Being an automotive journalist for 18 years brings a sort of burden: helping friends and family choose their new rides. It is natural when you have contact with all the newest products, but this is when you also see people normally do not have a clue on how to choose the best car for them. So I decided to write this short script with the main concerns you must have when deciding which of the many options available is the one that suits you and your needs in the best way.
The first thing to ask is: do you really need a car? Sometimes you just want to have one. But you will barely use it. You never travel and, when you need to go anywhere, you prefer to take a cab, a bus, a train or any other means of transportation. Because you will not have anywhere to park it where you are going. Because it will be expensive to park. Or simply because it will be cheaper, faster and more comfortable not to go by car. That happens more frequently than we could think. Imagine being inside a car for hours due to the rush while a train or a subway would get you where you want much faster. And you even get to read something on the way. A car is definitely not for everyone.
It would be recommended for someone who has to drive at least more than 50 km every day. Or that needs to carry a lot of things to work. Or that enjoys traveling by car on weekends and on vacation. Or that have kids or old folks to take care of. Or that is just so in love with these machines. So much so that can cope with all the costs and burdens of having a car. As the Italian adage goes, “donne e motori, gioie e dolori”, or “ladies and cars, joy and pain”. If you can take it, go for it. But you are not the sort of person this text may help, for sure. You do not have a best car, but the perfect one. Or parked in your house or in your dreams. For all the ones that really need advice, you should follow to the next concern on choosing a car.
This is the first and foremost aspect of car ownership. If you have no idea on how much you can spend to buy the best car for you, you should first do the math. Because it is not only the price of the car that counts. There are many initial expenses that have to be taken into consideration. Insurance and taxes, for example, but also if the car will need any sort of repair, when it is a used one. Which cars offer the lower insurances? How good is that used car you were willing to see? Are the tires ok? What about the paint? Has the car ever been in an accident? Was the owner careful? Is the engine working properly or burning oil? What about the transmission? In case you can buy a new car, is it worth it, considering the devaluation it has as soon as it leaves the dealer?
Will you buy your car in cash or will need a loan in order to do so? If a loan is the only option, which loan type is the best for you? If buying in cash is possible, how much discount can you have on the models you are considering? These are all things that must help you in your decision, but the budget part does not end there. Living with a car will bring you lots of other expenses: servicing, parking, cleaning and refueling, above all others.
Are fuel prices in your country low or high? Will you need a very frugal vehicle or that does not matter to your finances and you can afford a stronger and much more fun car? After you get answers for all these questions, you can go to the next level.
First of all, how many people would you have to carry? If you are single, or married with no kids, a B-segment hatchback will cover most of your needs. A 2-seater would also suffice. Families require at least a C-segment vehicle, one that would allow child seats or enough comfort for adolescents in the back seat, for example. A sedan or a station wagon are normally the best choice, not only for monthly shopping, but also for traveling once in a while and having enough space for the bags. Always remember the people who ride with you when choosing your new car.
Minivans may also be an option, especially for larger families, with more than 3 kids to carry, but they are not so good to drive. Only consider one if you think driving is getting from point A to B. In other words, if you are not very much into driving.
After you define what the best car for you will have to be, you can start to think about where you are going to use it.
If you like off-roading, or if you have to face dirt roads very often, then, and only then, I would recommend you to buy an SUV. A capable one, with proper 4WD, low range and lock differentials. Apart from that, having a crossover or an SUV is almost as insane as burning money. Tires are more expensive, fuel economy is ridiculous and you don’t get the same driving pleasure a regular car could offer. Some choose them alleging they are safer, but you are more prone to rollover in one of them. The surge of these vehicles is a testimony of trend power. And of how stupid trend can be.
If you need to carry stuff to work, the best car for you will probably be a pick-up, a sedan or a station wagon. The pick-up and the station wagon are more versatile car bodies, which allow carrying large objects, but the station wagon is way better to drive. Nonetheless, if you have to carry building material, tools or anything of the kind, a pick-up is more suited for the task.
With all these things considered carefully, you can jump into the best part of choosing your next ride: taste.
Now you have restricted your options to a few. With you budget, you know whether you can buy a used or a new car for what you need. So now its is a matter of taste: which one looks better and would make you more proud to look at your parking spot.
In case you are in doubt about two or more models, a good tiebreaker would be to find the best buying options each of them offers. Look for discounts or any other sort of advantage that you may find useful. Another tiebreaker idea can be fuel consumption, or resale value. Just don’t get carried by any of them. It is a hassle to make a solely rational decision and have to live with a choice you are not entirely happy with.
In case you are still in doubt about the car you would like to buy, MotorChase can help you choose. It is not a free service anymore, unfortunately, but you can learn how to get a car buying consultation clicking here.