The Perfect Car Just Doesn't Suck

How to Choose the Right Car for You

While finding the right car can be fairly easy it does take a little bit of time and research. Once a person has decided on the type of car they want they need to then decide whether to buy a new car or a used car or to lease.

Anyone uncertain or having questions can receive assistance free of charge from the Edmunds Shopper Advice team, or choose to get help from an Edmunds car shopping advisor regardless of how far through the process of shopping for a car they are.

The following tips are designed to help people to decide which is the right car for them:

  1. Consider Specific Requirements

woman with car keys

While almost everyone has that dream car that they would love to own, practicality is more likely to dictate the car they end up buying. This doesn’t mean that when circumstances change they can’t still buy that flashy vehicle, but current circumstances need to take precedence.

Here are some things to consider when choosing a car that will suit current condition:

  • How many people will be carried in the car? How many of them are small children requiring child car seats?
  • Will the car be driven mostly on freeways or surface streets?
  • What weather conditions will the car be driven in? i.e. snow, ice, rain
  • How many miles a day will the car be driven? Fuel economy will be an important factor for anyone who has a long daily commute
  • Is four wheel drive necessary?
  • Will the vehicle be used for towing?
  • Is there a need for a large amount of cargo space?
  • What is the minimum safety features required?
  • Will the vehicle fit in the available garage space?
  1. Have a Budgeted Amount in Mind

Whether paying cash, leasing or financing a car a person should have a clear idea as to the amount they can afford and are willing to spend. If choosing the financing option the payments need to be manageable. The general rule of thumb is that the amount a person pays monthly for a car should not be more than 20% of their monthly income after taxes.

Trying to figure out how much a person can afford in monthly payments can be confusing, so Edmunds have some handy tools that are designed to help take the mystery out of auto financing. When searching for a car a person can use the filters to narrow the search down to the year, make and model of the car they want to buy. By doing this they can then see which cars may have special offers and calculate what the total guaranteed price of the car is going to be.

Searchers can use the Edmunds True Market Value (TMV) tool to compare prices being paid by other buyers of that specific vehicle. Once all of that has been completed the prospective buyer can use the Edmunds Car Affordability calculator to estimate how much the monthly payment on that car would be.

  1. Lease or Purchase

There are advantages and disadvantages associated with both purchasing and leasing and how a person feels about each of these options is very likely to influence their decision. While obtaining a lease on a car requires little initial outlay and the monthly payments tend to be smaller than financing to purchase, once the lease reaches its termination date the lessee is left without a vehicle and will have to go through the entire lease / purchase process all over again.

When financing to purchase a car can require some significant money up front, and the payments may be considerably higher than the monthly payments on a leased vehicle, the buyer gets to keep the car once all the payments have been made. The owner of the car can then choose to either trade up to another vehicle or keep the car and continue to drive it.

There are some other factors to take into account when deciding between leasing and purchasing, as follows:


  • The lessee gets to drive a more expensive car for less money
  • The lessee gets to drive a new car every few years, taking advantage of all the latest technology
  • At the end of the lease the lessee does not have to concern themselves with trading in the car


  • There is more flexibility over when the car gets sold
  • The buyer can make modifications to the vehicle if they wish
  • Long distance commuters will not be penalized for driving excessive miles
  • Over the long term the buyer will pay less in car expenses

If a person is still unable to make a decision about whether to lease or buy the numbers are likely to be the deciding factor. Running figures through the Edmunds Auto Calculators to compare the monthly payments of both options will provide a person with the information required to make a financial decision.

  1. Consider similar makes and models

car key

Unless a person is committed to a particular year, make and model other similar vehicles in the same class should not be ruled out. Many car shoppers enter a dealership with a clear idea of what they want and end up driving out in something that actually suits them better. The auto market is forever changing, with new models hitting showroom floors on a regular basis. Researching and comparing similar cars is easy at

Even if convinced that nothing but the year, make and model chosen will do it is always a wise investment of time to compare other vehicles in the same class just in case there is a car that has not been previously considered but suits a person even better than their initial choice. provides a Car Finder tool that allows the researcher to filter down to the features that matter to them the most. Comparisons between features, specifications, pricing and options are all very easy to do with the Edmunds Car Finder tool. For anyone who really has no idea where to start the Edmunds New Car Buying Guides is an excellent place to begin!