Looking for the Best Used Car for a First-Time Driver? Consider These 10 Vehicles

Parents shopping for an appropriate used car for the new driver in their household have a lot of factors to weigh. Safety is pretty much always top of the list, but also keep in mind drivability, durability and reliability, plus mileage.

While new cars are certainly appealing, first-time drivers are usually better off with used or certified pre-owned vehicles for numerous reasons. If you’re a parent trying to teach your son or daughter responsibility by getting them to pay for their own vehicle, a used car is more realistic. Also keep in mind the degree to which your average teenager cares about cleanliness and upkeep. It’s much easier to accept a trashed interior when it’s already old and less than pristine.

Choosing the right pre-owned car now also gives young drivers the opportunity to save up and get a fancier, newer car somewhere down the road.

When looking for used cars in La Quinta, consider the following 10 models.



10. Nissan Frontier

You might not think about a pickup truck being ideal for a first-time driver, but the Frontier features a solidly built design that can handle lots of abuse on the inside and outside. The Frontier gets decent gas mileage for a truck at 19 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. For those first-time drivers who are stuck on getting a truck, the Nissan Frontier is the perfect choice.

9. Kia Soul

The Kia Soul is a different breed and is known for its high level of utility. The second generation of this subcompact crossover SUV became available in 2014 and young drivers can enjoy its functionality, safety and individuality. The Soul is also affordable for young hipsters wanting something a bit different.

8. Ford Focus

The compact Ford Focus is a popular car for first-time drivers due to its better than average reliability. The third generation became available in 2010 and more than 200,000 of these cars have been sold each year since 2012. First-time drivers who don’t want an unnecessarily large vehicle can consider a Focus.

7. Nissan Cube

The Nissan Cube is a mini multi-purpose vehicle which was sold exclusively in Japan from 1998 to 2008. During that time the affordable Cube became very popular with younger Japanese drivers, and since 2009 it has become popular for first-time drivers in America thanks to its generous passenger and cargo space.

6. Mazda 3

The Mazda 3 sedan is a popular and well-liked compact car that is also affordable for first-time drivers. It is one of the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid cars available on the market and is praised for its precise and responsive handling and firm, comfortable ride.

5. Honda CR-V

The Honda CR-V is one of the bestselling mini-SUVs in the world and is known for its economy, utility and reliability which makes it great for first-time drivers. The CR-V stands the test of time and retains its value well. It has also received IIHS Top Safety Pick awards, which should be comforting for parents of young drivers.

4. Nissan Altima

The mid-size Nissan Altima has been on the market since 1992 and is still available for good reason. The Altima is very reliable and can keep going and going if well maintained. The Altima is also affordable and gets good gas mileage at 23 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway, making it an ideal car for first-time drivers who may struggle with stretching their gas money.

3. Honda Civic

The Honda Civic is one of the most popular cars in the world, which means it’s easy to find spare parts and repairs are often cheap. The Civic is great for first-time drivers thanks to its affordability and lower operating costs, as well as its tremendous resale value. This car can easily go for 250,000 miles if properly maintained.

2. Nissan Xterra

The Nissan Xterra is the ideal SUV for first-time drivers with an active outdoor lifestyle. The Xterra did not change much from 1999 to 2015. Even though it is no longer being produced, this SUV is a great used vehicle for young drivers, and has won many awards in addition to receiving the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s highest Side-Impact Safety Rating in 2010.

1. Nissan Versa Note

Nissan’s Versa Note, or simply the Note, is an affordable mini multi-purpose vehicle which features plenty of head and leg room for growing teenagers getting behind the wheel for the first time. The Note features a functional hatchback along with a Divide-n-Hide cargo management system which makes it great for lugging around sports or musical equipment. The Note also has an EPA rating of up to 40 mpg which means first-time drivers won’t need to break the bank to keep it fueled up.


Find Your First-Time Driver’s Used Car Today!


Torre Nissan has a wide selection of pre-owned inventory including Cubes, Frontiers, Altimas, Xterras and Versa Notes. We offer new, used and certified pre-owned vehicles and also offer parts, financing and service. Check out our inventory on our website or come on down to Torre Nissan today to find the perfect vehicle for you or the first-time driver in your family.


Torre Nissan 

79125 Highway 111 

La Quinta CA 92253

Sales (888)603-0231
Service & Parts (888)409-3088


Sales & Leasing Hours
Monday 9:00AM - 9:00PM
Tuesday 9:00AM - 9:00PM 
Wednesday 9:00AM - 9:00PM
Thursday 9:00AM - 9:00PM
Friday 9:00AM - 9:00PM
Saturday 9:00AM - 9:00PM 
Sunday 10:00AM - 8:00PM