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How Does LendingTree Get Paid?

LendingTree is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (such as the order). LendingTree does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.

What Car Should I Buy?

Updated on:
Content was accurate at the time of publication.

With so many good cars on the market, it can feel impossible to narrow down your choices to the perfect car. We’ll tell you the most important things to consider when buying a car — like size, price and safety — and highlight the best cars to buy in each category.

You may already have a type of car in mind, but if you don’t, car size and style are two of the most important considerations. Here are some of the most popular car types and the most sought-after models in each category.


SUVs are popular among consumers with large families who need extra cargo space or additional seats. While you’ll get better fuel economy with a smaller car like a sedan or crossover, many SUVs come with all-wheel drive (AWD) and are easier to drive off-road or in icy, wet conditions.

Looking for the best SUVs? Check out the Honda CR-V for a popular compact SUV, and the Kia Telluride for the top-rated midsize SUV.

Sources: Car and Driver, Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book


Minivans are another great option for families who need additional space and seating. They often cost less than SUVs of comparable size, and they’re lower to the ground, making it easier for young children to climb in (but harder to navigate off-road or in icy weather).

Looking for the best minivans? Car experts list Honda Odyssey and Chrysler Pacifica as two of the top minivans in 2024.

Sources: Car and Driver and Edmunds


If you’re regularly towing your RV or boat, or if you often carry heavy (or large) cargo, consider buying a pickup truck. An SUV or a large crossover is a better choice if you want good fuel economy and don’t need to tow an oversized trailer.

Looking for the best trucks? Car experts give high marks to the compact Ford Maverick, midsize Toyota Tacoma and full-size Ram 1500.

Sources: Car and Driver and Consumer Reports


When you think of cars, you’re probably picturing sedans — cars with separate compartments for the engine, the passengers and the trunk. Sedans typically have better fuel economy than larger cars like SUVs and crossovers, and they tend to be cheaper and easier to drive.

Looking for the best sedans? The Honda Civic tops expert lists of the best compact sedans, and three top-performing midsize sedans are the Honda Accord, Kia K5 and Toyota Camry.

Sources: Car and Driver and Edmunds


A crossover is a cross between an SUV and a traditional car. Crossovers are larger and higher off the ground than traditional cars, but they’re smaller than SUVs and they typically come with better fuel economy.

Looking for the best crossovers? Experts recommend the Honda CR-V as the top crossover in 2024.

Source: Kelley Blue Book

As of January 2024, the average price tag of electric vehicles (EVs) costs more than the average new car by almost $8,000, according to Kelley Blue Book. But fueling and maintaining your hybrid or electric vehicle will likely cost less in the long run, saving you more money the longer you own your car.

Plus, government incentives decrease the sticker price of an EV, and steadily expanding EV infrastructure makes it easier and more practical to fuel up.

Looking for the best hybrid and electric cars? Car and Driver maintains a list of the best hybrid vehicles by size, and Consumer Reports lists the best hybrid and electric cars by price.

Fuel efficiency is a crucial consideration for commuters and those who are always on the road. If you’re looking for a hybrid or gas-powered car, choosing one with excellent fuel economy will help keep money in your wallet.

Looking for the most fuel-efficient cars? The U.S. Department of Energy maintains a list of the cars with the best fuel economy.

Affordability is a major factor for most car buyers, and fortunately, there are several ways to save on the cost of a car. Buying a used or certified pre-owned car will reduce the purchase price, and shopping around for a car loan with low rates can help you save an average of $5,198.

Looking for the best affordable cars? The 2024 Nissan Versa has a starting MSRP of $16,680. Experts at Car and Driver maintain a list of the cheapest cars, but make sure to check the ratings and reviews on each car, since the sole ranking criteria is the car’s starting price.

Safety-conscious consumers can review the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s vehicle safety ratings for cars they’re interested in. If you’re concerned about buying a lemon, you should perform a VIN check on any used car and have the car thoroughly inspected before you buy it.

Looking for the most reliable cars? Lexus leads the Consumer Reports rankings of most reliable car brands.

The type of car you need depends on where you live and how you plan to use it. Consumers who live in a location with weather extremes — including ice and snow — should consider getting a car with all-wheel drive and safety features like adaptive headlights and good ground clearance.

Your lifestyle will also play a big role in determining the kind of car you should buy. City commuters can save by buying an EV or a car with good fuel economy, while frequent campers and RV owners often trade good fuel efficiency for the towing abilities of a truck or SUV.

Looking for the best cars for winter driving? Kelley Blue Book experts recommend the Subaru Outback and outline the best car safety features for driving in the snow.

Many lenders require credit scores above 660 to approve an auto loan. That said, car loans for bad credit exist. They usually come with higher rates, making them more expensive than typical car loans.

Leasing a car — essentially renting the car by making monthly payments for a specified period of time — makes sense for consumers who don’t plan to keep a car for many years and who don’t rack up miles, since many leases come with mileage restrictions.
But if you plan to keep your car for a number of years and want to build equity (ownership) in your car, buying a car makes sense.

Choosing between buying a new or used car comes down to how much you can afford up front and how comfortable you are with increased maintenance costs.
Used cars are cheaper, and you won’t have to worry as much about depreciation, since cars depreciate most in the first five years. But they typically don’t come with a manufacturer warranty, and it can be hard to determine how well they’ve been maintained. Older cars typically need more maintenance, so you’ll need to shell out for repairs sooner than you would with a new vehicle.