This should be the easy part, certainly the most fun. Yet many buyers feel insecure right up to the moment they enter a showroom. Who can blame them? With so many models available and new ones arriving all the time it's difficult keeping up with the changes, let alone making a decision.
It all comes down to research, which is something you can do on your own, thanks to the power of the Internet. The amount of information available is staggering, provided you know where to look. Naturally, we suggest About Cars as a good starting place if you prefer a site that's personal and easy to navigate, but we're the first to admit a number of alternatives exist. One of our favorite car buying sites is Edmunds.com, while Cars.com is another proven source of useful material.
Don't hesitate to seek advice from friends and relatives if they've had experience with a vehicle that's on your list of prospects, but do remember that those folk are not experts and are often biased towards their own tastes. You might also try the periodicals section of your local library; a good place to browse car magazines in search of test drives and helpful commentary.
If you can sort through the hype without being unduly influenced, we have no hesitation in recommending the manufacturer's own sites. They contain absolutely everything you need to know, from specifications, to option packages, to colours. Most allow you to "build" your own car, adding features and options along the way, so that you can accurately price a new vehicle exactly as you want it. The building tools alter the price tag as you add each item, making it easy to adjust your choices if the total gets too high. Armed with this information, you're ready to go shopping.
You can also arrange to have a catalog sent from the manufacturer sites but a word of caution: once a name and address is submitted you may end up on a dealer's mailing list and be subject to unsolicited calls.
If you're not sure just which car is right for you, we recommend our Car Buyer's Test, a simple little document that invites you to answer some questions regarding lifestyle, driving habits, everyday needs, and personal tastes. It's not a multiple choice test or quiz, no numbers or letters to confuse... just make some notes as you go. A few minutes spent could find you well on the way to a final decision regarding "which car."