Before you buy a vehicle, it’s a good idea to do some research.
Make a list of your needs. Make a separate list of your wants. Factor in things like location and commute. Then after you’ve done all this, set a budget. That way, you have a better idea of what you can afford.
When setting a budget, make sure you realistically factor in all the costs that come with buying a new car, not just the initial selling price. (If you want some advice on how to budget properly, read more here.)
The next step is choosing a segment that fits your list of needs, hopefully most of your wants and matches the budget you set. The only thing is… This might not be as easy as it sounds.
Things aren’t as clear-cut as they use to be. SUV’s can tow, sedans have more space and trucks aren’t just workhorses anymore. So how do you know which segment is right for you?
Everything You Need to Know is Right Here.
We’ve broken down vehicles into three basic segments: Truck, SUV, and Car. Then in each of these segments, we’ve broken them down into categories: Space, Fuel Economy, Price, Towing, and Climate. Finally, we’ve made recommendations for what segment works best with what lifestyle. After reading this you’ll know what kind of vehicle you’re in the market for. And if you’re still unsure….
Automakers understand that even though trucks are typically used for work, they also transport families around too. That’s why there are an endless variety of configurations; full-sized or compact, regular, extended or crew cab, two doors or four, etc. You can also choose the size of the bed you want in the back. This way you can blend all the facets of your life – work and family – into one, reliable ride.
Keep in mind, because there is such a wide range of options, trucks can differ greatly in price, comfort, performance, technology and towing capacity.
Related: The 5 Best Trucks For Towing
If you transport equipment for work or need extra space for gear and supplies, a truck is a sensible option. Truck beds offer more space and cargo capacity than your average trunk and are especially useful when you’re hauling around larger items. Trucks are also great for transporting furniture, helping a friend move and storing camping gear and fuel tanks.
In comparison to cars and SUVs, trucks cost more at the pumps because they have bigger engines. As well, trucks are heavier than other vehicles, and that increase in weight means a lessened fuel economy and an increase in the money you’ll have to spend on gas.
As is the case with all segments, prices can vary by a lot, depending on what you’re looking for. For example, the 2016 Ford F-150 starts at around $26,000, however, some trucks at their highest trim level can cost anywhere from $80,000 to $100,000.
A Typical Budget: $30,000 – $75,000.
Trucks are great for towing. Here’s why.
- They tend to have bigger, more powerful engines than cars or SUVs, meaning they have the strength needed for towing. Plus, their engines come equipped with bigger cooling systems, specifically designed to keep the engine at a proper temperature when towing for a long period of time.
- Their frames are designed to carry extra weight.
- Their transmissions and drivetrains are designed for extra weight and stress.
- They have larger brakes than other vehicles, which means their strong enough to stop a large amount of weight.
Trucks were built for the Canadian climate. With bigger tires and increased tread, trucks are able to maneuver their way through the snow with greater ease than smaller vehicles. Plus, because trucks sit higher, your chances of getting stuck are way less. When you combine the strength of a truck with a 4X4, driving in the snow becomes a 100% less stressful.
Trucks were built to do work. They have bigger engines and stronger bodies specifically designed to haul large loads. Trucks have ample amounts of space for gear of all sizes. They tend to cost more to fill, on average, than SUVs or cars and are typically priced higher than their smaller counterparts. However, with an endless array of configurations, you can find a truck that meets whatever needs you have, at an affordable price.
SUVs and crossovers are a big hit among Canadian families for a ton of reasons.
- They have more cargo capacity than your average car and additional seating for multiple passengers. Parents with car seats, diaper bags, hockey bags and school equipment appreciate the ability to pack it all in, in one trip.
- SUVs sit higher than cars, meaning drivers enjoy improved visibility.
- SUVs are also more adept at towing, and in some cases, their ability to navigate off-road conditions rivals that of a truck.
In terms of passenger space, you’ll need to decide if you want two rows of seating or three. Most compact crossovers and SUVs offer two, while midsized models have three. It depends on how big your family is and how often you think you’ll need room for five or more passengers.
Typically, crossovers are smaller and have less space than mid-sized SUVs. However, crossovers still have more space than most compact cars. We recommend looking at a medium-sized SUV if space is a priority for you. Especially if you have young kids and all the gear that comes with them.
If you want an SUV, but prioritize fuel efficiency, then a crossover might just be the perfect fit. They usually cost less to fill than a mid-sized SUV; some brands have their crossovers’ fuel economies pushing 15 to 25 percent higher than their bigger, older brothers.
Smaller crossovers usually cost a few thousand dollars less than midsized SUVs, however, both tend to be cheaper than trucks. In general, you’ll pay more for this segment than you would for a car and depending on your driving record, insurance will be more too. But if you’ve got a family and you need the space, it’s a no-brainer.
A Typical Budget: $25,000 – $45,000
The bigger, more powerful the engine, the better the vehicle will tow. That’s why mid-sized SUVs are better towers than crossovers and other smaller, compact SUVs. For instance, the Ford Expedition, Toyota Sequoia and Jeep Grand Cherokee have impressive towing capacities because of their bigger engines.
Crossovers and SUVs are great vehicles for winter. Because they have raised ground clearance, owners enjoy increased visibility and are able to plow through snow much easier than vehicles that are lower to the ground. If you live on a street that doesn’t get cleaned a lot in the winter, it’s nice to know you drive a vehicle that can haul its way out if needed.
Mid-sized SUVs are perfect for families not ready – or willing – to buy a minivan. They offer tons of space and in some cases, sit seven comfortably. However, they’re more expensive than a car. As well, because SUVs are higher off the ground they weigh more, which means you’ll feel the effects of that extra weight at the pumps.
The most popular types of cars are coupes, convertibles, sedans, hatchbacks and station wagons. Coupes have two doors and don’t have a ton of extra cargo space.
Sedans, on the other hand, have four doors and are a better fit for families. Then you’ve got hatchbacks and station wagons which add another door and usually have more space. Hatchbacks also keep things relatively affordable at the pumps, because although they have comparable space with an SUV, they’re around the same height as a car meaning they weigh less than an SUV.
Although hatchbacks and station wagons have been an unpopular choice in the past, their slowly finding new popularity thanks to some innovative new designs, including the Kia Soul and Volkswagen Golf.
In terms of space, coupes have obvious limitations. Although they sit four, the front seats need to be moved forward if someone wants to get in the back seat. It’s a step that would get annoying for owners who consistently had more than two passengers.
Sedans, on the other hand, offer more leg room and easier access to the back. These days, there are some bigger sized sedans that offer above average trunk space too, including the Toyota Avalon, Hyundai Genesis, and the Ford Taurus.
Hatchbacks and station wagons offer the most in terms of space. Their elongated back bodies and slim configurations make room for cargo that most sedans and coupes can’t.
Coupes and Sedans are better than both SUVs and trucks in terms of fuel economy. Depending on gas prices, some coupes can be filled for less than $40. Sedans cost more the bigger they get, but overall, if you prioritize low fuel bills, you’re going to want to opt for a car. Even hatchbacks and station wagons usually cost less than an SUV.
Prices vary, depending on the car. The Nissan Micra is considered the most affordable car in Canada, starting at $10,988. The Chevrolet Spark, Mitsubishi Mirage and Kia Rio are three other affordable options, all offering base prices lower than $15,000. Obviously, though, the higher the trim, the higher the cost. Luxury cars can cost anywhere from $30,000 to $100,000.
A Typical Budget: $15,000 – $25,000
As is the case with any vehicle — The bigger and stronger it is, the better it is at towing. Coupes are too small and compact for towing, as are most small sedans. However, depending on the load, larger sedans can get the job done. Take for instance the Ford Fusion 2.0 EcoBoost. With a four-cylinder engine, the Fusion offers almost 2,000 lbs of towing, regardless of the drive system.
Coupes and sedans don’t sit very high off the ground, but that doesn’t mean they can’t handle the winter. With a good set of winter tires and proper maneuvering, even small cars can tackle the occasional snow drift.
Cars is the least expensive segment of the three, depending on what you’re looking for. They’re also cheaper at the pumps and when they come with a set of winter tires, most can tackle a heavy snowfall just fine. Depending on what type of car you choose, though, space can be limited.
There are exceptions to every rule and what works best for one person, doesn’t work well for another. Do your research, browse online and find out what your deal breakers are.