The 8 Best Cars For First-Time Buyers (2024)

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black honda civic

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For many people, buying their first car is always a memorable experience, a rite of passage. However, while most people look fondly to their first car, they likely have forgotten how anxiety-inducing the process is. Much like a house, a car is a sizable investment, so you must make the right decisions during the car buying process.

Fortunately, there’s no shortage of options when it comes to cars. In fact, one can say that there are too many makes, models, and specs to choose from; shopping for cars can be overwhelming.

Thus, today, we rounded up some of the best cars for first-time buyers to help make shopping more accessible and fun.


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8 Best Cars for First-Time Buyers

Below are our top picks of the best cars that offer competitive prices and tremendous value to first-time buyers:

1. 2022 Nissan Versa – From $15,580

With a $15k starting price, the 2022 Nissan Versa is a top-notch budget-friendly sedan. Despite its low price, it’s well-equipped, offers plenty of interior space, and has a frugal fuel economy. The 2022 Versa is a bona fide bargain, especially when you look at the state of car prices nowadays.

The Versa is relatively basic with a not-so-thrilling performance, but it’s decently furnished inside, rides comfortably, and has a decent number of standard safety and driver-assistance features. With a 32 city/40 highway mpg fuel economy, the Versa is an excellent car for first-timers.

2. 2022 Hyundai Kona – From $21,300

Subcompact SUVs are all the rage these days, and there are many value-rich models to choose from. The 2022 Hyundai Kona is an easy recommendation for buyers with a budget of over $20k. The base model is available for $21,300 and is powered by a peppy 2.0-liter engine that produces 147 hp. It offers a well-balanced but energetic ride and offers agile handling.

Overall, the Kona is an excellent but affordable crossover SUV that brings a lot to the table. However, its wealth of available tech makes the Kona an excellent SUV package, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support. For a more engaging driving experience, the N-Line variant is worth the look.

3. 2022 Honda Civic – From $22,550

The 2022 Honda Civic isn’t exactly a budget pick, but it still offers a reasonable price tag. And yes, it’s hard to go wrong with the Civic sedan. According to J.D. Power, the 2022 Civic has a predicted reliability rating of 82 out of 100, which is pretty good. There’s a reason why the Civic remains the most popular choice of vehicle for many first-time buyers. It’s simply one of those cars that will take time to grow out of.


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Even with the base edition, the 2022 Civic is fun to drive, has a great selection of infotainment and safety features, and has an excellent fuel economy of 33 city / 42 highway. The base model should be more than enough for first-time buyers since the higher trims have significant dealer markups.

4. 2022 Kia Forte – From $19,090

If you’re looking for a practical and affordable compact sedan, the Kia Forte is another excellent candidate for first-time buyers. The 2022 Forte is now one of the best-looking sedans available, thanks to its sportier look. For 2022, the Forte receives an exterior styling update, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with CarPlay and Android Auto support, and new available packages.

The Forte has a standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with a decent 147 horsepower. It’s just a solid sedan package and should serve first-time buyers well.

5. 2022 Toyota Corolla – From $20,425

Although SUVs are the current best seller in the U.S. market, the venerable Toyota Corolla remains a commercial success. Performance-wise, the 2022 Corolla won’t have anyone’s heart racing with its 139-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine paired with a CVT transmission. However, it offers a smooth ride quality and handling, which is excellent for first-time car owners.

In addition, the 2022 Corolla includes a full slate of driver-assistance features such as lane departure warning, automatic headlights, and adaptive cruise control. The Corolla also has an excellent Hybrid model starting at $23,750.

6. 2022 Mazda CX-30 – From $22,500

The 2022 Mazda CX-30 runs on the smaller end of Mazda’s SUV lineup. The CX-30 is an excellent option for buyers who are not so keen on sedans and hatchbacks but don’t want to pay high SUV prices. Plus, it’s a small crossover SUV, so it’s fun to drive and has agile handling. Furthermore, you get more storage and passenger space than sedans and a better-than-average interior.


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A non-aspirated 186 hp engine powers the Mazda CX-30, but it can be tempting to go for the 2.5-liter turbo with 250 hp. Regardless of your powertrain choice, the CX-30 is simple and one of the best cars for first-time buyers.

7. 2022 Subaru Forester – From $25,895

For first-time buyers with a family in tow, the 2022 Subaru Forester is another top pick for incredible utility and standard all-wheel drive. The Subaru Forester has a better-than-average ground clearance which should help you navigate the great outdoors and off-beaten trails. However, you can check out the Wilderness trim if you prefer a model with more outdoor capabilities.

The Forester is powered solely by a 182-horsepower four-cylinder engine, with a good fuel economy at 26 city / 33 highway mpg ratings. It’s not the most engaging SUV to drive, but it does offer decent handling and ride quality.

8. 2022 Chevrolet Spark – From $13,600

To wrap up this list of the best cars for first-time buyers, we present the most affordable brand-new car available: the 2022 Chevrolet Spark. With a price tag below $15k, the Chevy Spark might seem too good to be true. Right off the bat, the Spark isn’t the quickest car, with a horsepower rating of 98 hp. This isn’t simply the car for long road trips. However, Spark’s value is hard to beat for short trips and city jaunts.

While it’s pretty cramped inside, the Spark offers a surprisingly nice and intuitive infotainment system. And with a fuel economy rating of 30 city / 38 highway, the Spark is more than just a cheap car.

Get a Curated List of the Best Used Cars Near You

The CoPilot car shopping app is the easiest way to buy a car. Tell us what you’re looking for and we’ll search the inventories of every dealership in your area to make you a personalized list of the best car listings in your area.

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The best part? CoPilot is built using the same technology that dealerships use to buy and sell their inventories, so we have more info on each vehicle than competitors. CoPilot doesn’t work with dealerships, so there are no sponsored posts or other shady practices — just the most info on the best cars. Check out our About Us page to see how CoPilot works.