I have recently been in the market for a car. While I'm not too knowledgeable about cars, I have been thinking for some time about what a car means to someone and how it defines a person. There are so many factors to consider, but perhaps the first thing that I began thinking about was deciding between an import or a local model. They both have their pros and cons.
I find these days that a lot of my friends have decided to go with imports. Most of the people I know who imported were highly pragmatic people, with no intention of portraying a certain image with their car. They just wanted to have a car to go from one place to another, and not have their lives defined by it. Many of them have been with their cars for some time now, and while there are the occasional problems (often because foreign cars may not be well accustomed to local roads and weather conditions), they have never complained. The cars are reliable, safe, and have their own inner beauty.
At the same time, the foreign car has certain limitations. Often, they tend to be more expensive. While the cost of materials may be cheaper, when you add in the freight and other charges, it adds up. Whenever anything goes wrong with the car, it can often be a very expensive task to get things back in shape. Also, they often have certain quirks that cannot be dealt with appropriately in North America. Sometimes the part you need can only be found back at the manufacturer abroad; that makes maintenance quite expensive. Granted, they generally need less maintenance overall.
As for North American cars, the options are much more limited. To find a good domestic car is not an easy endeavour, but it may be worth the effort in the long run. Domestic models tend to be built for the surrounding environment, thus often making them more suitable for many people. The initial purchase of these cars tend to be cheaper, informed advice is more readily available regarding their particularities, and parts are generally cheaper. If anything goes considerably wrong, you would not need to go far for service.
While the cost of parts may be cheaper, these cars tend to need maintenance more often. In many ways, they tend to be more expensive even though the initial purchase cost may be less. Sometimes these machines are built more for style and image than performance, which becomes noticeable after some time. Even then, people I know with these cars end up spending even more money on maintaining the style than on ensuring decent performance.
One friend of mine frequently urges me to go with a North American car in order to support the local market. Too often, he says, people go out and buy foreign cars and then the North American market suffers. He reminds me that people living abroad don't buy North American cars much, so if we don't support our own local economy, the entire system will suffer as a whole.
I've also received advice going the other way, that a foreign car is the best option. One friend keeps on telling me that if I went ahead and settled with a foreign car, I'd be much happier for it. He reminded me that owning a North American car would make it difficult to spend my money on things important to me, since so much would end up going into maintaining the car. I recently even visited a foreign dealership where salespeople worked very hard on convincing me of the benefits of their machines, though nothing I saw then interested me.
In my family, I've seen both. My eldest brother has settled comfortably with a North American Cavalier, while my two other brothers have foreign cars. Overall, they all seem really happy with their cars, so I guess it really just depends on one's own personality. At this point, I have no idea which option would be better for me.