5 awesome cars for first-time buyers

Jeep Renegade



$18,000 (Base)

Compacts and subcompact models like the Ford Fusion, Honda Civic and Chevrolet Sonic are popular choices among younger drivers. But I’d like to show you some cars that you might not have considered.

This, for instance, is the latest member of the Jeep family and it’s tons of fun. Yes, it is a Jeep, so the ride’s a little bouncy but inside, it’s comfortable, solidly built and feels bigger than it looks. Also, you can have fun finding all the hidden “Easter eggs” — like an off-road map in the storage bin liner and pictures of Jeeps hidden in various places. (Hint: Check around the edge of the windshield.)

Ford Fiesta ST



$21,000 (Base)It’s hard to find a sporty car that’s more outrageous, ridiculous, silly fun than this. At the same time, you’ll be amazed at how livable this little race car is. The ride won’t rattle your dental work loose and the engine noise doesn’t deafen you unnecessarily. But be warned — your cheeks will ache from smiling. Oh, there is one downside: All this fun is only available with a manual transmission. So if you don’t know how to drive stick, here’s a great incentive to learn.

Subaru Impreza



$18,000 (Base)Sure, you can spend more money and get Subaru’s sporty Impreza WRX or even the WRX STI. But even this regular Subaru Impreza is fun and highly functional. The fuel economy is remarkable, too, considering we’re talking about a car with full-time all-wheel-drive.

Mini Cooper 4-door



$21,700 (Base)

At a glance, the redesigned Mini Cooper doesn’t look all that different from the previous ones. Well, except for those two extra doors at the back. The new, redesigned Mini feels roomier inside — even in two-door versions — and the base model comes with a new turbocharged 3-cylinder engine that’s surprisingly peppy as well as fuel-efficient.

Certified pre-owned 2012 Audi A4



$26,000 (KBB est.)

If you have a thing for luxury cars but don’t want to spend a lot, get a pre-owned one. That way, you don’t have to settle for a new, but lesser, luxury car. For instance, instead of buying a brand new Audi A3, you could get a pre-owned Audi A4, a vastly better car. And, if it’s certified pre-owned, it also comes with a warranty. It’s the smarter play, for sure.

Don’t own, just share

140707150350-uber-nyc-620xbRide-sharing and car-sharing options like Uber and ZipCar have made owning a car truly optional, especially in big cities. Bike-sharing operations like New York City’s Citi Bike can provide an even cheaper and cleaner way to get around town. Besides all that, in most cities, there’s also the old ride-sharing program known as public transportation. That works, too.


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