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Which car should I buy?

Do you have a baby on the way or do you just want to upgrade your car? Here are some things to think about when choosing the right model for you.

Modern cars are all reliable, well-designed, efficient and safe - and can cope with anything life throws at them. You could probably buy any of the cars we have for sale and be perfectly happy with it. But choosing a car is about more than making do. A large family might be able to squeeze into a Ford Focus, but a Skoda Kodiaq would be more comfortable. And a motorway commuter might just about manage with a little Citroen C1, but the more powerful Peugeot 508 would make for more relaxing Monday mornings.

So think carefully about what you really need. Think about the journeys you’re going to make in this car, and the things you’re going to do in it. Whether you’re a retiree trading in the family Volvo for something a bit smaller or a young family who needs extra room for Baby Number 3, it’s important to buy the ideal car, rather than one that will simply do the job. 

All our cars are brilliant, but among them is the one that’s perfect for you.

Do you just need a little runabout?

Think about the kind of journeys that you make. The majority of Brits travel only a few miles per day, on average, with trips to work and to the shops forming the bulk of our travel plans. There are plenty of cars designed and built specifically for this kind of trip, especially smaller electric or petrol hatchbacks. These are perfect for urban and suburban driving, and perfect for people who only cover small distances.

One of the key things to consider here is engine size. Smaller engines - around 1.6 litres or less - are great for shorter trips, helping you to nip along in traffic without burning too much fuel. Generally, cars with smaller engines are cheaper to insure as well. But they can start to feel a bit out of their depth on longer, faster trips.

Do you want something for the motorway?

If you normally drive on faster roads, or if you often take long journeys from one end of the country to the other, it’s probably unwise to get a car with a smaller engine. You could end up spending more on fuel than you would in a car with a 2.0-litre engine, for example, and there could be maintenance implications further down the line if you put a lot of strain on a smaller car. 

Motorway commuters might want to consider a diesel car. Generally speaking, it’s not worth buying a diesel car if you drive less than 12,000 miles a year, with many drivers only getting savings from diesel if they drive more than 20,000 miles a year. Diesel cars need a bit less fuel than petrol cars, but are bigger and heavier, and often more expensive to buy. But if you drive tens of thousands of miles on the motorway, then a diesel engine is probably what you should be considering.

Do you need something a bit bigger?

Most cars have five seats. That’s two in the front, for the driver and passenger, and three in the back. Rear passengers don’t always have as much legroom as they’d like and whoever gets the middle seat often gets a raw deal. 

If you need to carry grown-up passengers in the back seats, think carefully about the kind of car you want. We’d recommend a five-door instead of a two-door so your passengers don’t have to clamber awkwardly past the front seats to get into the back, and it may be best to go for an SUV or large estate car.

Should you buy an SUV?

Families love SUVs. Their size and shape makes them feel safe and secure, and their raised seating and wide-opening doors make it easy to fit child seats. They tend to come with big boots, lots of storage, rugged interiors and other family-friendly features that their designers have thought up. 

And there are lots of used SUVs on the market, giving families plenty to choose from. Cars like the Nissan Qashqai are extremely popular, while models like the Mazda CX-5 are a bit more unusual but still great for families. Modern SUVs are efficient, practical and reliable. They make fantastic family cars.

Should you buy an estate car?

But while SUVs are good, estate cars are often even better. Offering just as much space as an SUV - often much more - an estate car is a practical choice for families. They can be much less expensive than SUVs, like-for-like, and are usually more fuel efficient thanks to their more aerodynamic design. 

Like SUVs, there are lots of used estate cars on the market. They’re lower to the ground, which can be an advantage if you have a dog, and often easier to drive and park in urban areas than SUVs.

Should I buy an electric vehicle (EV)?

Electric cars are better now than they’ve ever been. Bigger batteries mean longer ranges, which means more miles between charges. And with electric charging stations popping up all over the country, there’s never been a better time to make the ‘switch’ to EVs. 

If you have a private driveway where you can plug your car in overnight and you drive less than 100 miles a day, an electric car could be the perfect solution to your motoring needs. EVs are cheap to run and maintain, especially if you only ever charge them up at home, but above all they’re great to drive - quiet, comfortable and extremely fast when you put your foot down. 

You can confidently consider going electric if you have your own driveway or somewhere to charge up cheaply or for free at work. Electric cars are also great if you regularly make short trips and generally drive less than 100 miles per day. We’ve answered a lot of your questions about EV ownership here.

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