Advice about cars: drive what you like. As an older guy I'm in the minority driving a smaller car, though Civics seem as roomy as Accords. I love smaller cars. Fun to drive, and I like them in traffic better. I really like the look of the current Civic (above). Civics seem it sit higher than Accords and Camrys, but they seem to be more recommended (along with the comparable Acura, Audi, and Lexus models).
Mechanics and my car expert friends recommend these foreign brands over the domestics, but again get what you like. Toyota and Honda and their offshoots like Acura, but also Kia and Hyundai as well. People who've driven Porshe and Mercedes say they're in the shop more than other brands (but they sure do look good). Not sure if you care how your car fits in at the company lot, or if you care.
Several alpha males drive huge domestic pickups: Ford F-150s and Dodge more so than Chevys or GMCs, for some reason. To me they're too hard to park and get terrible gas mileage. Toyota and Nissan pickups seem less cool. Same with Chevy Tahoes and Suburbans. For a while the Prius was getting better looking, but I don't like the latest model. The new Kia hybrid looks good.
SUVs seem to be holding their popularity. Both Ceil and I think our 2011 Honda CRV is hard to see out of. Not sure about the current model. The Toyota Highlander is my favorite, followed by the Acura MDX and RDX. The Audi, Lexus, and VW SUVs all look good. The smaller SUVs seem more popular, and probably get better mileage and are easier to park. Not sure if they'd have enough room for trips to Destin or Atlanta, but close. Hauling Christmas presents and luggage can be a hassle.
My buddy who loves cars has bought several at CarMax. Cars there are low mileage, and you probably get a better deal than at a dealership. A coworker just bought a car on line, which could be ok as well.
I don't do everything Clark Howard says, but he says it's better to buy than lease. Leasing would be terrible for me and Ceil because we put so many miles on our cars. Do most leases only allow one thousand miles a month? As a child gets older and into more activities, there may be more driving to do. If the kid can buckle his own car seat then you could get a 2-door car if you wanted. Having to buckle him (or a baby) in the back seat of a 2-door is a huge hassle.
I've had State Farm insurance forever, but I really need to switch to an independent agent, who can shop smaller insurance companies who are just as good, but are cheaper because they don't advertise (or bankroll bowl games). Another tip: switch insurance companies from time to time. When you stick to the same company, they consider you stuck there, and charge you higher rates than customers who shop around.
Car buying can be a hassle, a time consuming and unpleasant experiences, especially when you have to deal with salespeople at dealerships. Craig's List is cheaper, but there's few low mileage cars, and you never know when you'll run into a murderer. CarMax or on line might be the way to go.
Clark Howard says to never buy new because a car depreciates as soon as you drive it off the lot. But to me the prices of a car with 15000 miles on it don't seem too much different than a new car. That's why I bought my Civic new. Also found Ceil's used CRV at a dealership. They had reduced the price on it because it had been on the lot too long (that's what they said, anyway). Dealers add all kinds of fees – they're all negotiable if you're good at playing hardball.
Your chances of finding a good car at a good price are better if you don't have just one exact car in mind. The wider the selection, the better the chance you'll get a good deal.
Years ago a friend went to the VW dealer and didn't negotiate. He told the salesman he knew they had to make a little profit. I'm sure he wound up paying a super high price.
I still love driving my 2005 Civic. It still rides great and gets just about as much MPG as when I bought it. 270,000 miles. A small dent in the fender from backing into Will's Jeep. Missing the decorative plate between the front and back side windows. Thought giving the Civic to M and buying a used Honda CR-Z hybrid with less than 100,000 miles (below). The only thing I don't like (besides just 2 seats) is that they really sit super low to the ground.
Get what you want. Nothing worse than being stuck in a cart you don't like. I wouldn't want a car that's really super popular, like the Nissan don't seems like
How is all that? I can get more specific if you'd like. Any questions?