I have been asked this same question hundreds of times, and it took me writing a 75 page book cover everything you need to know.
This is not a one-size-fits-all answer.
You need to ask yourself some questions, do your homework and then each vehicle you are thinking of buying needs to be inspected.
Here are the basic questions you need to ask yourself to get you started:
1. What is your budget? Do you need a 4-wheel drive or do you just want one?
2. What kind of driving will you be doing? How long do you plan on keeping this vehicle?
3. What is your space consideration? How many people or what type of cargo do you need to transport on a regular basis?
4. What type of regular driving will you be doing? (highway, city stop & go, paved roads, dirt roads)
5. What type of transmission do you want? (automatic or 5 speed)
6. Do you want 2 wheel drive or 4 wheel drive? (as soon as you put 4-wheel drive into the equation you have added a couple thousand dollars to your budget and extra maintenance costs.)
7. What are your main concerns? (safety, reliability, price or 4-wheel drive)
8. What options do you want? (air conditioning, sunroof, cruise control, side air bags, ABS brakes, power lock & windows)
9. Do you want a specific make & model?
If you want specific information about various vehicles, you can go online to:
www.jdpower.com compares up to four vehicles at once.
www.iihs.org gives information on how the vehicle did on a Crash Test.
If fuel economy is at the top of your list, you can go to www.fueleconomy.gov
to find out the city and highway average miles of any vehicle.
One of my favorite sights is www.epinions.com
It lists various vehicle owners
〉 Answered on Sep 9th, 2007 by Amy Mattinat, Owner and Author at Auto Craftsmen Ltd