Choosing the Right First Car for Your Needs

Couple looking at a new car

There’s more to choosing the right car than looking at its price tag. Some of the factors that influence the right choice of a starter vehicle include its lifetime costs and how well a car fits your transportation needs.

What is the best first car for me?” There is no one right answer to that question that fits everyone, but many of the cars that fit one category often meet many others, which make it easier for aspiring motorists to select a car that meets most of their major needs. The car selection process requires careful research and an assessment of your financial options.

The Vehicle’s Purpose

The ideal car for someone is a vehicle model that fits their budget while meeting all of their important transportation needs. This will vary from person to person; your needs may not be the same as someone else’s based on your income, lifestyle, and the primary purpose your car would serve. Is your car for commuting or is it to help you run a business?

Carefully analysing your specific needs can go a long way in helping you identify the right brand and model that’s right for you. You might, for instance, favour a subcompact city car if you only need your car for the daily commute to work, whereas you might need to get a light truck if your job or business requires you to haul freight.

The Price is Right

Price is perhaps one of the most important considerations in selecting a vehicle. However, this should not be limited to just choosing the cheapest vehicle available. Key considerations besides the price tag include projected repair and maintenance costs along with the long-term costs of fuel. A car that’s economical will have the lowest estimated costs over the course of your ownership of it; an excellent car is both relatively inexpensive and easy to maintain. Likewise, some vehicles might seem cheaper at first but may be inefficient or unreliable, making them more expensive in the long run.

There are many affordable vehicle options available for the NZ driver. New cars may be less likely to need periodic maintenance but might be costlier initially, though affordable compact brands exist to fill that need. High turnover rates also mean that plenty of newer used cars—including compact brands like Kia—from newer and more reliable models often give comparable performance to brand new cars without the hefty price tag.

Another factor includes the fuel economy. Smaller cars may be more economical with fuel when driving in the city, but constant long-distance drives in motorways may require trucks and vans that run on diesel. Engine efficiency is a key consideration; modern 4- and 6-cylinder engines often deliver better performance and fuel economy than their older counterparts. If projected gas prices have you worried, an electric or hybrid vehicle may also be a practical choice.

The Comfort Principle

Car salesman explaining specs of car to client

Ideally, you should also choose a car that’s comfortable to ride in. When narrowing down your choice of vehicles, comfort and capacity should be among the deciding factors presuming everything else is equal. After all, you’d be riding in that car for hours at a time.

Size also matters, especially when deciding based on comfort and carrying capacity, though not always in the way that you think. People are usually inclined to pick a bigger car when looking for a roomy vehicle, but this isn’t always the case. An inexpensive yet efficient car might look small on the outside but may prove to be immensely roomy on the inside. Because of this, it is recommended that you ask to enter a prospective vehicle to see if it’s sufficiently roomy.

However, there are times when bigger may work better. Although a two-door compact may work for you and your partner when you’re just starting out, you might think twice if you’re already in the family way.