Cars are expensive. That probably goes without saying, but when the lifetime cost of a car can put a working-class family in the poor house (if such houses still existed), then purchasing one requires some extremely careful consideration.
But how can you decide what car to buy when there are so many options? Compact? Midsize? Full-size? SUV? Crossover? Subcompact SUV/Crossover Plug-In Electric Hybrid people movers?! What does it all mean?!
Well, take a deep breath, sit back, and relax. We’re going to get through this together. And to start, we’ll go straight from the bottom all the way to the top of the income scale. Because millionaires have to make rational decisions on what cars they buy too, right?
Let’s say you’re a working class person with a very limited budget. You want to buy a new car, but even the sticker price on a new vehicle is a prohibitively high number. Follow that up with gas, insurance, expected maintenance costs, and whatever fees happen in your state, and it can look awfully bleak.
Never fear. There are several options available for those with little means. To start, look at used cars. Most cars are expected to last at least five years with moderate maintenance, but cars still lose quite a bit of value three years after arriving on the showroom floor. A decent used car will save you thousands of dollars if you can’t afford the up-front cost of something new, but be prepared for an unforeseen technical issue down the road.
If the risk of a random breakdown is too much for you, take a look at the Hyundai Elantra. Hyundai’s have come a very long way since a decade ago. No longer considered cheap, throw-away cars, Hyundais are durable and reliable. For that reason, Hyundai offers a class-leading 10-year powertrain warranty to keep you covered well into the future. Kelley Blue Books lists Hyundai as one of their top companies, and the Elantra as one of the best compact cars to buy new for their low maintenance costs.
But let’s say you’re less of a regular car kinda person and you’re desperate for some bigger wheels. Or maybe your town is so cash-strapped they haven’t been able to replace their roads for decades and you’re basically driving in pot-holed gravel. For an SUV, it’s hard to beat a Subaru Forester. Standard all-wheel drive, phenomenal fuel economy, all the space you’d expect from an SUV (even a compact one), and best of all, an MSRP of below $23,000.
Now, what if the Forester doesn’t give you enough storage. What if you need to haul more than just people, and it doesn’t matter if they rattle around in the back of a truck bed? Then the Toyota Tacoma is probably the pickup of choice. Cheaper than the larger Ford F150, it offers nearly all the towing capacity but saves you thousands on the initial bill, gas, and insurance.
For those worried about our dear mother Earth, buying a car can be doubly troublesome. You want to do right by the planet and not burn a bunch of dead dinosaurs to get to work, but buying an electric car is ridiculously expensive. Or at least, it used to be. Now there are a few electric models on the market and not all of them will require you to mortgage your house.
Nissan’s LEAF is definitely the cheapest electric car you can find at the moment. The range has always been the biggest concern with electric cars, but at 151 miles the LEAF can certainly get you anywhere you need to go outside of a cross-country road trip. With an MSRP of just under $30,000, and potentially much cheaper with government incentives, the LEAF will save the planet as much as it saves you gas money.
And lest we forget the miserable 1 percent. Actually, let’s say you’re more of a 2 percent guy, and you’re jealous of all the insane supercars your 1 percent friends keep showing off. You want something that can put them in their place, but you can’t actually afford to spend half a million dollars on a car.
There’s only one solution: the Chevrolet Corvette Z06. This car punches way above its price class, taking on and defeating cars that are three times as expensive. All that performance doesn’t come at the expense of a luxurious interior, as the Z06 has all the comfort and stylings of a European sports car but at a fraction of the price.
The next time your neighbor rolls up in his fancy Lamborghini, make him eat your ‘Vette’s dust.