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Why we buy the cars we do

So why do we drive the cars we drive?  There’s always a reason behind our purchase.  Even an impulse buy evolves from some previous conception in our mind as to why we should buy it.  Maybe the car just looks incredible or maybe the sale price is just too good to miss.  Perhaps we have a budget or our old car just “gave up the ghost”.  There are so many wonderful cars on the market to choose from, so what is the reason we own the car we do?

According to a J.D Power survey taken last year, the top reason for owning a particular car was the car’s reliability record.  Given that vehicle reliability is cited by half of all new car buyers as one of the most important reasons, perhaps this is why we tend to see more Toyota, Honda and Mazda cars driven on our roads than, perhaps, Fiat, Volkswagen and Peugeot.  I’m really only taking a stab in the dark for the last three models mentioned (I’ve seen plenty of good ones on the roads out there); however, I do know that the Japanese cars mentioned here are usually more reliable.  When you read some of the reliability ratings for new cars, remember that in the last five to ten years, the level of new electronics on-board a new car has increased dramatically.  A malfunctioning touch screen or voice control unit, though frustrating, is less critical than a malfunctioning mechanical component or engine failure!  The tendency for reliability ratings to draw more commonly on fiddly interior-related electronic failures can give a clouded view of a how reliable a car might actually be for getting you from A to B.

New car reliability is still number one factor for driving the cars we do.

How a car looks parked up the drive does hold great value in the minds of current new car buyers.  More and more, the exterior design needs to look striking in the eyes of the purchaser before the cash is handed over.  I wonder if this is the reason why Hyundai and Volvo sales are up?

Number 2: How it looks.

There are those who just love to buy the next new model in the range of car that they’ve been driving for the past 25 years.  If you’ve had a happy experience with your old car, the chances are high that you’ll want to buy into the brand again via the newer model on offer.  This is a common reason for owners to buy and drive the car they do.

I’ve owned one for the past 25 years!

Next common reason is how the car drives.  How the car steers, corners, accelerates and rides does have a strong influence on the purchase.  You need to be happy with your car in this respect, as, more often than not, you’ll be driving it for another few years yet.

How it drives.

People have a budget, and it’s only sensible to buy within your means.  A vehicle’s price or the monthly payment is one of the main reasons that buyers will end up choosing a specific make and model of vehicle.


It was interesting to note that safety and fuel economy were both next on the list of reasons (and lower down) of why  people buy the car they do.  With all the new safety features that new cars place in their models to keep up with stringent crash testing, maybe new car buyers are starting to expect their latest buy to be safe anyway.  Do keep in mind, however, that the laws of physics still exist and a smaller, lighter car will come off second best in a crash with a larger, heavier vehicle of a similar safety rating of, say, 5 stars.


Also, it’s really important to mention that collision avoidance systems are amazingly effective, so make sure that the new car you buy has these features as standard.  Sadly, the number of distracted drivers on our roads has been on the increase.

As far as economy goes, hybrids seem to be the way to go to get the best low running costs over time.  The purchase price for a hybrid still demands a higher price tag than more conventional models, so I guess if you’re going to hold onto the car for over five years, the maths starts to look better and better with buying a new hybrid.  That said, aerodynamic design, new fuel-saving technologies such as automatic engine stop/start and cylinder deactivation, transmissions with up to 8 or 9 gears, and lighter vehicle structures made out of high-strength steel have all contributed to much better fuel efficiency for any type of car – hybrid or not.

Running costs.

The last two popular reasons people are driving the cars they do are less popular than the reasons mentioned above but still are worth noting.  Firstly, a car’s workmanship or perceived build quality does still factor into the purchasing decision-making process for a new car buyer.  It’s great to be able to note here that most new cars are bolted together pretty well, and so it’s less likely to see things disintegrating or falling off a brand new car – regardless of who made it.

Build quality or workmanship.

Secondly, people want to buy a new car with AWD or an SUV shape more commonly now than they used to.  This has been an increasingly evident phenomenon on our roads, and the likelihood of seeing more SUVs and AWD vehicles on our roads continues to grow.


I’d love you to comment on anything I might have missed here.  Maybe you see things differently?