You’ll be best served with a car that’s safe, reliable and technologically advanced if you’re a first time buyer. It’s helpful to be certain that car is affordable as well. Despite the fact the average new car transaction price is $38,000 these days, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association, a number of good choices can be had for significantly less. Consumer Reports (CR) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) teamed up to compile a list of best cars for first time buyers.
What Makes a Good Choice?
Among the attributes Consumer Reports considered criteria for this list are, reliability, safety, performance and cutting edge active safety features. These include forward collision warning and automatic braking. The IIHS insisted cars making this list also be consider Top Safety Picks based on crash test results, the ability to avoid accidents and a minimum of a four-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Small Cars – Honda Insight
With a starting price of $22,930, Honda’s Insight is capable of delivering an incredible 54 miles per gallon. For all intents and purposes, the Insight is really a hybrid Honda Civic, which means all of the positive qualities of that model translate here. Insight is pleasant to drive, remarkably refined and nicely equipped.
Mid-Sized Cars – Subaru Legacy
Redesigned for the 2020 model year, the Legacy has a fresh new look, both inside and out. Despite the car’s $22,745 starting price, the Legacy has a richness of appearance that will have everyone thinking you paid more. Further qualifying the Legacy as one of the best cars for first time buyers is the fact that comfort is good at all four seating positions and you can expect to average 34 miles per gallon.
Small SUVs – Mazda CX-3
In one of the most competitive segments of the car market today, the Mazda CX-3 is a standout because it’s fun to drive, handsomely styled and reasonably priced, starting at $20,640. Even better, the interior treatment looks like car is more expensive than it actually is. A strong selection of the best tech you’d want is standard equipment and did we mention it’s fun to drive too?
Mid-sized SUVs – Hyundai Santa Fe
As a brand, Hyundai is noted for providing an outstanding value for the dollar. Starting at $26,275, the Hyundai Santa Fe is an outstanding example of this. Spacious, well equipped, quiet and engaging to drive, the Santa Fe can truly be said to be punching above its weight class. Even better, Hyundai stands behind its mechanicals with one of the most exceptional warranties offered — 10 years or 100,000 miles.
Other Good Choices Include
Jeep’s Compass is one of the best-looking models in the compact SUV category, with the added of advantage of having strong off road abilities for those inclined toward outdoor adventure. The Toyota Corolla is a shoo-in for any list of best cars for first time buyers, with its bulletproof reputation for reliability and strong list of safety features. Along those same lines, Kia’s Forte has a lot going for it as well. It’s handsome, sporty and still ticks all of the practicality boxes.
For the sake of brevity, we’ve limited our coverage to the four least expensive models in each category on the CR/IIHS list. There are many more from which to choose there. You’ll find the entire list of best cars for first time buyers as recommended by Consumer Reports and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety at the Consumer Reports website.