Our family recently purchased a new (used) car. This was a process we put a lot of thought, research, and of course, prayer, into. Let's be honest, a vehicle is a rather large purchase, and it's something you hope will last you for quite a few years-you don't want to be looking for a new car every year!
Our first step was obviously deciding what type or size of vehicle would work best for our needs. We take quite a few weekend trips as well as a few 2-week trips every year, so we wanted something with third-row seating and a lot of room for luggage. There's usually 4-5 of us on the trips, and being girls, you know we pack more luggage than we actually need! Having something that would be able to pull a small trailer was something we would like, but not necessarily a necessity. From past experience, I knew my top choice would be a Ford Explorer, but we were open to any type of SUV around that size.
The next step was looking for vehicles within a 2-hour radius of us. We live in a pretty small area so there aren't a huge amount of dealers to choose from nearby, which made the internet a big help. One of my favorite websites to use while doing all this was Cars.com. You can search for new or used cars, and also, my favorite part, check out reviews on vehicles. There was one SUV we had been looking at (I don't recall which make/model it was now) that I was very thankful I had checked reviews before we drove to look at it an hour and a half away. It looked/sounded great, was within our price range, and a newer model, but after reading reviews about how it didn't hold up well, we crossed that one off our list. I can not stress enough how important research is - especially reading reviews - when looking to buy a new vehicle!
The last step in our car-purchase experience was having my dad check out the vehicles. He definitely knows more about cars than I do, so it's helpful to have someone with more car-savvy than I possess to look at each vehicle we thought might be an option. He was quick to point out flaws with some, gave a so-so rating on others, and on the one we ended up purchasing, was completely sold on the vehicle's condition, reliability, and overall good fit for us. And wouldn't you know, we even ended up with the exact make and model of vehicle I was hoping for! We've had this vehicle for a little over three months now and have put about 7,000 miles on it in that time. (I said we do a lot of weekend trips!) All our research definitely paid off, as we have not had the slightest bit of trouble with our Explorer.