Okay, so you’ve done your research on the various makes and models you like. You know what’s in your price range, and you’ve got a good idea of what your credit score is. You’ve done all the basic research and you feel ready to take on the actual task of finding a car in your area. That’s when you come across the best friend of every car dealership – the car finder. At AutoFinder.com, just enter the make and model you’re interested in, along with your zip code, and AutoFinder will give you quotes from dealers in the area. If you’re interested in multiple cars, just fill out the form as many times as you need. Once you have all the quotes, do you know what to look for when narrowing down your choices? Ideally, three of the most important things you can look for are: fuel economy, transmission, and drivetrain.
If the first thing that pops into your mind when hearing “fuel economy” is hybrid versus traditional cars, you’re already one step ahead of me! You’re probably wondering, how efficient are hybrid cars, really? Do I want to go all electric? Or is it better for me to stick with the traditional gasoline cars?
Here’s where it’s crucial for you to analyze your driving habits by asking the following questions:
How many miles do I typically drive in a day? In a week?
- Do I typically drive in-city only or do I often find myself on the highway?
- How many passengers am I usually toting around?
- Will this be my primary car, or a secondary car just for running quick errands?
Answering these questions will help you greatly in deciding which kind of fuel-efficient (or not fuel-efficient) car is best for your individual needs.
In considering a hybrid, you’ll also want to consider your budget. Hybrids typically cost more, so if you’re tight on cash it might not be the right car for you at this time. I once rode with a Lyft driver who had to overexert himself driving Lyft all the time just to pay for his new hybrid car, and it was obvious that the stress from all the extra work was taking a toll on his health.
When it comes to transmission, here I’m talking automatic versus manual. Yes, which you prefer is going to be mostly a personal preference, but there’s some fuel economy at play here as well. You may have heard that manuals always get better fuel economy than their automatic counterparts, and while this may have been true in the past, it’s not necessarily fact anymore. Technology with automatics has gotten a lot better, meaning that some automatics may actually be more fuel efficient than manuals. At the end of the day, when you decide which make you want, you’ll need to do your research if you want to know if automatic or manual is more efficient.
When it comes to drivetrain, here we’re talking front-wheel drive (FWD), rear-wheel drive (RWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD). If you have any detailed questions about which drivetrain would be best for you, be sure to ask a trusted mechanic. A lot depends on the climate and state of the roads where you live and drive. To get you started, though, here’s a few basics:
- FWD: These cars are usually lighter, and the drivetrain’s layout means that there’s more space under the car for a manufacturer to give passengers more legroom and trunk space. There’s great traction and breaking. However, the fact that the front wheels are doing all the work means that there can be issues with understeer – when the front wheels lose a bit of their traction while making a turn. This means that the car will tend to drive toward the outside of many turns. Ideal for cities and urban environments, FWD vehicles perform well in light snow or rain. If you’re a new driver, you’ll probably want to start with a FWD vehicle.
- RWD: While this type of drivetrain used to be much more common, it’s seen mostly now in sports and luxury cars. RWD vehicles offer more precise handling, and it’s easier to troubleshoot noises or vibrations since the drivetrain goes front-to-back in a straight line. However, the main drag with RWD vehicles is that they don’t have great traction in slippery road conditions.
- AWD: With increasing popularity due to its functionality, AWD offers perhaps the best traction. AWD is great for driving off-road as well as on rough roads. If you live in an area with a steady amount of snow and/or rain, you’ll also notice that it’ll usually be a lot easier to drive in these conditions. AWD drivetrains will be heavier, however, and their economy isn’t as good as cars with RWD or FWD.