What Should I Buy? Now, that's a tough question.
and only you can answer it. But let’s have a look at a number of things to help you narrow down your selection. You’ve probably heard numerous times that a new vehicle purchase will likely be the second most expensive purchase you’ll ever make, next to a new home. So approach it in that fashion.
For Example: Another Large Purchase
For a new home, you’d want to look at a number of things. Since you’ve likely lived in a house, condo or apartment in the past, you can be fairly specific about what you want:
- Three bedrooms
- Two car garage
- Double driveway
- Three bathrooms
- Finished basement
- Roof and windows in good condition
- Electrical system doesn’t need to be upgraded
- Air conditioning
- Heating system in good condition
- Walking distance to schools
- Quiet neighbourhood
Let's Relate It to a Vehicle
Here are things you can look at:
- Engine type
- Fuel Economy and type
- Towing capacity
- Driven wheels
- Exterior size
- Interior room
- Cargo capacity
- Resale value
What Will Meet Your Needs?
Let’s break down the list so you can think about each topic as it pertains to you.
- Use – will it be just for weekends, and if so, do you run up to a cottage, do you commute by car, do you haul kids to soccer practice twice per week? How will you use your vehicle?
- Engine type – gas, diesel, battery electric, hybrid, plug-in hybrid?
- Transmission – will you shift for yourself or let the car do the shifting for you?
- Fuel Economy and type – do you put a lot of miles on your vehicle? Will you need something super economical or can you afford the fuel bill for a full-size SUV?
- Performance – enough to safely merge onto the highway or do you want to take down BMW M3’s? Do you need to tow a boat or jet ski?
- Towing capacity – do you need to take a boat or snowmobile to a cottage? Do you have a camper that needs to be towed?
- Driven wheels – Do you need the traction of all wheel drive, is front drive sufficient, or does a traditional rear-wheel drive vehicle suit you?
- Style – is it just to get from point A to point B or do you want to arrive like a movie star? Is colour important to you? What about the interiors? Cloth, leatherette, leather and vegan interiors are among your choices.
- Exterior size – do you have a small garage that won’t fit a large SUV, similarly, do you have a height limit on an underground garage where you’ll park your new vehicle, will it turn in tight spaces for ease of parking, do you need to easily get in and out of the vehicle or can you swing into a small coupe easily?
- Interior room – how many people do you need to carry on a regular or occasional basis? Are they kids where you have to put multiple car seats next to each other? Large gangly teenagers need more room than small fry. Are you or your partner tall/short/stocky? Do you need exceptional headroom/legroom/shoulder room?
- Technology – do you need to connect your phone to the car to make phone calls, check the weather, make reservations at restaurants, have a manufacturer’s cellular connected services automatically contact you if the vehicle relays that an accident has occurred, are charge ports for children’s phones and other devices important, will you need to keep them entertained with a DVD player? Do you want a vehicle that will do most of the driving for you?
- Cargo capacity – how much stuff do you carry, how much do others want to carry when they ride with you, what kinds of things do you carry (hockey sticks, bicycles, canoes)? Can you fit what you need inside the vehicle, or will it have to go on the roof of the vehicle?
- Safety – do you want the latest features that will brake a vehicle automatically if it senses a collision ahead, or if you drift into the lane next to you will it steer you back into your lane, warn you when you’re backing up into an object or if a car is passing behind you in a parking lot, automatically brake the vehicle to help avoid a collision?
- Cost – are you on a tight budget, comfortable spending to get what you want, or something in between?
- Resale value – in the future, when it comes time to trade this new vehicle in, will it retain some value, or depreciate like hot fudge sliding down the top of a sundae? Yes, it’s a little depressing to consider what your vehicle will be worth in four or five year’s time when you haven’t even purchased it yet, but it’s a good idea to know what a particular vehicle might be worth in the future. A great source for resale values is Kelly Blue Book (kbb.com).
This list is just a start to help you get the answer to, “What should I buy?”. Take a sheet of paper or create a note on your phone, and write ten things that are important to you on your next vehicle. Rank them in importance. Mark the ones you can’t live without, the ones that you would like to have, and the ones that you could live without. It’s rare that a vehicle is all things to one person, but you can get pretty darn close with more than 250+ vehicles for sale.
Great, now that you know what you need, want, and would like to have, let’s look at your choices among those 250+ vehicles:
- Small Sport Utility
- Mid-size Sport Utility
- Large Sport Utility
- Full Size Sport Utility
- Small Hatchback
- Subcompact Sedan
- Compact Sedan
- Mid-size Sedan
- Full-size Sedan
- Sports Car
- Compact Pickup Trucks
- Full-size Pickup Trucks
In very broad strokes, let’s look at the different categories, starting with comparing the advantages of sedans versus SUVs
- Have better fuel economy than SUVs since they don’t have the weight and bulk of the larger vehicle
- Are easier to maneuver because they’re generally smaller than SUVs, which can make them safer in an emergency avoidance situation
- Are generally less expense than their SUV counterparts
- Are generally more attractive than SUVs which tend to be fairly boxy (there are exceptions at higher price points of course)
- Smaller footprint makes it easier to park
- Can have exceptional performance and handling not available to SUVs because of their smaller size
- Are often quieter because of a smaller frontal area that ‘pushes’ the air and creates wind noise
- Are usually more comfortable with a smoother quieter ride than an SUV
- Usually more affordable than a similar SUV
- Maintenance costs can be lower
- Sedans can’t carry as much stuff as an SUV, of either passengers or cargo
- A lower driving position doesn’t provide the same visibility as that of an SUV
- Some only offered in either front wheel or rear wheel drive without the option of all wheel drive
- Not built for towing
- Higher driving position enhances vision
- Can usually carry more cargo
- Passengers generally have more interior room
- Are generally more expense than their sedan counterparts
- Usually offer four wheel drive for better traction and handling in slippery conditions
- SUVs have more capability to go off road or on terrain not suited to sedans
- Most are able to tow boats, snowmobiles
- Law of gross tonnage: SUVs are generally safer than sedans because of their size and weight
- Fuel economy suffers from an SUV’s weight
- Difficult to see around the vehicle because of its size
- More difficult to maneuver than a sedan because of its size
- Harder to park because of its size
Once you’ve decided on Sedan versus SUV, there are some broad categorizations that you can examine to help you decide what size vehicle will work best for you.
Small Vehicles vs Large Vehicles
Large Vehicles vs Small Vehicles
- Have lower fuel consumption
- Are easier to park and easier to maneuve
- Are generally less expensive
- Insurance costs may be lower
- Tend to not have as many technology features available (luxury imports excepted)
- Need to go to top trim levels to get things like proximity key, navigation, cellular connected services, adaptive cruise control
- Have a good variety of active and passive safety features
- Limited front head room, tight rear seat quarters
- Small cargo area
- Lower seating position, reducing visibility
- Law of gross tonnage: small vehicles are generally not as safe as larger vehicles
- Smaller towing capacity
- Engines are generally less powerful than larger vehicles
- Have higher fuel consumption
- Are harder to park and bulkier to maneuver
- Are generally more expensive
- Insurance costs may be higher
- Often offer a greater selection of technology and automated driving features
- Lower trim levels often offer greater array of convenience features like proximity key, navigation, adaptive cruise control
- Have a good variety of active and passive safety features
- Have more interior room
- Have more cargo space
- Have a higher seating position, improving visibility
- Law of gross tonnage: large vehicles are generally safer than smaller vehicles
- Greater towing capacity
- Engines are generally more powerful than smaller vehicles
You’ll come across terms like Sport Utility Vehicle, Crossover Utility Vehicle or Sports Activity Vehicle. Crossover Utility Vehicles are more car-like in terms of ride and capability. They may not be as suited to go off-road, but may be perfectly fine for a fairly rugged dirt road to that special fishing spot. Manufacturers like to come up with their own category names to differentiate their offerings from the competition. But you can pretty much be sure they’re in the category of SUVs.
What should you buy? Many moons ago, I purchased a new sports car. It put a smile on my face every day I got into it. Your new vehicle doesn’t have to be a sports car, but it should put a smile on your face.
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