vehicle financing offers that you can deploy before going to a dealership. Let's face it, knowing you have the cash back up to pounce on a great auto deal is a good tool to have when you're shopping for a new car. AutoGravity also connects buyers to dealers and lenders directly, saving you the time from having to trek down to a bank or dealership to cut a deal. The app is free to download and free to use.

12. Cars.com

If it's the volume of auto purchase deals you're concerned about, the Cars.com app is for you. The app offers millions of cars, trucks and SUVs to choose from. The app lets users obtain pricing information in real time, and allows buyers to compare local vehicle inventories simply by scanning the VIN number on the app. The Cars.com app also delivers auto-alerts when prices drop, and also allows you to sell your vehicle, as well as buy a new one.