Find the right vehicle to suit your life
With 200-plus new cars, pickups, minivans and SUVs on the market, the first step in your car-buying process is determining just what to buy. Unless money is no object, honestly try to distinguish between what you "need" and what you "want." People may crave a rugged, truck-like SUV, but may rarely venture off-road, spend two hours in freeway traffic every day, and need to fit in small parking spaces. Make a list of the features you must have, to narrow your vast options. Ask yourself: How many people or pets do you haul around on a regular basis? Do you need lots of cargo and carrying room? Do you ski? Golf? Use the vehicle for work? How long is your commute? Do you make numerous road trips? Many miles, means greater fuel expense. The bigger the vehicle and the engine-the higher those will be. Do you want a manual or automatic transmission? Do you want two or four-wheel drive? Where do you live? Florida? Or in a rural area with bad weather? Four-wheel-drive is more expensive and eats more fuel, although an SUV or truck with 4WD tends to hold its resale value better. Consider what you TEND to do in your vehicles, not what you INTEND to do. If you do traverse rugged terrain, you also need capable tires, high ground clearance and heavy-duty suspension-not just 4WD. Where do you park? Will the vehicle fit in your garage or spot? If you park in congested or urban areas, will this vehicle prove a parking headache?
How important are certain safety features? Which do you require? For each make and model on the market Autobytel.com provides a list of all standard and optional safety features. Investigate how that model fared in government crash tests, by visiting the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration site at www.nhtsa.dot.gov. Do you absolutely need certain physical features? Bad back, and need lumbar seats? Are you very tall or short? Some vehicles may need seat adjusters for small people and special foot pedals to feel manageable. Large people will be uncomfortable in some subcompacts. How important is 'image'? Consider your potentially irrational 'loves.' Families with kids may want a sportier look and feel than some minivans provide. Remember: compromises are always possible. Many roomy sedans, sporty wagons and SUVs will fulfill image and utility. Work to make a reasonable compromise between your subjective wants ( a car you'll love) and the vehicle you need. Take test drives for a number of models. Examine everything and take your time. Sit in front and back. Drive the way you do, and make sure it's comfortable and user-friendly. After you've established your 'wish' and 'need' list, research everything at New Cars at Autobytel.com. Investigate price, features and reviews for each make or model, comparing vehicles side by side, and feature by feature. With a price target, and key features list in hand, you'll be better able to narrow the search to 2-4 vehicles that will suit.