Whether you’re on the market for a new car or simply want to weigh your options for the future, knowing how to suit yourself up with the best car for your needs is an essential part of the car-buying process. There are thousands of options out there—from every decade that may fit your fancy—but when it comes to making a decision on thecar that you’ll depend on, careful thought and thorough research are the defining factors that will set just any car apart from your perfectcar. We’ll guide you through every question you need to consider before sealing the deal.
What type of car is best for you?
Though the breakdown of car size categorization continues to subdivide as the years pass, there are five core types of cars:
Sedans are the perfect vehicle solution for single car owners, couples, or small families. Crossovers are great for adventurous spirits who need the extra trunk space, or midsize families that need a bit more leg room. Trucks are ideal for outdoorsy people thanks to the bigger, stronger tires built for off-roading, as well as workers who need bed space for all their supplies. SUVs are the sedan’s biggest sister—they offer high ground clearance and plenty of space for 5+ people. Vans and minivansare America’s favorite family cars. Equipped with sliding doors and a walkway for easy entrance and exit, vans are characterized by their row-style seating.
What size is best for you?
How many people do you expect to be squeezing into your car on an average day? This is an important consideration to keep in mind. A family of 5 will likely be better suited in a cozy crossover or large SUV rather than a smaller sedan. A couple who carpools every morning may find that picking up a third or fourth person may be tricky in a 2-door coupe. Keep these things in mind when test driving that gorgeous used Mercedes for sale at your local dealership. Looks are enticing, but practicality is king.
What will be the car’s primary function?
Will you be using your car as a daily commuter to work? Will you be using it to make money through Lyft or Uber? Do you just need a car to complete weekend chores? Whatever your vehicle’s primary function is, be sure the specs appropriately match your needs. You’ll want fuel-efficient commuter car that can be easily parallel parked on those crowded mornings. Parents will want a child-friendly vehicle that can easily store all of the kids’ soccer gear in the trunk. Depending on your lifestyle, your car demands will vary.
How big is your budget?
Car-buying is an expensive experience, so you’ll want to do everything humanly possible to ensure that not only are you getting the best deal, but you’re able to do so while maintaining your current lifestyle and without going into debt. Before heading into any dealership or even narrowing your search down to specific criteria, get out the ol’ pen and paper and write down all of your outgoing and incoming costs to precisely navigate just how much money you can spend on a new or used car. The last thing you want is to end up with a flashy, expensive car that feels impossible to pay for every month. If you’re on a low budget, that may mean looking at car classifieds on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace for a great third-party car deal rather than looking to lease a car with a long-term contract that binds you for years.
It’s important that car-buyers always factor in the estimated cost of simply owning the car when contemplating their purchase. For example, owning a diesel car versus a car that takes regular gas alone will raise the price of ownership. Check estimated annual repair costs too for a better sense of the total expense buying your new or used vehicle will set you back.
Just because car-buying is tough doesn’t mean it’s not worth it, or that you should put research aside. Understanding your personal needs and expectations for a car is the first step toward pinning down the best car for your unique lifestyle!