10 Safest Cars for First-Time Drivers (Under $20k)
When our children finally reach the age to drive on their own, our number one focus is that they find a vehicle that is safe.
The only problem is the safer the vehicle, the more $ it will cost.
We do not want our children to drive a “clunker” and we don’t want them driving a car that will break the bank.
That is why we created a list of the 10 safest cars for first time drivers that are all under $20,000 and explained the reasons why we believe each will best protect their drivers best.
The features we reviewed include:
-Overall Safety Ratings
-Unique Safety Features
-Roll Over Rating
And later in this article, we offer 5 bonus tips for buying a first-time vehicle.
Top 10 List –
#10 – Mazda3 ($18,000 – $19,000)
Here is why we recommend the Mazda3 model.
With its beautiful exterior and great features, this was one of the top surprises of the year because it offers a great fuel economy. This model got an overall five star safety rating and for side crashes and frontal crashes it scored five out of five while in rollover tests it scored four out of five stars.
The Mazda 3 has excellent handling for its category and price range. This has shown decreases in oncoming accident rates.
#9 – Kia Forte ($16,000-$19,000)
Here is why we recommend the Kia Forte model.
Kia is one of the few cars within its price range that is held in such high safety ratings and the LX trim consumes a gallon every 39 miles on the highway. You can either settle for the LX trim or the 173 horsepower EX model as they are both rated with five stars from NHTSA, with perfect scores on the side crash test and four stars on both front crash and rollover test.
Over the last couple of years, KIA has improved its performance and safety and should definitely be in consideration when looking to purchase.
#8 – Dodge Dart ($16,000-$19,000)
Here is why we recommend the Dodge Dart
If you are looking for an efficient yet a safe car look no further, the Dodge Dart’s efficiency picks up at the consumption of a gallon per every 41 miles on the highway.
Although it may be slightly more expensive than other options, it will make up for it at the gas pump.
The model bagged the win in the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ in 2015 and it’s rated with five stars on NHTSA crash test; with perfect scores in front and side crash tests and four stars in the rollover test.
#7 – Honda Fit ($18,000 – $19,000)
Here is why we recommend the Honda Fit model.
The car got a redesign in 2015 and is now prettier on the exterior while its interior is well rounded and more spacious as compared to the previous model. For young people who love speed and power, there are high trims for some extra bucks. It received an overall five stars from the NHTSA for safety, five out of five stars for side crashes while they got four out of five stars for roll over tests.
You are getting more acceleration for the price. Although an accelerated vehicle results in more damages upon impact, the extra speed also allows drivers to avoid certain accidents as well.
#6 – Hyundai Elantra ($17,000-$18,000)
Here is why we recommend the Hyundai Elantra model.
Other than the slight complain about the headroom (which is a concern for tall individuals in car accidents), it is featured as being one of the most reasonable cars in the market in terms of SE trims as it runs 38 miles per gallon on the highway. Not only is it rated with a perfect five stars by NHTSA on crash tests, it gets five stars on side crash tests and four out of five in rollover and front crash tests it also emerged among the Top Safety Pick for 2014 by the IIHS.
#5 – Volkswagen Jetta ($16,000 – $17,000)
Here is why we recommend the Volkswagen Jetta model.
Another well recognizable model.
This is one of the best-selling cars in the U.S from the German automobile maker as many people see it as efficient and reasonable. The NHTSA has given it five stars for safety while it has four out of five stars in rollover and front crash tests while the perfect side crash gives it five stars.
#4 – Hyundai Veloster ($17,500 – $18,500)
Here is why we recommend the Hyundai Veloster model.
This is one of the most efficient cars in terms of fuel economy and it goes 35 miles per gallon on the highway while its turbo options are affordable and it also introduces the “stealth” third door. It also comes with options of turbo to those people who love speed. The NHTSA gave it a five star rating on round crash tests that includes a five star for side crash tests, four out of five stars for rollover tests and four out of five stars for front crash tests.
#3 – Honda Civic Sedan ($18,000 – $19,000)
Here is why we recommend the Honda Civic Sedan model.
It not only come with a better shape but it has improved safety features plus for those who love power and speed, the Honda Civic Sedan has upper trims that can serve them right. According to the NHTSA, under front crash test, it scored four out of five stars, under side crash tests, it scored five stars while in rollover tests, and it scored four out of five stars. In addition, the 2014 Honda Civic Model received a Top Safety Pick Award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
#2 – Toyota Corolla ($17,000-$19,000)
Here is why we recommend the Toyota Corolla model.
Toyota (especially the Corolla models) have been known for one thing over the last decade.
And there is a reason.
This is why we see many cases of previous models lasting well over 200,000 miles.
One of many reasons the Toyota corolla is one of the best-selling cars in the world; the 2015 model has four trims and a total of eight standard airbags. NHTSA awarded the model an overall five stars with perfect scores on both front and side crash test and four stars on rollover test.
#1 – Chevy Sonic ($ 14,000- $ 19,000)
Here is why we recommend the Chevy Sonic model.
For less than $15k the base model will offer you a 40 miles per gallon efficiency on the highway and for $18K the turbocharged engine is available for the drivers who want to experience power on the road. The Chevy Sonic has impressive safety specifications with a five star NHTSA rating for perfect scores on front and side crash tests and a four star rating in rollover test.
For the value, this is our best option.
This is absolutely a car your child can drive that will help you sleep better at night.
5 Tips When Buying Your First Car
Regardless of which vehicle you choose, you should always be careful how you purchase. These tips will help you make the best possible decision.
Tip #1 – Do your research.
Since every dealership is different, before buying the car research at least 5 locations to get the best offer. Ensure you compare prices, dealer locations and what they are offering.
Some may offer trade in value or have specific deals that vary from location to location.
You should also look at the car’s potential resale value. We recommend going to http://www.kbb.com to see how the model is currently depreciating and compare it to previous similar models.
Also, if the vehicle is used, reviewing the car fax report is a must.
Tip #2 – Take a test drive
This may sound like common sense, but too many people skip this phase of car purchasing when they focus on brand and price.
Every car has a different feel to it. Make sure that you are comfortable with the steering, acceleration, and overall performance before making your decision.
Tip #3 – Talk to a financial expert
We recommend consulting with a financial expert before making a vehicle choice.
Understanding the financial burden moving forward will help you select the best option. Also, we have found many accidents have found financial stress to be a cause of many types of accidents from road rage to overall distraction.
Tip #4 – Ensure that your car is always checked and serviced by a professional.
Notice that we said a professional, not a close friend.
When purchasing a used car, have a service professional take a look at the vehicle.
Although we recommend a full inspection, an easy check-up can save you thousands of dollars down the road.
Tip #5 – Avoid Craigslist.
Although Craigslist has been a big name for purchasing cheap items for many individuals, we strongly recommend avoiding it (if possible).
We have found over 30% of vehicles purchased on Craigslist have had issues and those issues are directly passed on to new owner.
Many cases have found vehicles to have been stolen. If you absolutely must use a service like Craigslist, get the car inspected or look to purchase from a friend or family that you have seen the life and treatment of the vehicle.
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