If you’re a new driver and you’re ready to buy your first car, you might be overwhelmed at all the different options on the market today. Even if you choose a car with a high safety rating, you should still be aware that driving is more dangerous for those lacking in experience. However, certain cars have more to offer new drivers than others. When car shopping, look for something that offers safety, reliability and ease of operation.
1. The Toyota Prius C
Whether you’re a passionate environmentalist or you just want to save money on fuel, you will love the cute and sporty Toyota Prius C. This is currently one of the most-affordable hybrids on the market, priced at just under $20,000 and offering an impressive 50 miles to the gallon. It has also received top marks for safety from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
2. The Kia Soul
The Kia Soul has been redesigned for 2014, and the new model has been approved for better handling. The Soul is a great car for new drivers because its small size makes it easier to park. It’s also received excellent crash-test scores and a Top Safety Pick award from IIHS. The best part is the price. If you’re seeking a manual transmission, you can get yourself a Soul at around $15,700. If you need an automatic transmission, you’ll pay an additional $1,800. Either way, this is an affordable little car with a lot to offer.
3. The Chevrolet Spark
This car offers many of the same benefits as the Soul: small size, good gas mileage, easy handling and a cute appearance that most young drivers will love. However, the Spark is even more affordable at $12,995—a price that includes air conditioning and power windows. The IIHS deemed it a Top Safety Pick, and thanks to its ten airbags, it’s considered one of the safest small cars on the market today.
4. The Honda Civic
No list of good vehicles for new drivers would be complete without the Honda Civic, a car that has maintained a long-standing reputation of excellence. Civics are known to be built with quality, meaning that if you buy one as a teenager, you will likely still be driving it in your mid-twenties and beyond. It has earned a Top Safety Pick Plus award from IIHS, receiving the highest scores possible across all categories. If you’re concerned about the environment or saving on gas money, you’ll love the Civic hybrid or the natural-gas model. The Civic starts at $18,110, which is a bit pricier than some of the other cars on this list, but you will certainly get your money’s worth when it comes to quality.
5. The Nissan Versa
The Nissan Versa is currently the most-affordable car sold in the United States, priced at an unbelievably reasonable $11,750. It has many qualities that make it a great car for beginners, including simple operation, a roomy interior and an affordable GPS system that can really aid new drivers when it comes to finding their way around. Like the Civic, Nissans are known for their quality construction, and if you invest in one, it’s safe to say you’ll be driving (and loving) it for many years.