At 21 years old, I don’t have a ton of experience when it comes to buying a car. I have owned two cars in my life. One being a 2000 Toyota Solara, the other a 2010 Ford Escape. Since my time working at Autotrader, I have acquired some additional knowledge that has made me confident in “car talk” and, maybe, more importantly, car research. As I look back on my personal timeline, it’s interesting to reflect on what desires I prioritized. Here’s a timeline of the cars I once desired and how quickly those changed over the years. If you’re just out of college or a completely new driver and are looking to buy a car, you might want to look ahead a little.
When I was 16, I wanted popular. I wanted what everyone else had. I wanted a 2013 Jeep Wrangler. A solid option. I liked the size, and was a fan of minimalism at the time. I wanted to get from point A to point B and listen to my music. The Uconnect voice command with Bluetooth was a beautiful thing. After begging for this brand new car, it was decided that my driving skills were incredibly subpar and an older car would be a better fit.
As I was about to begin my journey off to college — I, like many others, wanted newer. It didn’t mean I was going to get a new car, but a girl can dream. I’d like to believe my dreams were pretty realistic. At this point in my life I wanted big. I wanted a car big enough to hold all my friends for those long road trips to the beach for spring break. A car big enough to hold all my luggage when I came home for summer break. My dream car was a 2015 Toyota 4Runner. In addition to the Bluetooth, the back-up camera was just the cherry on top. Not something I thought I wanted until I saw it was an option.
Age 20 was the year that I had to retire my Toyota Solara. Let’s just say the incident involved: my mom, an early morning and not nearly enough caffeine to keep her aware of her surroundings. After I turned in the Solara, I got to pick what my next car was going to be. I decided on the 2010 Ford Escape. I can honestly say it’s the perfect fit for my lifestyle. Four doors, Bluetooth, plenty of cargo space and heated seats. Let me tell you, heated seats are a luxury we should NEVER take for granted.
Moving forward, I want to prioritize safety when I decide to buy a car next. Features such as Apple CarPlay, forward-collision warning and lane-keeping assist have become must-haves for me. These features aren’t just the “cherry on top” anymore. These features can simplify my life and protect me from dangers on the road. It’s crazy to think I’ve been driving on the road for almost six years now. My best advice for all of those young millennials like me is to choose a car that fits into your lifestyle long-term, rather than a car that just fits in for a couple of years. That pretty new Jeep Wrangler might no longer be a great fit for your life when you get your first big kid job in the city and have to sit in traffic for over an hour.