8 Best Choices For a First Car

Chevrolet Malibu
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I Just Got My License. What Kind of Car Should I Buy?

Once a young adult receives a freshly minted driver’s license or college diploma, a set of car keys is often next on the agenda.

Opinions vary when it comes to deciding upon the best vehicle for a first-time driver. New or used? Big or small? Fun or reliable?

The choice should be driven by the driver’s lifestyle: city or suburbs, single or attached, budget-minded or willing to splurge? Of course, safety equipment, crash test scores, reliability ratings, and fuel-efficiency matter, too.

Read ahead for a look at the best first cars for drivers from high school age to their early 20s.

Keep in mind that U.S. News scores are updated constantly based on the latest expert reviews and data, so the scores listed in the following slides may differ slightly from those in our rankings.