Picking just the perfect car for you and/or your family is a pretty important task, and not a lot of customers really know what is it exactly that they want. Sure, they can name you a few sport cars, a few trucks, et cetera, et cetera, but when it comes to purchasing a walking-talking vehicle, they all seem to hit that wall of doubt. That’s ok, though, because the market today is dominated by top-notch models and you can’t go 100% wrong. No matter which one you end up buying, you’ll still get a pretty decent deal and an all-around solid car. On the other hand, this might be the car for you for the next 10 to 20 to infinity years, and that means you better try and make the most of it, because the next thing you know you’ll start regretting your pick and blaming yourself and everybody else for the bad choice.
The Perfect Car For You: Figuring Out The “Yes” And The “No”
So, in order to figure out your ideal vehicle, you need to take a long, honest look at what’s really important to you and your loved ones. Simply start by asking yourself some basic, but very important questions, like how much are you ready to pay, do you want fuel-efficiency or strong performance, how many folks will the vehicle have to carry, how big of a cargo space y’all need, and, of course, what kind of a car do you want – a sedan, a truck, a crossover SUV, a minivan? Those are the basic questions you gotta ask yourself and make a list of pros and cons in order to be as objective and realistic as one can be. I gotta say that after you’ve compiled that list of “Yes” and “No”, you can go to the nearest dealership and ask the salesperson to pick just the perfect ride for you based on your preferences.
Don’t Let The Salespeople Fool You
However, I wouldn’t strongly recommend that as, even though the majority of salespeople at the official dealerships these days are decent human beings and won’t sell you something completely unusable, they’ll still try to manipulate you into buying the most expensive model and/or the most high-end (and pricey) trim – that’s just what they do. Sure, a fully-equipped Toyota Camry or Honda Accord does look and feel pretty good, but most of the time you won’t even need those fancy features, so, that would be a waste of your hard-earned money – plain and simple. My advice would be to read through my article and learn a bit about how this whole thing works and make another list with all the mighty contestants and possible picks. Don’t worry, I’ll tell you about the best models in each category that will give you the ultimate experience on the road.
Question #1 – How Big Is Your Family?
So, first of all, let’s see how many folks you’ll be driving around on a daily basis: generally, most cars can take in as much as five passengers, however, the center-rear seat is often pretty uncomfortable and you can’t really use it in long travels. If you’re got a big-happy family, look for a perfect car that comes with a 3rd-row seat. And in this case the minivans are your best friends; the majority of SUVs nowadays can carry up to 7 people as well, sometimes even 8. Still, I have to say that in the case of SUVs the third seat row is quite small and only suited for your kids – a grown-up won’t feel cozy in there. So, if you know you’ll have adult passengers in the back, go for a minivan or a full-size SUV. If you ever owned a 2-door coupe then you know how frustrating it is to bend and twist every time you wanna get into those tiny back seats. Why not fold the front seat forward to load the groceries, you say? Come on, it’s not a permanent solution, and you know it better than me.
The Perfect Car For You: The Best Minivan On The Market
Alright, so, if you want to enjoy your ride on the back seats with plenty of leg- and head-room to mess around, the following models can offer you the best experience on the market: first of all, take a look at what Toyota has in stores for you – they’re considered the leading brand when it comes to family-oriented cars. If you’re a minivan type of guy, Sienna is your best pick out there. It doesn’t get much better than this powerful, roomy, comfortable and fuel-efficient model, period. With seating for 8 people and a starting price of 29K you’ll get a pretty sweat deal. Oh, and it looks good, too. As for cargo capacity, the Sienna offers class-leading room for your groceries – 150 cubic feet; however, to get that much capacity you’ll have to let go of the 2nd-row seats – they are pretty heavy and it will take you a while to get used to the mechanics.
The Perfect Car For You: The Best Crossover SUV and Wagon On The Market
On the other hand, if you’re in the market for a 3-row crossover SUV, check out the Highlander. You’ve got a starting price of 30K, seating for 8, a mighty engine and killer looks. In my book that earns a car the top spot on the pedestal. Well, according to the regular year-end sales charts, the US customers think so too. Max cargo capacity with the latest Highlander is 83.7 cubic feet with the back seats folded, which is an average result for a 3-row crossover SUV. The height-adjustable power liftgate, on the other hand, is a God sent if you’re got a garage with a low ceiling. Finally, the third family-friendly model from the Japanese brand is, of course, the Prius V: seating for 5, a comfortable interior, impressive mileage and class-leading cargo capacity (there are 34.3 cubic feet behind the back seats, and overall you’ve got 67.3 at your disposal, which is more than the majority of small crossover SUVs/wagons can offer). Add in a lower price (26.5K), and you’ll get the ideal choice if you’re a bit low on the budget right now and are looking for an affordable model.
As for the competition, you’ve got the latest Honda Odyssey as the biggest rival to the Toyota Sienna (similar pricing, features and mileage), with Kia’s Sedona and Nissan’s Quest on the 2nd and 3rd place. The Highlander is, again, fighting against a Honda model – the Pilot – which is considered by many to be the best full-size crossover SUV on the market. It’s fully redesigned for 2016, so, go check it out. Ford Explorer is another great pick (also updated this year) and boasts attractive looks, a mighty turbocharged V6, top-quality materials and decent MPG. The legendary Prius V also has a couple of super-strong opponents: the biggest rival is Ford’s C-MAX Hybrid, which offers stronger acceleration, better handling, a cozier interior and generally a more attractive overall design. However, it’s not as impressive when it come to cargo capacity. The Volkswagen Golf SportWagen TDI is another good alternative of perfect car and provides pretty much the same awesome list of features as the other two.
Question #2 – Fuel-Efficiency Or Strong Performance?
The great thing about the industry today is that the majority of automakers offer a choice between 2-3 engines for each model and that allows you to go with exactly what you need. How do you do that? Well, that depends entirely on your preferences and needs. Ask yourself: is fuel-efficiency the most important thing for you, or maybe you’re a fan of strong performance? Generally, small compact cars and mid-sized crossover SUVS, along with sedans and wagons come packed with four-cylinder units. They’re great at fuel economy; however, they’re not a match for the V6 engines when it comes to power and smooth ride quality. Thankfully, several anufacturers today managed to squeeze the most out of their 4-cyl engines, and so, family-friendly mid-size sedans, like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord are pretty strong and conquer those hills without even breaking a sweat.
The Perfect Car For You: Turbocharged Engines – The Golden Middle
It’s safe to say that the technology of turbo charging is the next big thing these days as the major companies all over the world are trying to get more performance from their engines without any significant drops in fuel-efficiency. Take Germany’s own Mercedes and BMW, for example: they let go of their standard-level 6-cylinders and switched them with more powerful and efficient turbocharged 4-cyl engines. Ford, one of Detroit’s finest, also offers a V6 in the latest F150 that’s as strong as a V8. On the other hand, V6 engines usually “drink” more fuel than 4-cyls. But, they’re smoother, quieter and are generally stronger. V8s are the strongest of them all, but, when it comes to mileage, they’re not nearly as impressive. V8 engines used to be a prerogative of sporty cars, luxury models and full-size SUVs and pick-up trucks; today they’re also available in some mid-size sedans, although I’m not really sure why somebody would want to own a sedan with a V8. At the end of the day a V8 is the perfect choice if your car is a workhorse and you tow heavy loads 5 days a week.
So, there you go – my take on the ins and outs of picking just the perfect car for you and your family. Keep your head in the game, learn about the offers on the market, make a list of pros and cons and never let the dealer fool you into buying something you don’t need.
Check out this video: How to find the perfect family car – Auto Trader’s top five tips.