Whether you’re looking to buy an affordable sedan like a Nissan Versa or some sort of lavish SUV, such as a Porsche Cayenne, purchasing a new vehicle can be a daunting task. There are just so many options, beyond just the various body types, and then you have to take into account finer details like trim level, color, and optional extras. But, first things first, you need to know what to look for when buying a new car.
Balance the books
Before you even start looking at cars, you need to know what you can actually afford. This entails sitting down and doing a real budget of your income and expenses. Once you have a solid figure to work with, you can start ruling out everything that will push you into the red. However, it is important to keep in mind that the actual price of a new car will vary quite significantly from the MSRP price tag that dealers try to lure you in with.
On top of handling fees, you also have to put money aside to pay for licensing and registration. And then you need to consider your insurance costs. Since this is a monthly fee, you can’t just save up or put money aside once. What matters most here is understanding what to look for when buying a new car – the extract prices and the financing behind the purchase. This will also help you shop around for real deals as opposed to being fleeced by fast-talking salespeople or drawn into an oppressive insurance policy by an opportunistic provider. The more you know, the more power you have in negotiations.
Examine your lifestyle
The next step is figuring out which of the many vehicle configurations will best suit your lifestyle. Are you a single youngster just getting started in your professional life; or are you settled down and considering starting your family; or maybe your kids are grown and off living their own lives, and you want to trade in your sensible crossover for a sexy coupe? The perfect vehicle differs from person to person, so make sure you know what will work best for you.
Some of the advantages of each style include:
- Often cheaper than larger cars, with superior fuel economy
- Easy to drive and maneuver around town
- Relatively practical
- Elegant in upper trims
- Also relatively affordable
- The style de jour for sports cars
- Most have loads of horsepower and the handling to control it
SUVs or Crossovers
- High passenger and cargo capacity
- Superior levels of comfort
- High safety and dependability ratings
- Versatility and some off-roading is offered
Separate the wheat from the chaff
Now that you’re ready to take a closer look at the style you have chosen, you need to start refining the search parameters. Take into account finer details like user reviews or reports from recognized institutes in the USA like the NHTSA or J.D. Power. These will give you a good idea of whether or not a car is safe and dependable, or just another lemon you’ll have to replace in a few years.
Though not always the case, it is the vehicles with an extensive array of safety features, both passive and active, that come out on top. A few creature comforts like heated seating or a comprehensive infotainment suite don’t hurt either. And while you may think that these sorts of things are restricted to the top trim levels of already expensive models, you’d be mistaken. Many automakers are ensuring that even their most affordable nameplates are equipped with loads of modern tech.
Of course, you do get more when you shop in higher price brackets, but you needn’t break the bank. Many luxury brands, like Volvo, Lexus, or Lincoln have a number of well-priced options, especially in the compact and subcompact segments. The bonus here is that the base-model trims often have enough extra value added as standard that they end up costing you less than if you choose a cheaper car and add on the things you need or want.
Those that do it best
While it may help to simply list all the things to look for when buying a new car, sometimes it is better to just show some examples of those that get it right.
A great small sedan priced at under $20k, it boasts some of the best mpg figures among its non-hybrid competitors. And while the engine may not excite anyone, really, it is a comfortable driver with a good infotainment suite and a decent array of basic features.
Honda Civic Si
At the mid-$20k mark, the Si coupe is one of the cheapest ways to get some thrills on the road. The engine is punchy, but the manual transmission is what sets it apart in a sea of automatics. Add to this its refined handling and you have yourself a budget sports car. The trunk is a little small, though, but you do get Honda’s trademark dependability.
There may be more affordable options out there, but the RAV4 is the top-selling SUV in the States for a reason. You can go gas-fed, hybrid, or electric, with no choice negatively impacting on passenger comfort or cargo capacity. Both are excellent for the affordable mid-size market.