Best Buy Ford Road
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Selection takes some thought. A small sports car might work for a single person or couple, but not if they're planning on starting a family. A large SUV might be great for camping and road-tripping with friends, but isn't likely to be much fun when it comes time to fuel up, pay for insurance, or find street parking.
With prices so high, shoppers also need to keep a close eye on their budget. "There is no point in test driving a car if it turns out you can't afford it," said Tom McParland, who runs the vehicle-buying service Automatch Consulting and writes about consumer issues and the automotive industry for Jalopnik.
Most experts advise spending no more than 20% of take-home pay on a vehicle, including payments, insurance and fuel or electricity. There are many online calculators to help consumers determine how much a car buyer can afford.
Conversely, someone who regularly tows or travels on poorly-kept dirt roads might lean towards a traditional SUV or pickup, which are generally built on heavy-duty truck frames to take such abuse. Though most SUVs and pickups are gas hogs, there are a handful of efficient options, such as the hybrid version of the new Ford Maverick and diesel versions of the Ram 1500 and Chevrolet Tahoe. On top of this, a range of electric options including the Ford F-150 Lightning pickup are entering the market over the next year.
Anyone who doesn't go off-road or tow much but does carry a lot or people or stuff should remember that minivans still exist. This oft-overlooked segment of the market is ideal for larger families and there's a range of front- and all-wheel-drive minivan options that can seat up to eight people in car-like comfort.
"Paying cash is usually your best option because it limits how much you have to pour into a depreciating asset," said Greg McBride, the chief financial analyst at consumer finance site Bankrate.com. "But don't deplete your emergency fund just to buy the car."
Prices are at all-time highs and aren't expected to drop until 2023 at the earliest. If you already have a reliable vehicle, or live in an area with decent public transportation, the best decision might be to hold off on a vehicle purchase.
The Ford F-150 isn't just the bestselling truck in the country; it's the bestselling vehicle, period. It maintains this position by offering the configurations and features that truck buyers demand. It has high towing and payload ratings in trims that run from basic to luxury. Engine options include an efficient hybrid and the new electric F-150 Lightning (reviewed separately). Choose from rear-wheel or four-wheel drive, three beds, and three cabs to further customize the F-150.
The larger, retro-designed Ford Bronco may look tough and tug on the heartstrings of drivers who remember the original. But for many buyers, the Bronco drives too much like a truck. Buyers looking for a comfortable family crossover are likely better served by a less expensive alternative with better road manners. Ford's smaller, lower-priced, five-passenger Bronco Sport hits those notes perfectly. It offers hints of the big Bronco's styling but has none of the on-road drawbacks. Still, each Bronco Sport model has all-wheel drive and can be optioned for additional off-road capability.
Drivers looking for serious capability will want the Badlands model. Not only does it come with the larger engine, but it also has plenty of mechanical goodies and electronic drive modes that increase its off-road handling. It comes with a slightly stiffer ride, but that's not enough to deter us from recommending the package.
In all, the Bronco Sport offers hunky good looks, a legendary nameplate, and real off-road capabilities in a package that's a pleasure to drive every day. Mix that with Ford's excellent onbo