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Here’s How to Find a Car You’ll Both Love

Couple enjoying scenic ocean views while standing against car.
Photo: iStock
Compromise is key for jump-starting your car search.

When it comes down to the practicalities of coupledom (like whose turn it is to wash the dishes or go grocery shopping), none can be as fraught with differing opinions as buying your first car together. Even if the plan is for one of you to be the primary driver, finding a car you'll be equally happy with—and not just feel like you're borrowing from the other person—can be a challenge. That's especially true when you're not even on the same page about what type of vehicle to get. So if your partner is set on an SUV and you want a sedan, don't despair. We came up with helpful compromises that'll make you both happy. And when you're ready to narrow down and compare your top-priority features, use Autotrader to shop all the cars and find the one of your (shared) dreams.

Sensible Hatchback vs. Heavy-Duty Truck

Thanks to its roomy interior and cargo space, the hatchback is a go-to car for many, while trucks are great for doing the dirty work of hauling around power tools and furniture, and driving through mud and rough terrain. But unless that's part of your job descriptions, you can meet in the middle with an all-wheel drive car that's a little more grounded—literally and figuratively.

Car compromise: With its up-for-anything capabilities, an all-wheel-drive wagon is the perfect marriage: a roomy, fuel-efficient car you can reliably use for both off-road adventures and everyday trips around town. The rugged Subaru Outback can handle it all, with an integrated crossbar roof rack, large cargo area with split folding seats and noise-reducing windows. But don't overlook the BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon. It has the luxe, comfortable interiors the manufacturer is known for, plus four driving settings to adapt to any conditions, making it an all-terrain car that isn't afraid to get dirty.

Practical Compact vs. Versatile SUV

The attractiveness of an affordable, fuel-efficient compact sedan is hard to turn down. But it's also tough to argue against the versatility of a large SUV. Hey, some people just like riding above the road. Enter the crossover: With the features of an SUV on the frame of a sedan, it has something for everyone.

Car compromise: Compact crossover SUVs are roomier than traditional sedans, but without the fuel-efficiency trade-offs of SUVs past. The aptly named Ford Escape is a fun ride with smart tech features (like Enhanced Active Park Assist and Auto Start-Stop Technology) designed to make life easier and keep you connected, wherever your weekend to-do list takes you. The completely redesigned Honda CR-V is another pioneer in the crossover segment, with all the creature comforts and utility you'd expect, including best-in-class cargo space and a new, more fuel-efficient turbo engine.

Sports Car vs. Family Sedan

Family cars can get a bad rap, which isn't exactly fair. After all, they are generally as reliable, comfortable and affordable as they come. But that doesn't mean they can't also be as eye-catching and exhilarating to drive as a roadster coupe, while still suitable for hauling your kids around town.

Car compromise: A sports-car enthusiast wouldn't pass on the chance to drive around the block in a snappy motorsports-inspired sedan with a turbocharged engine. Making its stateside debut this year, the Audi RS 3 is a powerful ride that can go from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds. For a more affordable contender with a base price just under $35,000, take a look at the Cadillac ATS. It's newly redesigned to look like a sports car and equipped with plenty of standard features to make wannabe racers happy, whether you're heading out for date night or just picking up the dry cleaning.

Rugged Four-Wheeler vs. Flashy Whip

A car is often an extension of our personalities, not just a way to get from point A to point B. But if you're a cosmopolitan couple who likes to escape your city for scenic weekend escapes, you might be conflicted about whether to get a car that places an emphasis on form and function or stylish aesthetics.

Car compromise: A subcompact SUV will help you squeeze into tight spaces in the city and let you enjoy the open road (with plenty of room for your suitcases). With optional all-wheel drive, the Chevy Trax is a muscular and modern-styled crossover. It's just tough enough for back-road camping getaways, yet compact and refined for urban cruising, complete with OnStar 4G LTE and Wi-Fi connectivity for up to seven devices. If you're looking for something a little more unique, the Kia Soul could be your pick. Underneath its flashy exterior is a solid package of tech and sophisticated touches, and with the optional turbo engine, it's ready to hit the highway hard as well.

Eco-Friendly Hybrid vs. Fast and Fun Coupe

For one of you, there may be no question at all about buying a hybrid or electric car. But if your other half is worried about performance, rest assured you can have both. Eco-cars have come a long way over the years; today's models are more powerful and have longer ranges than earlier environmentally-friendly offerings.

Car compromise: Try a spacious fuel-efficient car that's actually fast, fun to drive and won't break the bank. The Toyota Prius name has long been synonymous with hybrid cars, and for good reason: It's a reliable, comfortable vehicle with better fuel economy than its peers. But the Toyota Prius Prime takes things a step further with an even-more-efficient plug-in option. If you don't want to take any trips to the gas station at all, the just-released 2018 Nissan Leaf is the electric car for you—with an affordable sub-$30,000 sticker price, natch. The single-pedal vehicle (no separate break needed) offers semi-autonomous driving, gets 150 miles per charge, and is the perfect ride for those weekend day trips you always talk about taking, but never get around to planning.


The Nest and Autotrader present Hit the Road, a sponsored series featuring tips and advice to help you find your next car. Ready to shop all the cars? Visit Autotrader to explore the possibilities.