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Newbie Alert: 7 Best Cars for New Drivers

From compact sedans to a pickup, here are some of the top vehicles for operators just getting behind the wheel

Gray Mazda car driving down a road

New drivers, whether they are excited teenagers or folks getting behind the wheel later in life, often look for different features in a car than more seasoned drivers. Whether you’re focused on a low price, a passel of tech features or a top-of-class safety rating, CAA has you covered with our seven picks of the best vehicles for new drivers.

Cheap and Cheerful: The Chevrolet Spark LS Manual

This diminutive little hatchback from The General packs a lot of tech into its five-door frame. Not only are Apple CarPlay, touchscreen infotainment and a backup camera included, the price slides in just under $10,000.

Blue Chevrolet Spark parked next to a cute restaurant patio 

Entry-Level Luxe: The Hyundai Elantra L

Slick, stylish, and only $2,000 more than its little brother, the Accent, the base-model Elantra is more spacious than many other cars offered for $15,999. Features such as heated seats will keep new drivers comfy, while a raft of airbags—including one for the driver’s knees—will keep them safe. Bonus: this four-door sedan was designated a top safety pick in its class by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Silver Hyundai Elantra parked outside on gray interlocking brick 

Hot Stuff: The Mazda3 GX

At $17,730, the littlest Mazda is slightly more expensive than the similarly sized Elantra, but the 3 has a phenomenally crafted interior featuring a gorgeous design and an infotainment system standing atop the dash like an expensive tablet. Strip off the Mazda badge, and your friends may think you’re driving an Audi.

Dark gray Mazda3 GX parked in industrial setting 

Practical Pickup: The Nissan Frontier King Cab S 4x2

A truck? For new drivers? Absolutely. Not all new drivers live in urban areas, and many could certainly use the utility afforded by this small pickup. Its efficient four-cylinder engine is mated to a friendly five-speed automatic, and its interior features a USB port and Bluetooth—all for an agreeable $23,648.

Red truck taking a powerful turn in the desert sand leaving dust in its wake 

Efficiency Unit: The Toyota Prius c

The smallest Prius is priced at only $21,990, but includes air conditioning, half a dozen airbags and a backup camera. A slippery shape and hybrid powertrain produce great fuel economy, with available EV and ECO modes helping to save even more fuel. Plus, attractive colours like Absolutely Red and Blue Streak are no-charge options.

Bright red Toyota Prius driving down a road 

Quirky but Safe: The Subaru Impreza Sport

The priciest car on our list, this $28,095 hatchback is another IIHS Top Safety pick, with a five-star crash rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Impreza’s EyeSight package, offering pre-collision braking and a lane-departure warning system, gives this Subaru its high safety rankings. All-wheel drive means sure-footed traction, and the hatchback body style provides plenty of useful storage space.

Silver Subaru Impreza Sport drives down a suburban road with grass on either side of it 

Life of the Party: The Mini Cooper 3-door

This little punk is fun and funky-looking—and starts at $22,190. Its sightlines are superb, offering great visibility for new drivers, as the expansive glass acts like an upside-down fishbowl. The Mini catalogue offers a near-endless amount of customization, colour and accessory choices right from the factory, so new drivers can spec their new Cooper to truly stand out on campus.

Navy Mini Cooper 3-door driving up a cute street 

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