When the smart little car you fell in love with a few years ago no longer seems to be enough car anymore, it could be time to trade up to a larger vehicle. But before you rush to fill the void with the biggest vehicle you can afford, consider what qualities about being bigger will actually be better.
Americans are falling out of love with powerful vehicles that provide an enjoyable driving experience. Today, drivers are looking for cars with more cargo space, better safety features, and snazzier technology.
According to a recent Boston Globe article, two big trends to watch for in 2016, are cars that are equipped with smaller engines (given concerns about emissions and fuel economy), and the fast-growing popularity of the crossover utility vehicle (CUV)—a design that combines the aspects of a SUV (more space with a higher ride) with those of a passenger car.
If sheer size is exactly what you’re looking for, trading up might be just the thing. But there could be a better way to get what you want from your next vehicle.
Bigger or better?
By now, you have probably pinned down a more specific reason for trading in your current car than a craving for new car smell. But most Americans tend to forget that size is a matter of degree. Just because you need room for one or two more passengers does not mean it’s time to go all in for a three-row behemoth.
Outgrowing the family car. If you have added more members to the family and you are all out of room, it’s definitely time to look for something with more seating space. Before you leap to conclusions about how much bigger you need to go, consider whether you actually need more seats or simply seats that are friendlier to your current mix of passengers, car seats, and boosters.
If you are an indoorsy family, you won’t need the same cargo space as your outdoorsy neighbor who carries camping gear on the weekends and hockey sticks the rest of the week. Consider how long you’d like to keep this next car versus the ages of your brood. Young children don’t need much ancillary space in a car, and teens will be driving on their own soon enough; it’s generally only the middle years when you are likely to want a little more wiggle room.
A new hobby. If you are into camping, four-wheeling, or another outdoorsy activity, bigger is much more likely to be better. Even so, consider what specific aspect of bigger you are looking for. Do you need four-wheel capabilities but still want to remain nimble and get reasonable gas mileage for street driving? Do you need more power to pull an RV? Is cargo space what you are really after?
A road-tripper. You may not actually need to go bigger to handle a lengthy road trip. Adding storage space to the top or back of your car may do the job more efficiently than buying a monster vacation vehicle that only one or two people will ride around in on a regular basis.
A furry friend in the mix. If a new dog or cat is a frequent passenger now, you may be tempted to reconfigure to make traveling more comfortable for both of you. But an SUV with seats you can lay flat isn’t always the safest or most comfortable configuration for your furry friend. Browse at an online pet specialty retailer to see if one of today’s many seat protector and pet passenger systems might work out just right.
The costs of trading up
Once you have identified what’s driving your desire for a bigger car, you may decide adapting or repairing your current car rather than replacing it to be the smarter option. A sidegrade might also be more suitable than a vehicle that’s bigger all the way around—say, a car with a wider back seat to accommodate clashing car seats, or a wagon that lets you fold down the back seats for the occasional pet or large load.
Bigger cars almost certainly mean bigger bills: more gas, bigger insurance bills, and sometimes more expensive repair and maintenance costs as well. Weigh these costs against how long you expect to keep your new car to guide your decision between buying a new car or a used car.
Bigger car, reasonable loan
When you are ready to buy your bigger (or better) car, turn to PenFed for car loans that will not biggie-size your payments out of reach.
PenFed has great rates on auto loans and its Car Buying Service can take the hassle out of car shopping. Additionally, once you have made at least 12 payments, you could qualify to extend your loan and lower your monthly payments
Ready to upsize? Visit PenFed to start your easy online application—you could get an instant decision to make your driving experience both bigger and better.