I'm about to start driving, and I was thinking about what kind of car to get for a while.
My friend has an '01 VW Jetta for $3200, and it is a good price, but I don't know the condition of the car or how good it is on gas. I don't want to buy a cheap car and end up having it fall apart on me, and I don't want to be spending a fortune on gas.
My mother thinks it would be a good idea for me to get a car with 4 wheel drive, and I don't blame her because we live in New England and get a lot of snow. I think the Subaru Impreza WRX is my top choice if I were to get a 4WD car, but I don't know the gas mileage, or how expensive they can be.
I like the Toyota Prius as well, because it has amazing gas mileage (46 MPG!!). Yet, since they are such good cars, they can be expensive. They are only 2WD, though, like the Jetta.
Any suggestions for first cars? What was yours?
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Just an fyi, because the Prius is built entirely in Japan, the car is more expensive than if you bought a new Ford Focus. Because you are paying for the transportation to the US, the fuel spent with that, and to have a foreign car. With that in mind, to make the Prius cost efficient, you'd have to drive it for 30,000 miles to make it even with the cost of the Ford Focus. Keep that in mind. It may be efficient to drive, but in the end, you'll be paying more.
If you are looking at a Jetta for being in New England, I can tell you now you'd not be sitting so well in the winter. Around here the snow hit last year, and a Jetta in front of me on a hill, starting sliding backwards towards me, because it didn't have the horse power to keep going up the hill, and another time I passed one sitting in a ditch after sliding out of control on a flat icy road.
And with that, I'd suggest a Ford Focus, Ford Taurus, Chevy Cruze(it gets 34-38 mpg and up to 42 hwy mpg), or Chevy Cavalier. They mostly all are 2WD but they are reliable and efficient and safe cars.
First off, let me say this, I live in Colorado, right next to the Rocky Mountains, so I know all about heavy snow and winter driving. I have a 2002 Ford Taurus, it has a 5 star crash safety rating, and I wouldn't trade it for the world. It gets 22-24mpg(26-28 hwy mpg), handles snow, torrential rain, and other weather wonderfully(If the weather gets terrible, I just throw studded tires on for the winter, it helps add a lot of traction). I've had mine for a month and have put over 500 miles on it since then, only used maybe 4 tanks of gas if that. I also got it used for 6k.
Don't look ONLY for fuel efficiency when getting a first car. It's better to be safe and reliable than anything else. Remember, new drivers have more expensive insurance, and if you get a new car on top of that(foreign car's make your insurance higher than american cars too), it costs easily twice what you could be paying if you went used, and an older car that is more reliable.
Personally I would not recommend a 4 wheel drive vehicle for a beginning driver. It's one thing to learn how to handle a car in slippery road conditions, or in snow. It's completely another to learn how to handle a car in those conditions with 4 wheel drive. besides that, it teaches you the false pretense of knowing how to handle the weather because you're relying on the 4 wheel drive, and doesn't give you the experience of handling it yourself. Also, 4wd takes a toll on your gas mileage, once you have a 4wd vehicle, expect it to drop at least somewhat than the 2wd version(if there is such of the car you are looking at).
Remember, you can always get your car you have your eyes on, later in life.