There's nothing quite like the feeling of driving a brand new car off a dealership lot. It's not just that new car smell that makes it exhilarating – it's the sensation of coming home with the latest and greatest in automotive design and technology. With the economy in the midst of a long and shaky recovery, there's never been a better time to buy new. Loan rates are the most favorable they've been in years and many manufacturers are offering a number of promotions and extended warranties to woo new customers. The advantages of owning a new vehicle are undeniable. New cars have a much longer lifespan than used vehicles and are more reliable to boot. And if a problem does happen to arise in the first few years of ownership, the warranty that new cars come with will cover it.

There are also the features to consider. New vehicles come equipped with all sorts of modern bells and whistles that you're unlikely to find on older cars, like center console airbags, motion detecting backup cameras and more. If you're into creature comforts, you won't find a bigger bang for your buck than you will with a new vehicle.

However, these reliable components and cool features aren't going to come cheap. Buying a new vehicle will cost you several thousand dollars more than it would to buy a used version of the same model. This is by no means a deal breaker, but the higher premium does mean that buyers need to their homework before signing off on a loan to ensure that they're making a good investment.

Since research can be tricky, we've created this buying guide to help lead you through the process. Over the next few pages, we'll cover all of the major obstacles you'll face and the decisions you'll need to make when buying a new vehicle. We'll teach you how to pick out a car, how to talk down the sticker price and how to find the best financing for it when you decide to buy. So if you're on the market for a new vehicle, grab a pen and paper and get ready to take notes. We'll start with an overview on what you should be looking for in a new vehicle.

SEE: Beginner's Guide To Auto Insurance


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