Car Purchasing Scenario

In this section, we have written a scenario that will help you identify the previous steps we introduced you to. We will describe a chosen scenario, purchasing a car, which will assist you in using the newly identified skills we previously mentioned.

One of our Critical thinking students, Alison, has decided to purchase a vehicle. She will purchase a vehicle by applying the previously mentioned steps we identified earlier. By assessing each Critical Thinking step, she will be able to make the best decision to fit her needs.

Please read each step and think about how you would use this scenario in your life to identify common life procedures.

Step 1: Identify (How much can you spend, vehicle dynamics)

In this first step, we will identify the amount Alison would like to spend and the dynamics of the vehicle.

The total amount of money is a major factor in buying a car. This is the initial question you should ask yourself in the beginning of the car shopping process, how much do I want to spend and what kind of vehicle am I interested in owning?

Alison does not want to spend more then $15,000 dollars on a car. She also is interested in purchasing the vehicle, not leasing it. She would like to have a two-door vehicle dated between 2007 and 2010. She is interested in purchasing a vehicle with less than 50,000 miles on it. She also wants a vehicle that has a clean title history, one that has never been in an accident.

Alison has a few vehicles in mind, but not sure of the price or the amenities of each one she is considering.

In this step, we have narrowed down many choices. We are now ready to explore what kind of vehicle we would like to purchase.

Step 2: Explore (Look for vehicles that match our criteria)

In this step, we will begin exploring which vehicle we would like to purchase.

In order to find out what type of car we want, we will go to a few websites that list cars in the area, their history, and cost of each vehicle. Exploring this criteria will allow us to begin thinking of what kind of car we can test drive that matches our needs.

After searching on the internet, Alison has located several different types of vehicles she would consider purchasing. On a Saturday afternoon, Alison test drives these four cars :

2009 Ford Focus $12,998

2009 Ford Focus

2007 Honda Civic, 20,000 miles, $14,498

2007 Honda Civic

2006 VW Beetle 33,000 miles, $14,994

2006 Volkswagen Beetle

2008 Toyota Yaris, 18,020 miles, $13,990

2008 Toyota Yaris

Step 3: Prioritize (Which car is the best option to meet your needs?)

After test driving the four cars listed above, Alison now must prioritize the cars in order to begin an assessment. In her process she will value the car in a 1-5 numeric rating, one being the lowest and 5 being the highest, at the end of the evaluation she will then tally her numbers. The cars with the two highest ratings will then carry over to the next step.

Ford Focus Comfort 3 Price Value 5 Miles 5 Look 3 Feel 1 Overall 17
Honda Civic Comfort 3 Price Value 3 Miles 3 Look 5 Feel 5 Overall 19
VW Beetle Comfort 2 Price Value 1 Miles 3 Look 5 Feel 4 Overall 15
Toyota Yaris Comfort 1 Price Value 3 Miles 4 Look 1 Feel 2 Overall 10

The Honda Civic and Ford Focus both have the overall highest levels. We will now proceed to step 4, the "envision" step.

Step 4: Envision (What purchase will ensure your happiness in 3 and 5 years ahead?)

In this step, Alison will assess her future with the car. Which car is more likely to stay maintenance free, which one has the highest user reviews, what is the warranty situation for both vehicles, what is the cost to repair, and can Alison envision herself with this car 5 years from now? These are the important criteria to consider in the envision stage.

Honda Civic Maintenance 5 User Review 5 Warranty 3 years/36,000 miles 1 Cost to repair 3 5 year envision 4 Overall 18
Ford Focus Maintenance 2 User Reviews 3 Warranty 3 years/36,000 miles 1 Cost to repair 2 5 year envision 2 Overall 10

Alison has stepped through all the procedures and has made a decision to buy the Honda Civic.


If you had to make a major life decision, can you use the critical thinking procedures to best identify your outcome. Hopefully, by using this scenario, it will assist you in making major decisions in the future.

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