The driving license is truly one of life’s rites of passage, one of the first responsibilities of adulthood that a teenager gets to experience. Being able to travel around without parental support is a major step in anyone’s life. But without a car to go along with it, it doesn’t really change much. Now all new drivers will dream of the slick sports car or convertible, but reality has to step in somewhere, and for most of us, there is a budget involved, and matters of keeping insurance and running costs down as well.
This means that first cars tend not to be the dream cars, here is a list of 10 of the most practical cars for first time drivers we can think of.
10. VW Beetle (2006 – )
Whilst the original Beetle has the cuteness and ‘Herbie’ factor, as a car for the modern world it doesn’t really cut it. The new one though, whether it is one of the earlier examples that can be found quite cheaply today, or the later post 2012 model year uprated ones, is a great car in its own right. Managing to retain some of the character of the original whilst being a genuine, modern car with Volkswagen reliability thrown in, it has good crash protection, reasonable insurance costs and gets good gas mileage as well. A little style over substance when it comes to interior space it may be, but for new drivers it strikes a great balance.
9. Ford Fiesta (2010 – )
Available as a hatchback or a sedan, although the hatchback is perhaps the best option retaining truly compact, park anywhere dimensions with a very attractive outline. The Fiesta has been a magnificent success for Ford. And with good reason, it’s great to drive, it gives great gas mileage and cheap insurance, along with class leading collision protection. Early ones are available at good process now, and the proven design (it’s sold all over the world) is extremely reliable. This is a great car for a first time driver, and its fun behind the wheel as well.
8. Honda Civic (various)
Whatever your budget, there is a civic available for you. It’s been through several generations, but the core part of what makes the civic such a great car for new drivers remains throughout. That is cheap running costs, and safety. The new version you get, the better the collision protection as a rule, but even earlier ones are robust and easy to drive machines, offering good gas mileage and low insurance costs.
7. Toyota Tacoma (1998 – )
Something a little different, but even new drivers can be attracted to the benefits of the truck, and this is the best one out there. Covering a price range that will fit almost all budgets, the Tacoma offers good levels of safety, including airbags and decent collision protection. With a variety of engine choices you can find one with reasonable miles per gallon usage, although as is the nature of these cars, nothing like the compacts in this list. If you are a first time driver and want a truck, this is definitely the one to get.
6. Mercedes-Benz Saloon (1976 – 1996)
Specifically the diesel, these cars are as reliable as things get. A larger car, they feel like they are hewn from a solid lump of metal so well-built were they, and although lacking in some electronic aids by today’s standards, still have much to offer. Good fuel mileage, comfort and reliability, and low running costs mean they are the perfect first car. They won’t win any style awards, but they cover all the bases.
5. Toyota Celica (1999 – )
Keeping with the theme, something slightly different again. The Celica is a great looking sports car, but very much a sheep in wolfs clothing. Lower powered engines keep insurance costs down and gas mileage high, whilst they are as well built and reliable as any Toyota.
One for the style conscious, it may look like an expensive car to run, but it isn’t, and remains a practical and economical choice.
4. Ford Fusion (2007 – )
A modern mid-sized sedan and one of Fords best sellers, the Fusion is cheap, readily available and economical to run. Steer clear of the hybrid versions, as maintenance and repairs on those can be astronomical, and you will have a safe and practical car that will serve and new driver well.
3. Honda CR-V (1997 – )
For those who want a compact SUV as their first car, this is the pick of the bunch. Reliability is second to none, they are economical to run and have good safety features. Spacious and well made, the CR-V is not the best looking of the SUV’s, but it is the best one.
2. Ford Focus (2004 – )
The Focus, like its smaller Fiesta cousin, is a good looking car that is great to drive. With a wealth of safety features, reliability and good gas mileage, it is also economical to run and wit the hatchback version practical too. Early cars are now available for very little money, and represent a real stylish alternative to the normal bland sedan.
1. Mini (2006 – )
The most stylish compact around, it’s been through several model changes since the launch of the modern Mini, although they all share a very similar appearance, it takes sharp eyes to distinguish between them. However, all models carried the latest safety technology available at the time they were made, and all have the same, incredibly fun driving experience. Cheap to run, they are very economical, have excellent reliability and cover a wide range of budgets from the early cars to today’s new models. Like the Beetle, it does retain some of the magic of the original whilst bringing modern safety and driving experiences to the package.