Getting your first car is easily one of the best moments of your life. It’s a rite of passage that gives you the ability to go anywhere — at least, as far as your budget can take you. Since you got your driver’s permit, you’ve had your eyes on something like a Chevy Camaro or Volkswagen Beetle, but style isn’t the only thing you should consider.
Nothing is worse than getting stuck on the side of the road because your car broke down, especially when you’re still making payments. Trust me — I’ve been there. Reliability doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style! These cars are perfect for first-time buyers.
2016 Toyota Corolla
The Toyota Corolla has been one of the best-selling and most reliable vehicles for decades. Your mom probably drove one, but thankfully the style has come a long way since the ‘90s. Now with a sportier look, it comes with an overall 5.0 rating by JD Power Associates.
I’ve had a Corolla for a year now, and the only money I’ve spent is for regular maintenance like oil changes, so that makes the starting MSRP of $18,960 even more appealing. The MPG for the Corolla is top-notch with 29 in the city and 37 on the highway.
Chevrolet is another brand that stands out when it comes to mechanical reliability, and The Impala is one of the best. It’s been in production for decades, and it shows. The overall JD Power Score is 4.5, with fantastic mechanical ratings. I got this car as a rental and almost didn’t give it back. It’s an incredibly smooth ride and starts with an MSRP of $27,095 and gets 22 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway.
2016 Kia Soul
The Kia Soul has hands down one of the best car commercials thanks to the hamster mascots, but that isn’t the only reason the Kia Soul is a great first car. It also has a 5.0 quality rating with JD Power, meaning you’ll spend less on repairing your car and more time buying what you love. The MSRP is also incredibly cheap at $17,400, which makes it the cheapest on this list. The Soul gets 24 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.
2016 Honda Civic
Most people list Honda as a great brand if you’re looking for a car that won’t leave you stranded. The Honda Civic is easily the best car that this manufacturer has to offer. The Civic has a 4.5 overall quality rating with JD Power and 4.5 consumer review on Edmunds. Owners love these cars, particularly since it has a starting MSRP of $18,640. Since the Civic is small, it gets great gas mileage with 27 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway.
2016 Hyundai Accent
The Hyundai Accent has high-reliability ratings and an overall JD Power quality score of 4.5. What makes the Hyundai Accent perfect for first-time buyers is the incredibly low price with an MSRP of $14,745. This sedan also gets great fuel economy at 27 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway.
According to Edmund’s True Cost to Own, you won’t even need to make repairs until you’ve owned the car for five years and even then, the amount is usually under $1,000.
The Kia Optima has an overall JD Power quality score of 4.5 with high mechanical scores. Kia has really low-cost vehicles that are mechanically sound and the Optima reflects this with an MSRP of $22,140. The gas mileage estimates at 24 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway.
If you’re looking for more gas mileage, the The Kia Optima is also very reliable and gets better mileage at 36 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway. The starting MSRP for the Hybrid starts at $25,995.
2016 Toyota Prius
The Prius is the perfect option for those of you concerned about your carbon footprint. It’s a little on the pricey side with an MSRP of $24,200, but you save money on gas in the long-run because you can get 54 mpg in the city and 50 mpg on the highway.
The Prius also has Toyota’s outstanding reliability with a powertrain (your engine and transmission) score of 4.5. According to Edmunds users, the Prius is fantastic with 4.5/5 stars.
2016 Nissan Sentra
You might wonder why the Altima isn’t the top vehicle with Nissan, but The Nissan Sentra has much better mechanical scores. According to JD Power, it has a 5.0 quality score, which is as high as you can get for a vehicle.
The Sentra starts with an MSRP of $16,780 and has good gas mileage at 27 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. The Sentra has the bonus of having a great crash test rating according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
At first glance, The Mazda3 doesn’t look like that great of a car, but the powertrain mechanical score is 4.5, which is excellent for any first-time buyer. No one wants to spend tens of thousands on a vehicle and then have to pay $3,000 for a new transmission or engine. The MSRP starts at $17,845 and the gas mileage gets as high as 29 mpg in the city and 41 mpg on the highway.
2016 Buick Verano
Buick creates very luxurious vehicles that are extremely reliable. The Buick Verano has a 3.5 quality score with the power train quality at a high 4.5. Buicks can be expensive, but the Verano has a starting MSRP of $21,065. The gas mileage for this car estimates at 21 mpg for the city and 32 mpg on the highway.
One of the best things about buying a Buick is the warranty that comes with each vehicle. It has a 6-year/70,000 power train warranty that is perfect for every first-time buyer.
Just as important as the look and feel of your sweet new ride is the insurance you choose to protect you in case an accident does occur. To help you make the right decision you should first get an Instant Car Insurance quote from Allstate here — they are the experts, after all.