Most of us might be impulsive shoppers, but even the most impulsive shopper takes careful decisions when making a big purchase. Most people give a great deal of thought before buying a car. There are many practicalities to be considered while buying a car.

Most families with an average income consider many things before making the final decision. A car’s design, interior space, fuel efficiency, ride, handling, reliability, comfort, safety, build, refinement and even its probable resale value can influence prospective buyers. The car’s warranty period and the after sales service also go a long way in persuading a buyer to pick a particular vehicle. Some vehicles carry a “gas guzzler tax” since they consume a lot more fuel than smaller cars. Cash rebates and finance plans are also important as they determine the immediate and total cost of ownership. The cost of maintenance of a vehicle is also an important factor. The cost of spare parts and all operating costs should all be factors that make an impact on your decision. Purchasing is not the only option, and some people decide to lease a car to take advantage of tax breaks. This leaves them free from maintenance hassles, while at the same time giving them the freedom to buy or lease a new automobile as soon as the lease period runs out. Leases also don’t require a down payment and this helps further.

Let us compare a couple of new entry-level models from two big manufacturers: The Honda Civic LX sedan and the Ford Focus zx4SES.

The Civic offers marginally more horsepower: 140 bhp to the Ford’s 136, and is miles ahead in terms of fuel efficiency with figures of 30 and 38 miles per gallon in the city and highway respectively as opposed to a more modest 26 and 30 for the Focus. The Civic also offers an electro chromic mirror and more on the safety front, with front side and side head curtain airbags. Antilock Brake System is also offered as a standard feature on the Civic while the Focus does not have these features.

However, each vehicle offers something the other doesn’t. The Focus has a few goodies that the Honda does not possess, e.g. a leather wrapped steering wheel. And while a rear spoiler, alloy wheels and fog lamps are optional on the Civic, they are standard features on the Focus.

The Focus does have the advantage of offering more optional features. The list includes leather seats, traction control, heated exterior mirror, subwoofer and a powered sunroof.

The warranty is another factor that people tend to look at, and both automobiles have warranties of 36000 miles and 36 months. It must be mentioned that Ford does offer a 100,000 mile warranty on its powertrain while Honda’s warranty on its powertrain extends to only 60000 miles.

In the end, it really comes down to what sort of a car one wants to get. The Honda is more refined, thriftier on fuel and is unconventional looking. The Ford, on the other hand, is an all-rounder, which offers good value for money, decent ride, and handling with good seat support and a better interior compared to the previous model of the Focus. It is a more conventional looking car with traditional interiors.

A buyer spending about $20,000 for a car might be more interested in fuel efficiency and standard

equipment at a competitive price. On the other hand, someone looking to spend around $70,000 or more will be more interested in the car’s performance, styling, and the pedigree. The fuel efficiency and the equipment levels of the car might not rate very highly from most buyers’ perspectives, but they will definitely want a well-designed, refined car with a good engine.

First time car buyers might put a great deal of thought before they make a decision on which car to buy, but car owners normally tend to have a biased view. They show a preference for something that is tried and trusted.

New Companies offer better deals

Normally new companies have to offer a better deal to attract customers. Hyundai was one of the few companies offering a warranty of up to 10 years in the United States a few years ago and was consistently ranked amongst the top automakers in terms of quality by the J.D. Power and Associates survey. This is in sharp contrast to Hyundai’s earlier reputation as a low quality carmaker when it started production nearly two decades ago. Kia Motors which is another Korean upstart has followed a similar pattern.

Entry level midsized sedans

Let us compare two entry level midsize sedans from two of Japan’s most renowned carmakers: Honda’s Accord LX SE sedan and the Toyota Camry. The Camry offers more bang for your buck with sunroof, power seats, fog lights, tire inflation/pressure monitor and power sunroof as standard features whereas these are all optional or not available on the Accord. However, the Accord scores on the safety front with front side and side head curtain airbags offered as standard equipment. These are only optional accessories on the Camry. There is also a distinct difference between the two cars in handling and ride quality. The Camry has the larger space overall and offers a more sedate ride but it’s the sportier- looking Accord that handles better and is a more involving driver’s car.

Luxury automobiles too vary greatly depending on what one is looking for. The Mercedes-Benz E-Class and the BMW 7 Series are competing luxury sedans. While the E-Class ranges from approximately $50,000-82000 in the United States, the 7 Series ranges from $42000-58000. The BMW scores higher its rival in terms of handling and a high tech steering but the Mercedes has the better ride. Interiors are a matter of opinion, with both models offering well-built classy cabins but completely different in appearance. The E-Class uses wood trim and feels plush and refined in light colors, whereas the 7 Series is all black with a more modern feel.

Thus, there are many factors to consider when one wants to buy a car and it is a matter of one’s priorities.