A lot more can go into selecting a new family car than you might presume up front. If you want a vehicle that has all the features you love, you’ll have to put time and energy into researching the best models for your needs.
Car shopping is a lot easier if you know what kind of car you desire. The make, model, size, and gas mileage can all support or detract from your eventual satisfaction. As you research top-ranked cars, you’d be wise to weigh these seven factors before signing the papers.
You probably know how many seats you need now, but don’t overlook the potential for an expanding family. If you often have your kids’ friends in your car or plan to host visitors often, more seats might be desirable.
Don’t forget about size for utility purposes, as well. For example, many mid-sized SUVs contain only five seats, but they have more cargo space. A four-door pickup also has five or six seats with more room for hauling. Don’t neglect these options in your research.
- Fuel Efficiency
Whether you’re concerned about helping the environment or not, fuel efficiency may well be a priority. At the very least, it will save a lot of money if — no, when — gas prices rise.
Smaller, more compact cars will have the best fuel efficiency, but they won’t necessarily meet your family’s needs. Fortunately, newer cars are designed with fuel efficiency in mind.
Some are equipped with an eco-boost that slightly reduces engine power when you don’t need it but uses less fuel. You can turn the button off when you need full power.
Vehicles that come with eco-boost might be more expensive initially, but figure in the cost savings you’ll enjoy with a more efficient vehicle over time.
- Extra Features
Cars today are brimming with extra features … some more than others. You can order dual climate control, satellite radio, touch-screen console, built-in DVD players, extra cup holders, electric seat shifters, heated seats, and many more options.
Such extras will drive up the price, but they don’t necessarily increase the car’s value. So consider your priorities.
For some drivers, the extra features come in a distant second to the make, model, and gas mileage. But others regard special features as the most important items governing their purchase decision.
Defining your budget entails more than setting the maximum amount you can spend. You might qualify for a high amount, but the monthly payments could be just as crucial; they might be more than you want to spend.
When you’re shopping around, calculate the monthly payments, including interest. Those calculations may narrow your choices, and make it easier to settle on the best one.
- Intended Use
Run through your regular activities before choosing a vehicle that will work for your family. You need to decide both the kind of vehicle you want and the shape it’s in. For example, you won’t want a vehicle that has high miles if you plan to do a lot of traveling with your family car.
If you’re the kind of family that runs between soccer games on the weeknights, a minivan may be an ideal purchase. But if your family also likes to explore the backwoods on weekends, you might be better suited to purchase a suburban or SUV with third-row seating.
Ideally, we’d all pay cash for a vehicle, so we wouldn’t have a car payment. However, most of us settle for a car payment because it’s the only way to acquire a decent vehicle.
If you’re planning to finance your purchase, study current interest rates so you know a lender won’t try to take advantage of you. If you’re planning on taking out a loan from a bank, credit union, or an auto dealership, you want to be sure you’ll get a good deal.
Don’t forget that your interest rate and ability to qualify for a loan will vary depending on your credit score, the age of the vehicle, the mileage, and regional factors.
- Make a Deal
Were you aware that the prices you see in car lots aren’t set in stone? Prices are typically set to negotiate, so make an attempt to lower the final number when you find the car you crave.
Negotiating requires finesse. Don’t give away your entire hand because the dealer will know how much you’re willing to pay.
However, if you say the vehicle is worth a lower price to you based on a list of sensible reasons, the dealer will often work with you to settle on a better price.
If you have a vehicle to trade in, that can also reduce the asking price because it means the seller stands to make another profit. Keep in mind that you’re more likely to get more money for your old vehicle if you sell it yourself, but it’s easier simply to trade it in.
Buying a family vehicle can be a stressful proposition, but it doesn’t have to be. The above suggestions will put you well on your way to purchasing the vehicle your family needs and will love.