Whether you’re wanting to get in on the SUV craze with a Mazda CX-30, or prefer a more traditional set of wheels like a sedan from Hyundai, there is a lot that goes into buying a new car. But will a base model Accent car be sufficient? Aside from the sheer number of options, you have to consider your finances, your lifestyle, and what the future may bring.
For young professionals, a smart-looking sedan might be appealing, while home-makers may prefer something a bit more practical like a crossover. Meanwhile, those with a need to do some heavy work will gravitate towards the many capable pickup trucks on the market in the USA. This is not counting the minivans, wagons, and hatchbacks that pop up every now and then.
Even if you do have an idea of what you’re after, perhaps you should consider the multiple configurations that each model offers. These include gas-fed or hybrid powertrains, two- or four-wheel drivetrains, and more advanced trim levels that upgrade the comfort, safety, and infotainment features.
Different strokes for different folks
Everybody style has its own set of advantages, but they are weak in certain areas, too. If you’re still on the fence about where to start, here is a quick breakdown of what each has to offer.
- Sedan – These are what we all draw when we play Pictionary – a three-box, four-door vehicle. They are generally the cheapest options, but they still look smart and professional. Thanks to their small size, they are often light and deliver great fuel economy. However, they lack the spaciousness of larger styles.
- Coupe – A spinoff of the sedans, these cars only have two doors and the roof generally slopes down at the rear. This gives them a more aggressive appearance. In most cases, these are the sports cars of the world, with high-performance engine options and refined handling. Sadly, their form is even less conducive to a high passenger or cargo capacities. They often sacrifice ride comfort for speed, too.
- SUV/crossover – These high-riders are highly prized for their all-around appeal. Though more expensive to buy and run than a smaller car, they give you a lot of value. This is mostly centered around their practicality, as spacious rear seats and trunks are commonplace. All- or four-wheel-drive is generally offered to help expand their viability as all-terrain vehicles, though not all live up to this expectation.
- Minivan/wagons – These styles make for great family cars, but they are generally considered a bit dull. However, where minivans stick to the essentials and focus on keeping the whole family safe, wagons can be surprisingly fun for the driver. The main drawbacks here are the limited availability and the rather high price tags.
- Pickups – Trucks are the workhorses of the automotive world, but they have managed to muscle their way into our daily lives, too. Highly customizable, they can serve as heavy haulers or family cars, depending on how you spec them. As is to be expected from their weight and high-displacement engines, they offer terrible mileage figures, and they are often quite expensive upfront, too.
Up on the podium
Naturally, each respective category has its pack leaders. Some are high-quality, dependable but affordable models, while others are top-of-the-line luxury and performance models. How much normally determines how much you get, but some of the cheaper cars actually deliver more bang for your buck.
Some of the big names here include the Mercedes-Benz S-class, BMW 8 Series, Genesis G80, Tesla Model S, Kia Stinger, and Hyundai Sonata.
In Performance guise, the Tesla is among the quickest cars currently on the road, while the Merc is the very epitome of sophistication and luxury. The Stinger is a bit on the pricey side in the brand’s range, with the Sonata being the economy buy here. Opting for the Hybrid variant sees much better miles per gallon, as well as an increase in standard features.
The model turning the most heads right now is probably the Genesis G80. Since the automaker is pretty new to the game, it is building many of its vehicles on the framework of cheaper relatives like the Hyundai Accent and Elantra.
Good looks to rival excellent performance is what wins hearts in this segment. Choice names include the Mercedes-AMG CLA, Audi R8, BMW M8, Dodge Challenger, and Honda Civic Si.
Each member of the German trio represents the pinnacle of their brand’s aesthetic ethos, with the BMW and Merc mixing poise and class with aggressive curves and powerful engines. The R8 takes a bolder stance by going for pure sports car vibes. The Dodge Challenger is a classic American muscle car, alongside the similarly affordable and just as powerful Chevy Camaro.
This is the most popular segment Stateside, after pickup trucks. From nimble but spacious subcompacts through to three-row models, the top names include the all-new Kia Seltos and Soul, Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-30, Mercedes GLA, Cadillac Escalade, Kia Telluride, and Audi e-tron.
Around the city, the smaller Seltos and CX-30 are a dream to drive. While not powerful, they have enough kick to get going, and their cavernous cabins easily swallow passengers and their cargo. Meanwhile, the RAV4 offers three variants from gas-fed to plug-in, combining great mpg with even more space.
However, if you want luxury, you’ll need to consider something like the e-Tron or GLA. These German-made SUVs ooze style and have loads of power in comparison to their cheaper competition. However, it is the Escalade that stands head and shoulders above the rest, reclaiming the blue ribbon for the US when it comes to ultra-luxurious SUVs with more tech than a space shuttle.
Nothing says proudly American like a burly truck towing a small mountain. However, with multiple customization options and engine choices, these beasts can double up as family haulers, especially in their top trim levels. This assumes you can afford their astronomical MSRP prices, though.
The Ford F-series easily takes the cake for top sales. Ranged from the F-150 through to the F-450 Super Duty, they are each suited for different levels of work. More specialized nameplates like the Ranger love to venture off-road, alongside competitors such as Jeep Gladiator and Chevy Colorado.
If the Blue Oval isn’t your style, then Ram and Chevrolet each offer their own range of pickups with varying towing/hauling capabilities in the form of the Ram Pickup and Chevrolet Silverado