Efficiency of Mileage
Cosmetics / Comfort
Safety being the number one need because if a car is not safe you might not make it to your destination. It not only has to be safe to control but, safe after an accident. There are many resources on the web but the top ones for me are National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Consumer Reports, and SafeCar.
Reliability ranks high with me. If your car is always in the shop it cost you more money spending on the repair and more time wasted which usually decreases your productivity. Consumer Reports does a good job of this in the April issue. Consumer Reports also break down reliability based upon sections of the car so you can make a educated decision about a vehicle. A engine or transmission may rank low for a model while another model may just have low ranking trim.
A British web site Car Reliability Index is my favorite because it factors not just how many times the car breaks down. They factor in cost of repairs (#4 on my list), time being repaired, and average age and mileage of models monitored.
I drive 66 miles a day round trip to work so Efficiency (MPG or equivalent if a alternative fuel is used) is important for me. It may not be a big deal if you travel 10 miles round trip. Another need may out weigh this factor if you need a truck for your work or lifestyle. Using a web site like fueleconomy.gov is great for this if you are comparing a couple of models.
Cosmetics and comfort are the least of my needs but are still a factor. If you are over 6 ft tall a small car may be fuel efficient and still not be for you if you are always uncomfortable. Always test drive the vehicle to eliminate this overlooked factor.
Move Up In Car Value
Needs can move you up in car value. Consider the depreciation factor and you can move up in cars without much cost.
Above is one of the cars I’d like to own in my lifetime. $29,500 was the list price for the 944 Turbo in 1986. (With inflation that is $62,850 2013 dollars. as per US Inflation Calculator)
I just found a used 1984 Porsche 944 for $6,826 (109K miles) with a quick internet search. Look at the dollar value the car is going for about 1/10th of it’s original value, This car is now more affordable.
I know the late model Porsche is not on everyone’s favorite car list. Yours may be a different model but, the concept is still the same.
A recent article in Popular Mechanics pointed the same point – (see: 8 Hot Used Cars on Sale for Pennies on the Dollar)
The bottom line is you don’t have to alter your lifestyle to make good economic choices, you just have to put some thought into the choices you make.