Even if you aren’t a Formula One racer, you probably spend a lot of time in your car. Most of us have daily commutes that are less exciting than a racetrack, but choosing a car that is fun to drive will make your commute a lot nicer. Most of us can’t afford to commute in a Lamborghini, so here are five tips for choosing anaffordable car that is fun to drive.
Decide What You think is Fun
Everyone has a different idea of what is fun.Maybe what makes driving fun for you is the sense of control; in that case, look for a manual transmission. If you like to relax and take in the scenery while driving, consider an automatic. For most people, whether or not a car is fun to drive comes down to either balance and handling or power and speed. It is possible to have it all, but when you are on a budget, it is smart to decide what you care about most. If you spend most of your time driving on the freeway at high speeds in a straight line, you may care more about power and speed. If you spend your weekends driving through scenic winding canyons, handling is probably more important.
Don’t Get Preoccupied with Horsepower
The current Chevrolet Corvette impresses with approximately 455 horsepower, while the unassuming Honda Fit comes in with about 130 horsepower. Why is it, then, that the Honda Fit continuously tops lists of cars that are fun to drive? It is because horsepower isn’t always the most important factor when it comes to fun. The Honda Fit is inexpensive and has good gas mileage, but its small size and tight handling allows you to take have a little fun taking corners quickly, and it accelerates surprisingly well for a car with a 1.5 liter engine. Don’t let the numbers dominate your decisions. A well-built car with less horsepower still has the potential to be fun to drive; you might just have to take it out for a spin and see how it feels on the road.
Look for a Car with a Short First Gear
Correct gearing makes a huge difference in a vehicle’s torque, which in turn effects your horsepower. Buying a car with a short first gear is great for those who want quick acceleration in low speed city driving. If you don’t know a lot about gear ratios or just don’t want to look them up, simply take the car out for a test drive and pay attention when you speed-up. A car with a short first gear will likely need to shift around 30mph, and you will feel the harder acceleration when you are pulling away from a stop.If you are looking at a more powerful car like a Mustang or Camaro, a short first gear isn’t as necessary, but if you are on a limited budget and you are looking at cars with less power, gearing makes an especially big difference.
Pay Attention to Details
Little details might not seem like they make a big difference in how fun a car is to drive, but they definitely matter. On the interior, make sure the steering wheel is at a comfortable distance and that the pillars don’t block your visibility. If you are looking for a car to drive through winding canyons, make sure the seats have good side support so they hold you into place while you whip around corners. When it comes to the exterior, pay attention to the shape. Cars that are wider and lower to the ground usually handle better. Avoid buying a car with after-market wheels, especially if you are getting it used. While many owners put after-market wheels on their cars for show or because they think it will be fun, they are actually messing up their handling and damaging their suspension. After-market wheels will also come back to bite you in the wallet because low profile tires are quite expensive. Pay attention to details inside and out to make sure you get the best car for you.
Buy it Used
One of the best ways to get an affordable car that is still fun is to buy it used. Prices drop rapidly once a car is driven off the lot, and you can use that to your advantage. Look for a car that is three to five years old with low mileage if you need to keep your budget in check. Before you purchase the vehicle, take it to a trusted mechanic like Mister Transmission and have them make sure everything is in great shape. If the car is just a few years old, it may still be under the manufacturer’s warranty which will save you money on repairs and routine maintenance.
Follow these five tips to get the most out of your next vehicle. Driving can be fun and affordable; you just have to be a little extra smart while you are shopping.