Best first used cars for beginner

When buying your first car after receiving a driver’s license, you should rather opt for a second-hand vehicle than a brand new one. In this article, you will find valuable recommendations on choosing a worthy used car.

If you have just received your driving license, you might consider buying a second-hand car instead of a brand new one. First, it would not cost you too much, if we calculate both the purchase and the maintenance. Second, you would not feel that stressed after accidentally damaging it. Below, you will find useful tips on selecting your first used car and a few examples of the most popular models in the U.S.

The Primary Criteria to Pay Attention to

An ideal beginner’s car needs to be compact. It will be easier for you to position it on the road and find parking in the streets.

Then, the vehicle needs to be safe. It should be equipped at least with electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes. The older the car, the less safe it is — so here you should find a balance between your budget and a reasonable level of safety.

The price of the insurance should be affordable. Insurance companies realize that a newbie’s vehicle would be more prone to dents and scratches if compared to cars that belong to more experienced drivers. After driving for a year without crashes and accidents, you would be able to obtain a discount for your second-year insurance. But the first 12 months will be costly — so the cheaper the car, the more affordable the insurance.

When deciding on the type of fuel, opt for petrol. Electric automobiles are still too innovative, so their maintenance might turn out to be a costly adventure. Diesel helps truck drivers to cut costs when traveling across the country — but for casual trips, petrol is spot-on. First, the maintenance of the car would be significantly cheaper. Second, the choice of vehicles would be vaster.

For the sake of a broader choice, you should also select a car with manual transmission rather than an automatic one. In the segment of compact budget vehicles, it might not be too easy to find a worthy one with an automatic gearbox. Besides, exercising control over the car’s mechanics would help you to build greater confidence on the road.

When you get behind the wheel of a used car before buying it, pay attention to the subsequent parameters too:

  • Engine and brakes should be responsive
  • Steering needs to be light
  • Gear shift and controls must be user-friendly

Plus, you need to feel comfortable in the driver’s seat and enjoy unobstructed visibility. Below, please find a list of reliable models that a used car dealer would most often sell to newbies. They will be mentioned in alphabetical order so that it is a list and not a rating.

Ford Mustang

It might be not the most obvious option for those looking for budget cars. Yet if you want your vehicle to look elegant and have a lot of horsepower, consider this one. Mustang GT with the 5.0 liter V-8 would be probably the best value for money. However, V-6 would be good for newbies as well.

Honda Civic

It is one of the most popular budget cars on a global scale. If you go abroad, you will be able to rent it nearly in any country. When you need a spare part for it, you will find it effortlessly and at an affordable price. Honda Civic can go for 250,000 miles or more before it starts to experience any issues. If needed, you can easily customize it.

Honda Fit

It easily fits almost any environment and has also turned into a major hit on an international level. The first generation of Honda Fit entered the U.S. market in 2006. Three years later, the second one followed suit. Both of them feature a 1.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine. In the first generation, it produces 109 horsepower, while in the second generation it manages to get as much as 117.

Lexus IS300

If later on, you are planning to invest in an upscale car, this would be a nice one to start with. If compared to other Lexuses, it is more compact and affordable — yet features an identical level of comfort and maneuverability. Moreover, its interior is rather timeless.

Toyota Celica

Being one of the smallest sports cars on the market, this one can boast of high performance combined with economical fuel consumption. It can be equipped with either a 140 or 180 horsepower four-cylinder engine. When buying this model, make sure that its previous owner did not customize it too much and did not use it for street racing too frequently — this might tell on its driving characteristics as well as reliability and responsiveness.

Toyota Highlander

The versatile product range of this brand includes a decent crossover SUV too. You should not subject it to severe off-road challenges — yet its four-wheel-drive system is not afraid of bad weather at all. This car looks rather premium regardless of its age. Environmentally conscious drivers might consider its Hybrid version.

Toyota Tacoma

If you are planning to drive a pickup in the future, this one would be the most affordable starting option. Its best merits are its solid build quality and ability to effortlessly cope with off-road conditions. The car owes its good performance to either 4- or 6-cylinder power plants. The primary drawback of Toyota Tacoma is its crash testing rate that can be characterized as “acceptable” but not “good”. Also, it consumes a bit more fuel if compared to the above-listed vehicles.


Hopefully, these recommendations came in handy and you would feel more confident when selecting your first used car. The aim of this purchase would be not to impress your friends and relatives with your impeccable taste but to provide you with a sufficient driving experience. Apart from the models listed in the text, you might consider any other ones — especially if someone of your acquaintances has already driven such a car and can share their impartial impressions with you. Before paying for the vehicle, make sure that it is safe, comfortable, responsive and consumes fuel economically.



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