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What car should I buy?

​"What kind of car should I get?" - A tough question.

So, you want to buy a car. To help you out, we’ve come up with this guide to help you choose the right car for your price-range, requirements and stage in life.

Follow the simple steps below, and you should be shopping for cars that are a perfect fit for you in no time.

How to use this guide

1. Select what type of car you are looking for from the options below
2. Refine your search down to the specific price-point or sub-category (laid out in the tables)
3. Read our expert reviews and find a car on Autotrader

What type of car fits your lifestyle?

Let’s narrow the field a bit and put some cars in front of you that’ll make you think “yes, that suits me!”. Firstly, you’ll need to quiz yourself to figure out what kind of car best suits your needs or lifestyle. 

We’ve split the Australian car market into nine segments:

SUV

The Mazda CX-5 is currently Australia's best-selling SUV. The Mazda CX-5 is currently Australia's best-selling SUV.

SUVs now outsell the traditional sedan in Australia’s market thanks to their perceived practicality, safety and versatility. Suited to families, they are broken down into small SUVs (think Mazda CX-3), Mid-size SUVs (like the Honda CR-V) and large or seven-seat SUVs (e.g. Hyundai Santa Fe)

Ute

The Ford Ranger frequently does battle with the Toyota HiLux as Australia's most loved ute. The Ford Ranger frequently does battle with the Toyota HiLux as Australia's most loved ute.

Utes frequently take out the top-spot as Australia’s best-selling vehicle. While the term ‘ute’ used to refer to locally-produced utility versions of sedans it is now synonymous with what much of the world calls a ‘pick-up truck’. Australia’s favourites include the Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger and Mitsubishi Triton.

Sedan

It's hard not to imagine a sedan without conjuring up visions of Toyota's Camry. It's hard not to imagine a sedan without conjuring up visions of Toyota's Camry.

Sedans are the ‘traditional’ car. Although they are not as popular as they used to be, segment juggernauts like the Toyota Camry still persevere. Sedans can be split into small (Mazda3), medium (Toyota Camry) and large (Mercedes-Benz S-Class) sizes.

Wagon

Skoda is one of the few manufacturers still sticking with the practical wagon bodystyle. Skoda is one of the few manufacturers still sticking with the practical wagon bodystyle.

Once a popular family choice, wagons are now a niche alternative to SUVs. Popular cars in this segment include the Subaru Outback and Mazda6 wagon.

Hatchback

Korean manufacturers like Hyundai with the i30 (pictured) and Kia with the Cerato have made good headway in Australia's hatch market. Korean manufacturers like Hyundai with the i30 (pictured) and Kia with the Cerato have made good headway in Australia's hatch market.

Hatchbacks power ahead as one of Australia’s most popular car segments, although they are now losing ground to small SUVs. Mainly suited to younger or budget-conscious buyers, popular hatchbacks include the Mazda2, Toyota Corolla and Hyundai i30.

People Movers

The Kia Carnival is has established itself as one of the best people movers on the market since the current-generation's introduction in 2015. The Kia Carnival is has established itself as one of the best people movers on the market since the current-generation's introduction in 2015.

An underrated alternative to large SUVs, people movers like the Kia Carnival, Hyundai iLoad and Honda Odyssey can be a more elegant solution for ferrying large families around thanks to their larger sliding side doors. People movers have seven or more seats.

Coupe

The Toyota 86 is one of the few 'affordable' coupes still available. The Toyota 86 is one of the few 'affordable' coupes still available.

Suited mainly for singles, couples or as a weekend vehicle, coupes are two or four seat, mainly sporting vehicles. Popular examples in Australia include the Ford Mustang, Toyota 86 and BMW 2 Series.

Convertible

Mazda has been producing the cult-legend MX-5 convertible since the late '80s. Mazda has been producing the cult-legend MX-5 convertible since the late '80s.

An alternative to coupes but often heavier or less practical, convertibles are vehicles suited for leisure duties only. Popular convertibles in Australia include the Mazda MX-5, Ford Mustang convertible and Mercedes-Benz E-Class convertible.

Commercial vehicle

Commercial vehicles range from the Ford Transit van (pictured here) to cab-over trucks. Commercial vehicles range from the Ford Transit van (pictured here) to cab-over trucks.

Commercial vehicles can be anything from utes to light trucks and vans. They are less suited for families and more suited to solely focus on work duties. The category is diverse, ranging from the small Citroen Berlingo to the larger Hino 300 Series truck.

Okay, I know what segment I like, now which cars should I be looking at?

Good question. Next, we’ll brake down the market by segment, starting with the type of vehicle your statistically likely to be considering – an SUV.

Which SUV should I buy?

While the perception is that SUVs are larger and more practical than their hatchback, sedan or wagon counterparts, this can change depending on which one you choose. Each of the three main SUV size categories now have luxury, hybrid and diesel options, so there is now plenty of choice in this segment.

Best SUVs by priceBest SUVs by sizeBest SUVs by category
Under $25kUnder $60kSmall7-seaterFamilyFuel efficient
Under $30kUnder $70kMidsize8-seaterLuxuryDiesel
Under $40kUnder $80kLarge Off-roadHybrid
Under $50kOver $80kExtra-Large Performance 

Ready to buy an SUV?

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See all used SUVs for sale on Autotrader.
Find an SUV dealer near you.

Which ute should I buy?

Utes are split into more industrial-focused single-cab types, or more versatile dual-cab set-ups. Dual cabs are becoming a popular choice for a vehicle that suits both work and family conditions. Make sure you consider the number of passengers you will need to transport, as well as the off-road ability that is suited to you before you buy.

Best utes by priceBest utes by sizeBest utes by category
Under $30kOver $70kLight commercial4x4Single cab
Under $50k Heavy duty4x2Extra cab
Under $70k  Fuel efficientDual cab

Ready to buy a ute?

See all new utes for sale on Autotrader.
See all used SUVs for sale on Autotrader.
Find a ute dealer near you.

Which sedan should I buy?

Sedans are broken into small sedans, which are often based on hatchbacks, medium sedans still suited as much to most families as SUVs and large sedans which are often priced and marketed in the luxury space.

Best sedans by priceBest sedans by sizeBest sedans by category
Under $25kUnder $60kSmallFamilyHybrid
Under $30kUnder $70kMidsizeLuxury 
Under $40kUnder $80kLargePerformance 
Under $50kOver $80kExtra-LargeFuel efficient 

Ready to buy a sedan?

See all new sedans for sale on Autotrader.
See all used sedans for sale on Autotrader.
Find a sedan dealer near you.

Which hatchback should I buy?

Hatchbacks can also be small (think Mazda2) or medium-sized (think Toyota Corolla). They also vary wildly in interior space, practicality and luxury, so ensure you pick one in the category most suited to your needs

Best hatchbacks by priceBest hatchbacks by sizeBest hatchbacks by category
Under $25kUnder $60kCityFamilyHybrid
Under $30kUnder $70kSmallLuxury 
Under $40kUnder $80kMidsizePerformance 
Under $50kOver $80kLargeFuel efficient 

Ready to buy a hatchback?

See all new hatchbacks for sale on Autotrader.
See all used hatchbacks for sale on Autotrader.
Find a hatchback dealer near you.

Which wagon should I buy?

Wagons are an endangered species among automakers in Australia, so your choices of brand and price are limited. There are still a few, cheaper, hatch-based wagons, but most sedan-based wagons are now exclusively the realm of more premium European brands.

Best wagons by priceBest wagons by sizeBest wagons by category
Under $25kUnder $60kSmallFamily
Under $30kUnder $70kMidsizeLuxury
Under $40kUnder $80kLargePerformance
Under $50kOver $80k Fuel efficient

Ready to buy a wagon?

See all new wagons for sale on Autotrader.
See all used wagons for sale on Autotrader.
Find a wagon dealer near you.

People movers

For those not enamoured with the idea of driving around a generally tall and wide seven-seat SUV, there are still several popular people movers to choose from in either affordable or luxurious categories. People movers are even disproportionately popular as grey imports, so there are exotic Japanese options to pick from on the used market.

Best people movers by priceBest people movers by sizeBest people movers by category
Under $30kUnder $70kSmallLuxury
Under $40kUnder $80kMidsizeFuel efficient
Under $50kOver $80kLarge 

Ready to buy a people mover?

See all new people movers for sale on Autotrader.
See all used people movers for sale on Autotrader.
Find a people mover dealer near you.

Coupe

Coupes range from small and sporty to luxurious and large, the cost of entry is relatively high compared to other categories of vehicle, although there is still a great span of available marques and price brackets.

Best coupes by priceBest coupes by sizeBest coupes by category
Under $50kSmallExtra LargeLuxury
Under $100kMidsize Performance
Over $100kLarge Hybrid

Ready to buy a coupe?

See all new coupes for sale on Autotrader.
See all used coupes for sale on Autotrader.
Find a coupe dealer near you.

Convertible

Convertibles follow the same principles on price as coupes. Again, there is still a large amount of choice in the market, with a high cost of entry

Best convertibles by priceBest convertibles by sizeBest convertibles by category
Under $50kSmallLuxury
Under $100kMidsizePerformance
Over $100kLargeFuel efficient

Ready to buy a convertible?

See all new convertibles for sale on Autotrader.
See all used convertibles for sale on Autotrader.
Find a convertible dealer near you.

Commercial vehicles

Commercial vehicles cover a wide spectrum of vehicles for work purposes, generally vans or light trucks. Pricing and size are largely dependant on your specific requirements and the category of vehicle.

Best commercials by priceBest commercials by sizeBest commercials by category
Under $25kUnder $60kLightOff roadTruck
Under $30kUnder $70kHeavyFuel efficient 
Under $40kUnder $80k Ute 
Under $50kOver $80k Van 

Ready to buy a commercial vehicle?

See all new commercial vehicles for sale on Autotrader.
See all used commercial vehicles for sale on Autotrader.
Find a commercial vehicle dealer near you.

Did you find the perfect car for you? Tell us if you found our buying guide useful in the comments below.