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Choosing a New Car

Community  /   /  By Chester Allen

My wife is on a hunt for a new car, and she’s not listening to my suggestions at all.

We agree that we’ve got a budget of about $40,000 or so, but we don’t agree on much else.

I’m corroded with lust for a fire-breathing 2013 Dodge Challenger SRT8, one of the hottest modern muscle cars, with a 6.4-liter HEMI V8 engine with a 6-speed Tremec manual transmission. This car is a thunder wagon that is tailor made for midnight runs on Interstate 84 through Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge.

OK, the mileage is 23 miles per gallon on the highway, so this car is more for fun than practical commuting.

My wife, who loves refined European cars, is mooning over the 2013 Audi A3, which is a spiffy, small station wagon with Quattro all-wheel drive and a turbocharged diesel engine. This car isn’t a thunder wagon, but it does get 42 mpg on the highway and will march through Oregon’s rain, mud, snow and ice.

I suspect we’re getting the Audi — mostly because it’s a car that fits our needs and budget.

Choosing a new car often means you have to compromise between what you really want and what you really need and can afford. So, the first step on your new car journey is to make a list of what you want the car to do.

Next, figure out how much you can reasonably afford. It makes no sense to buy a car you can’t afford, as that monthly payment will feel like slavery after the new-car glow fades in your mind.
Truth be told, the Audi fits our lives better than the Dodge Challenger. We spend a lot of time outdoors — fishing, surfing, camping and traveling — and having all-wheel drive is a must in the Pacific Northwest. It doesn’t make sense to buy a car that can’t haul our gear or can’t handle a snowy road.

Both of us prefer station wagons over sedans, as we can haul more stuff. Heather, my wife, likes a little refinement in a car, and the Audi’s plush interior makes her happy.

So, once you had a list of what you want the car to do — and a budget — it’s time to go looking — not shopping. We’re going to look hard at Audi A3, but we’re also going to check out Volvo and Subaru wagons.

Find several cars that meet your needs and budget — and then go online and research the car’s ratings for safety, reliability and performance and operating costs. It’s a good idea to and check the U.S. Government’s safety ratings on your possible choices.

It also pays to check Consumer Reports or some other car-rating publication for reviews of the car.
Then it’s time to get out there and play hardball with a dealer. Don’t forget to search on eBay for your car. Good luck!

Do you have a new car story or tips? Feel free to share in the comment section.

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