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Buying a car

Choosing the best type of car for you

13 December 2019

Buying a new car can make you feel like a whole new person. As one of the larger purchases you’re likely to make, choosing the right one is important. But where do you start with so many options on the market? Big and burly or small and sporty? Do you need a lot of boot space? Are red cars really faster? It can feel overwhelming.

Technology and trends are constantly evolving as our cars get more advanced and the decisions get more complicated. That’s why the combination of some practical thinking and following your heart can help you get the balance right.

The reality check vs. the dream

So your partner wants a sportscar for zipping around the city, and you want an off-roader for weekend escapes. How do you decide on the best car for your needs and budget? Chances are, you’ll both need to adjust your expectations a bit and meet somewhere in the middle. Buying your huge 4WD and just painting some sporty stripes down the side probably won’t count as an acceptable compromise.

If you’re making this decision with someone else and finding it difficult, start by sitting down and writing individual ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ lists, then compare.

You’ll probably be guided by your budget, so work out how much you’re willing to spend, as well as the expected ongoing costs of the car. This is something people often leave out when creating a budget, but it’s important. A new car may mean a higher insurance premium, different fuel costs or different service requirements.

While you may be tempted by something fast and stylish, make sure you do a reality check. Research similar cars that fall within your budget. You may be surprised to find exactly what you need.

Creating your shortlist

Gone are the days of spending weeks visiting dozens of different car dealers to find the perfect car. All the research tools you need are a click away, in the form of online car guides including specs, images and videos. They make it easier than ever to compile a shortlist.

Make a list of your top 4 or 5 cars along with their main features and costs, then set out to see them in the flesh (or in the metal, so to speak).

Online research won’t totally replace an in-person inspection, but it’ll help you narrow down your options so you don’t spend every consecutive weekend for two months doing test drives. Of course, if you enjoy that sort of thing, go crazy. It’s your weekend, after all.

Fuel economy

If you spend a lot of time on the road, you know just how much the cost of petrol can eat into your weekly budget. That’s why it’s worth considering how you’re likely to use your car and the ongoing fuel costs you’ll need to cover. If it’s just you on the road, opting for a smaller, more energy efficient model could be a smart choice for your wallet. It’s not a bad choice for the environment either.


Ask yourself: what do I actually need my car for? If you live in the city and only drive your car once a week to get groceries, a huge 7-seater all-wheel-drive probably isn’t necessary. Likewise, if you live in a rural area at the end of a dirt road, that shiny black car might look beautiful on the showroom floor, but it won’t look that way after a few trips down the dusty driveway.

Think about how you’re likely to use your car, and what you’ll need out of it.

The right choice

Once you’ve taken stock of your needs and ruled out some less practical options, you’re probably closer to finding the right car for your circumstances. Great! An impractical car that doesn’t meet your day-to-day needs is likely to disappoint you in the long run, especially if it’s on the more expensive side. 

Saving up for new wheels?

Suncorp Bank can make things easier. By selecting a higher interest account like the Growth Saver Account, you could be rewarded for your regular saving with bonus interest, and you can apply online in just a few minutes.

Discover the Growth Saver Account

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