a new car is the second largest financial decision most people make in their lives after buying a house. On average, people keep their car for 8 years so it's important to pick something you will be happy to hold onto for nearly a full decade. 

That's why it’s a good idea to do a little research before you head down to the car dealership. To help you out, we’ve compiled this handy guide. Here we’ll look at the types of vehicles available, the types of buyers they are suitable for and the best cars in each class.

After reading this guide, you should be able to narrow down your choices to a handful of models. Then we’ll answer the question everyone wants the answer to: should you buy new or used? So, are you ready to choose your next car? Let’s get started.


SUVs are now the best-selling cars in Australia. Buyers love them for their practicality, versatility and safety. They are also good for towing and have spacious interiors, so they’re ideal for big family camping trips.

Most SUVs also come with AWD and have high ground clearance, which makes them ideal for venturing off-road. But they are not for everyone. Running costs are high, and they are not the easiest cars to drive in town.

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Spacious interiors
Elevated driving position
Go anywhere chassis
High towing capacity
Option to seat 7


A big car for town driving
Not the most fuel-efficient
Expensive to buy and run

Who it's suited to

One of the best things about SUVs is the feeling of safety you get from being sat up high. Larger SUVs are also one of the few cars that can seat 7 comfortably. So the SUV is best suited to buyers with large families or those that take long interstate road trips.

Popular makes/models

Mitsubishi ASX
Hyundai Kona
Mazda CX-3
Toyota RAV4
Toyota Landcruiser

Have A Look At The Best Used SUV's In Australia


Utes are synonymous with Australia, so it’s no surprise they are the second best-selling type of vehicle after SUVs. The appeal of utes is obvious: they have a large flatbed, most come with AWD and double-cab versions have plenty of space for the family.

However, utes are not the most refined vehicles on the road and while that flatbed is practical, it’s not the most secure space for luggage. But few will argue that these are extremely capable vehicles that meet the needs of a lot of Australian buyers.


Durable and reliable
Go anywhere chassis
Elevated driving position
Excellent towing capacity


The luggage area is not the most secure
The space inside is limited for families
Not very refined on the road

Who it's suited to

Utes have always been popular with country folks because that's where their practicality and go-anywhere chassis come into their own. But they are also suitable for active types that love the outdoors and don’t have a large family.

Popular makes/models

Toyota Hilux
Ford Ranger
Isuzu D-Max
Mitsubishi Triton

Related: Australia's Top 4X4 Ute's


For a long time sedans were the best-selling cars in Australia. But their popularity has waned in recent years due to the rise of the SUV. But that doesn’t mean you should overlook them, they still make a pretty compelling choice for some buyers.

The biggest advantage sedans have over SUVs is lower running costs. But they also handle much better, especially on twisty roads. So if you value driving dynamics over interior space, sedans make the better option.


Comfy interiors
Fuel efficiency
Good driving dynamics
Refined handling


Low seating position
Not as spacious as SUVs
Low towing capacity
Limited seating capacity

Who it's suited to

Sedans are best suited to drivers who prefer dynamic handling over space and practicality. But space in the back is limited, so if you have more than two kids you may find it a struggle to get everything in.

Popular makes/models

Mazda 3
Toyota Corolla
Audi A4
BMW 3 Series
Genesis G70
Tesla Model 3
Volvo S60

Browse Used Sedans On OnlyCars


Much like sedans, wagons have been surpassed in the sales charts by SUVs. So much so that new wagons are now a rare sight on Australian roads. But for some people that makes them more appealing.

In the metal, there isn’t much to choose between a wagon and an SUV. The latter has more internal volume and slightly higher towing capacity. But wagons have more dynamic handling, a better ride, more performance and lower fuel consumption.


Dynamic handling
Large boot
Good towing capacity
Fuel efficiency
Refined ride


Not as spacious as SUVs
Low driving position
Low ground clearance

Who it's suited to

Sedans are best suited to small families that enjoy a vacation or two but don’t want the hassle of driving a large SUV. They are also handy if you have a dog because it's easy to get them in and out of the boot.

Popular makes/models

Skoda Octavia Wagon
Mazda 6 Wagon
Genesis G70 Shooting Brake
BMW 3 Series Touring
Audi A6 Avant
Volvo V60 Cross Country

Find A Used Wagon On OnlyCars


Hatchbacks remain one of the most popular car segments but their popularity is being eroded by small SUVs. The appeal of the hatchback is due to its practicality and sporty handling. But they are also cheap to buy and cost-effective to run.

However, they are less suitable for long-distance drives and they have relatively low towing capacity. The limited ground clearance also makes them unsuitable for off-road driving. But if you want a cheap family runabout, few things beat a hatchback.


Cheap to buy
Low running costs
Practical boot
Fun to drive
Easy to park


Compact interiors
Small boot
Low towing capacity

Who it's suited to

The hatchback is best suited as a small commuter car. They can carry four and the family dog, but don’t expect to cover a large distance, not in any comfort anyway. They're ideal if you want a small car to get you to work and run errands at the weekend.

Popular makes/models

Hyundai I30
Skoda Fabia
Toyota Yaris
Volkswagen Golf
Mazda 3

See The Best Value Second Hand Hatchbacks

People Movers

People movers are often overlooked by buyers making a beeline for the SUV section of the showroom, but that could be a mistake. People movers offer a commanding driving position, unbeatable interior space, and good road holding.

People movers are also practical, especially if you have a large family. Most come with a third row of seats, which can be easily accessed through large sliding doors. Boot space can be compromised, however, especially if the third row of seats is in use.


Plenty of interior space
Lots of luggage space
Commanding driving position
Can seat up to 8 comfortably


Van like appearance
Not the most fuel-efficient
Limited towing capacity compared to SUVs
High upfront cost

Who it's suited to

The people mover is generally best suited to large families or families that like to go on joint vacations, but their low towing capacity and limited boot space reduce their appeal somewhat compared to SUVs.

Popular makes/models

Honda Odyssey
Toyota Tarago
Kia Carnival
Hyundai Imax
Volkswagen Caddy Life
Mercedes-Benz Vito


Convertibles are not suited to the school run, shopping trips or vacations, but few cars will put a bigger smile on your face than a sporty 2-door convertible. Perfect for weekend drives and the occasional trip to the shops, but not the most practical vehicles.

Despite their limited appeal, it’s refreshing to know that there is a wide range of convertibles available to suit all budgets. You can spend as little as $36,000 on a Mazda MX-5 or as much as $420,000 on a Ferrari 488 Spider.


Fun to drive
Sporty handling
Feel good factor


Limited luggage space
Limited passenger space
Low towing capacity

Who it's suited to

Convertibles are surprisingly practical, so long as you don’t have a family. You can use them for trips to the gym, the odd shopping trip and the daily commute, but with limited passenger space and even less luggage space, they are better suited as a second car.

Popular makes/models

Mazda MX-5
Fiat 500C
Ford Mustang Convertible
Porsche Boxster

Browse The Best Convertible Cars In Australia

Should I buy new or used?

So you’ve narrowed down your choice of car. The next question is should you buy new or used? There are advantages and disadvantages to each.

With a new car, you get the specifications you want and benefit from a long warranty. With a used car, you save money upfront but have to compromise on specifications. You also get a shorter warranty and unpredictable maintenance costs. If you're thinking of buying new, consider that there are currently long wait times on many new cars in Australia due to supply chain shortages.

Ultimately, the choice of whether to buy new or used comes down to what you want from a car and how you intend to use it. We’ve put together the following information to help you decide which option is right for you.

When to buy new:

You are not prepared to compromise on the specification
You want the latest model, no matter how much it costs
You want to enjoy that feeling you get from being the first owner
You want the peace of mind that comes with having a long warranty

When to buy used:

You want to save money on the upfront purchase cost
You are looking to get a higher-spec car for your budget
You don’t want to wait for a new car
You are happy to put up with higher maintenance costs

There is nothing wrong with either option. Some people will only ever buy new, while others prefer to save money on the used market. The choice is yours. But if you decide to buy used, there are three rules to follow that will reduce the risk of buying a dud.

1. Only buy from a reputable dealer (like those on OnlyCars)
2. Make sure you get at least a 12-month warranty.
3. Buy a low-mileage car with full maintenance history.

One final thing to consider: whether you are buying new or used, don’t buy any car on spec. Make sure you arrange a test drive to ensure you are happy with the way it drives and feels. Only then should you sign on the dotted line.

For a great deal on financing your new purchase, contact Australia's best reviewed finance broker on 1300 Credit (1300 273 348) today or visit

Jordan Ballard

Jordan Ballard

Automotive Content Editor

Jordan is a car finance and automotive industry specialist at Only Cars. With over 20 years of experience with frontline and management roles in sales, finance and other areas, Jordan has an incredible understanding of the automotive industry. As Automotive Content Editor, Jordan loves sharing his passion for cars with the Only Cars audience.