Ok, so you are shopping for a car and need some advice. Here there are some FAQ's and a guideline. Let's start for the basics.
Should I buy brand-new or second hand?
It depends on your budget, of course, but you can get yourself an econobox for eight grand or so. And, surprisingly, a Seat Mii, for example, is a rather decent car. Sure, it ain't fast, but you get what you essentially need: air conditioning, a stereo, room for four and some luggage. It's also safe if you compare it with many second hand cars that won't have as many airbags, for example. Not to mention previous crashes.
There are some other reasons to buy brand new. Reliability, for instance. And no inspections for the first four years. If you really need your car to go to work, better bet on something that, at least, should work.
Second hand market is tough, but you could find yourself a bargain, especially with a petrol engine. Come to that, here's the second question
Should I buy diesel, petrol or hybrid?
If you are the kind of person who trades in the old car and gets a new one every three or four years, better get a diesel, even if you don't drive much. Devaluation is the key here, while both diesel and petrol cars lose value, the price gap between the two might double the difference when new.
A diesel is also recommended if you do lots of road or highway driving. Like, ten thousand miles a year is enough for you to compensate. If you drive a lot, but mostly around town and you get into traffic jams often, then a hybrid is a better option. You will get a great fuel economy and a very quiet interior. However, if you want a hybrid, you better like
or Lexus. No other car maker has
made a decent hybrid yet. Toyota
I still want a petrol car, is there anything I should know?
Yes. There are three or four different types of petrol engines. Turbo, supercharged, turbo AND supercharged and naturally aspired engines. Without going too technical, anything with a turbo will have a great fuel economy in good conditions, but a really, really poor fuel economy when pushed. That means if you like driving fast, any engine will drink a lot, but a turbo will skyrocket. You will be surprised how much gas a small turbo engine is able to use. Even if you don't drive fast, but must face a fair uphill when coming back home, that will put the turbo at work and will cost you money. Naturally aspired engines, on the other hand, may not be able to give you the torque of a turbo, but it will be less thirsty when floored. Supercharged engines will have torque, but poor fuel economy.
Should I buy a minivan or a SUV?
A minivan will tell the world you have common sense, it is more practical and will have a better fuel economy. But minivans are dead ugly, and there is no way around that. A SUV is more badass, it will have enough room for what you will really do and gives you a more alpha image. But, unless you have four kids and haul them around on a daily basis, go and get yourself a hatchback, because that is what you really need.
I have half a million bucks to spend on a car, should I buy a Bentley or a Rolls Royce?
I have a winged horse with a single horn in the forehead. And I call him Lucy, because why not. And if you really have half a million to spend on a car, let me tell you something. You are poor, you should have a million and get yourself a Bentley AND a Rolls Royce, use them both and then you will have all the info you need for your next car. Because I have yet to figure out if I prefer the Ghost or the Mulsanne.