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In Need of a Family Car? Here’s the Ultimate SUV Buying Guide

The question of whether to buy a new car or keep your family in your old one is a question as old as time. However, if your family is unhappy with your current vehicle, you might need some more space and that’s where you’ll need the perfect SUV buying guide. We’ve got you covered with everything you need to think about when shopping for your SUV.

Here are the four most important things to keep in mind.

1. Consider Your Profile

You need to start your search for the perfect SUV by defining who you are as a driver as an SUV owner. Everyone has their own needs for a given car and there are different things that apply to you depending on where you are, what your family does, and where you go.

For a single driver who is going to use their SUV to commute through treacherous weather, you need energy efficiency. You need something that’s strong enough to get you out of a ditch or a snowstorm without wasting gas on space that you don’t use.

If you’re traveling to work along Monday through Friday and then taking your family skiing on the weekend, you’ll need a particular type of vehicle. While it might seem big for you driving alone, taking a family of four with four sets of skis on top of the vehicle requires a lot of space. You also need that storage space in the back for luggage or for the family dog.

Some drivers are looking for luxury and there are plenty of options for drivers like that. If you’re looking to go for a fun drive with a friend or two, take them in a luxury car with leather seats and a great sound system.

It all depends on how you plan to spend your time in the vehicle. This is going to start narrowing down your search by vehicle type, size, make, and even model.

2. What Can You Afford?

While some people are able to pull out a wad of cash when it’s time to buy a new vehicle, that’s not everyone’s situation. When you’re thinking about getting a new car, you need to think about financing. Paying for a lease is going to be a drag on your family’s monthly budget if you don’t plan carefully.

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If you’re already at the edge of your budget with your current car, you might have to sit down and put your current financial situation on paper. If you’ve got an older car that’s causing you to head to the shop every few months, then you can wave that line item goodbye. When you get a new car, you don’t have to think about that anymore.

Families who struggle to consider financing a new car must remember that they can get financing for a used car as easily as a new car. So long as your used car isn’t eating up 10% of your monthly income or more, you should be able to swing it. Consider that fuel, oil changes, and incidentals are going to take up potentially another 7% of your budget.

When you’re shopping, don’t be afraid to negotiate. You should have a soft limit and a hard limit. If you’d prefer to pay less, for a number close to your soft limit but if that number can only go as low as your hard limit, then it still fits your budget.

3. Making the Choice to Lease or Buy

When you’re making your final decision on your car, you’ll need to choose whether to lease or to buy. Understanding the difference is key.

When you lease an SUV, you’re able to get the vehicle with little to no money put down in advance. You’ll also end up with lower monthly payments than you’d be putting up with on a car you’d choose to buy. However, when the lease ends, you’ll be stuck without a car and you’ll have to shop for a car all over again.

Leasing allows you to drive an expensive car while paying less money down, so if you’re a gearhead who loves new cars, this is a great option. The factory warranty is going to handle your major repairs, keeping you free to hold onto your money.

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Buying a car outright is a lot more expensive up front with much higher monthly payments than you’d deal with while leasing. However, once you pay that loan off, you own the car that you drive and can keep it as long as it continues to get you where you need to go.

When you buy the car, you can modify the car to your needs and then sell it whenever you feel like it. Leasing keeps you beholden to a mileage limit, which is no fun for people who love long drives.

4. Use Your Test Drive Wisely

When you finally get behind the wheel of the car you’ve been dreaming about on paper, you can’t let what you’ve read cloud your judgment.

Once you’re in the driver’s seat, you need to take this car to the edges of normal driving to see what it’s like. Get into some stop-and-go traffic. Take it over bumps, around corners, and give the brakes a test in a safe area.

Whether buying or leasing, make sure you get a feel for this car before you commit. The people who’ve said or written nice things about this car online aren’t you and don’t know your family’s needs. Come with some measurements of gear you need to transport and use a tape measure to make sure your stuff fits.

If you want to book a test drive or shop now, most dealerships give you the opportunity.

No SUV Buying Guide is Complete Without Taste

Ultimately, you’re going to have to really like the SUV that you end up with. You’re going to be spending hours behind the wheel every year, getting to know all the best and worst the vehicle has to offer. Make sure you stick to this SUV buying guide to find the car for you.

If you’re looking for some killer upgrades to make to your vehicle, check out our latest guide.