The "Altima-te" Car

Colorful cars

Are looks everything?

When shopping for a new car, it’s hard to resist the newest and nicest vehicle on the lot. But LendingTree’s senior marketing product manager, Laura Ashley, will tell you to choose a car based on practicality rather than appearance. If this warning doesn’t work, you might end up like LA, who learned firsthand that trial and error is not a cost-effective method of determining which car is right for you.

“After I graduated high school, my parents gave me a Nissan Altima as a gift,” LA said. “It was a good car, but I had my heart set on something else: a Chevrolet Tahoe.” She drove the Nissan for a while, but LA just couldn’t let go of the feeling that she was missing out.

“The Tahoe was definitely my dream car at the time,” she said. “So even though it was more expensive than the Altima, I decided to take the leap and buy it.” LA signed the trade-in papers and took the monthly car payments head-on. She finally had the keys to her dream car and as far as she was concerned, everything was perfect — for now.

A year later, LA found a house that she loved and decided that she wanted to make the investment.

“I was a little nervous about paying both a car payment and a mortgage payment,” she said. “So I asked my mom for some advice.” But LA’s mom gave a lot more than advice; in fact, she offered to trade her older car for her daughter’s Tahoe. LA gladly accepted, and handed over her once-coveted car without hesitation.

“Soon my mom called me, stressed out because the gas was getting really expensive for the SUV,” said LA. “She was there for me before, so I decided that now it was my turn to help her.” LA and her mother spent many weekends shopping together and looking for a more fuel efficient car to replace the gas-guzzling Tahoe. Finally, after months of searching, they found it.

The car had everything: impressive fuel economy, plenty of loading space and a good-looking exterior. It was — wait for it — a Nissan Altima.

“It was really ironic how we came full circle from Altima to Tahoe to Altima,” said LA. “I guess you end up with the car you’re supposed to have, even if it happens in an unexpected way.”

When buying a car, there is a lot to consider beyond the initial sticker price. Take a look at our article on how to find the new car that's right for you so you can drive off the lot knowing you made the right choice.

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