What’s the best way to buy a car?

Well, first you need to know what you want from it. Do you need a car with good fuel economy, one that’s big enough for the whole family, or are you just after one that looks really cool on your driveway?

Whatever your priorities are for your new car, make sure you have them in mind when shopping around for one so that you can find what you need. You don’t want to end up with regretting such a big purchase once you get it home and realise it doesn’t have what you’re after.

So, when you’re deciding what car to buy, here are some of the features you might want to look for depending on your circumstances and preferences.

What size car suits your requirements? If you’re looking to buy a car that can easily drive through narrow city roads and park in tight spaces, then there are plenty of small, compact cars on the market. The best small cars are still nice and spacious inside and handle well on faster, open roads, too.

Remember that the best first cars are often also compact as they’re easier to handle when you’re first learning how to drive. So, if you’re deciding which car to buy for your teen on their 17th birthday when they start learning to drive, you should perhaps look towards smaller cars. Small cars can also be the most economical cars because they have lower running costs thanks to their size.

Interior space is a big factor if you have a large family that you regularly have to ferry about, as well as fitting shopping, luggage, and even pets in the boot. The best family cars have spacious interiors leaving plenty of room for three passengers in the back seat, plus lots of space in the boot. You might want to opt for a 7-seater car to get the extra passenger space needed for a larger family or to allow a few friends to tag along. The handy extra seats can fold down if you need the boot space.

Powerful sports cars with two seats might be off limits if you do have kids, but if space isn’t a factor for you and catching the eye of every passer-by is, then you can browse the best sports cars to match your high-flying lifestyle, too.

Similarly, if you’re regularly loading car seats and luggage into the back of your car, then a 3-door car might not be the best option. The best family cars should be practical, so a 5-door vehicle would be better suited, with parking assist to help squeeze into those rare parking spaces, even with back seat distractions. Otherwise, a 3-door car could give you a more compact and slightly cheaper alternative to buying a car.

You might also need to consider how you’ll use your car. An estate or SUV might be better if you love the great outdoors and need to transport climbing gear or a tent or two, for example. And if you plan on making long trips in your new car, you may want to think about the most economical cars that will help keep fuel costs down.

If you frequently go for long drives in your car, then comfort might be one of your main priorities when deciding which car to buy. For example, if you have a commute to work each day, you don’t want to be stuck in an uncomfortable car.Factors such as the interior material of the car, the amount of support the seats offer, and your driving position inside the car should all be considered.

The adjustability of the seat is also important, so that you can find the perfect position for driving.

Lots of cars on the market today have lots of customisation options, allowing you to pay extra for different trims, so you can opt for more comfortable interiors at an additional cost.

To most people, buying a car is a long-term investment. So, they want to choose a car that will stand the test of time and not let them down after they’ve owned it for a couple of years. If you’re looking for the best first car or are just starting a family, then you’ll want to buy a car that can last you a while, so you don’t have to fork out the cash for another one too soon, or for regular repairs.

Don’t automatically assume that the most expensive makes of cars will be the most reliable; plenty of the best small cars and family cars score high on reliability. Do some research into each car to assess its reliability, including reading reviews and consumer reports

If your main priority is saving money over the lifetime of your vehicle, then have a look at some of the most economical cars. Look for cars with good fuel economy and low carbon emissions to choose a vehicle that won’t break the bank to run. Ferraris and Lamborghinis might be some of the best sports cars out there, but they’re certainly not the most economical cars to run – not a problem if fuel costs aren’t an issue.

Look for lightweight vehicles to pick out the most economical cars and think about choosing a diesel engine which generally returns a better MPG than petrol options. Many new cars also come with additional features to help improve their economy, such as Start/Stop systems.

Affordability very much depends on your own circumstances – what can you comfortably manage to spend? When when you’re factoring in costs, don’t just think of the price of the vehicle, but also consider any additional charges and how much it costs to run. Low insurance cars can help you to reduce the costs of keeping your car on the road, as can a good MPG.

Factors such as the initial value of the car, the cost of its parts in case of repair, the car’s performance, and how secure it is all play a part in deciding the insurance costs of the vehicle. Buying a vehicle from a low insurance car group can certainly result in big cost savings, year after year and there are other things that you can do to try to lower the cost of insuring your car.

Safety should be a priority for any car buyer, but especially if you’re looking for the best family car or the best first car. You don’t want to take risks on the safety of your vehicle when you’ve got children in the back seat and as a new driver, additional safety features will provide some of the confidence you need on your new automotive adventures! Assess the safety features when deciding what car to buy.

Modern cars tend to have lots of advanced features, such as park assist, ABS, blind spot warning systems and tyre pressure monitoring systems, as well as multiple airbags around the inside of the car.

Think about the exterior of the vehicle, too, and how strong and stable it is, indicating how well it will hold up against impact. When considering the best family cars, many models will have Isofix points in the back of the car so you can easily and securely fit a child’s car seat.

A helpful safety feature in all cars, not just the best first cars, is Bluetooth® connectivity which removes the temptation to fiddle with your mobile phone while on the move.

Whatever your requirements and priorities are when deciding what car to buy, there’s sure to be something out there that suits you. These are some of the most important factors to look for when buying a car, so decide which ones top your list of priorities before you start to shop around.

Find out more

Best first cars
Best small cars
Best family cars

Best sports cars
Most economical cars
low insurance cars