Buying Advice

AutomotiveMap Picks: Best New Vehicles for New Drivers

The Toyota Corolla is a valiant pick for new drivers because of its standard safety equipment and low price tag.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

When many of us were young, it was common to have our first cars be whatever Grandma didn't need anymore or whichever the most beat up model in the driveway was. Those days are quickly coming to an end as parents are eager to give their teenagers access to the latest safety technology, which means buying a new vehicle.

However, new cars are expensive. The best cars for new drivers offer a value proposition for the buyer as well as a long list of standard and available safety technology. The ones on the list are the favorites of AutomotiveMap's writers.

​2020 Kia Rio

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Jesus Garcia: A starting price well under 20k, the Kia Rio is a little car with big character. Parents should know that this car was recently named an IIHS Top Safety Pick, with high praises for its front crash avoidance technology.

​2020 Hyundai Kona

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Sue Mead: The 2020 Hyundai Kona has a high-tech image both outside and in. Its user-friendly features and available premium audio make it equally as attractive as its tidy dimensions for easy maneuvering. The Kona can hold up to five. It comes in four front-wheel drive trim levels in addition to all-wheel drive with a locking differential. Remote keyless entry with alarm, a rearview camera, and parking guidelines are also highlights.

Nicole Wakelin: This subcompact SUV has versatility for cargo for those moves back and forth to college. It's also affordable and has earned top marks for safety.

2020 Toyota Corolla Hatchback

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

Harvey Briggs: It's not the fastest or most fun hatch on the road, but it does come with a manual transmission (which I believe everyone should know how to drive) and Toyota's Safety Sense. Compact so its easy to maneuver and park. And it's a Toyota so you know your new driver won't be left stranded somewhere.

2020 Nissan Versa

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Perry Stern, AutoNXT: The new 2020 Nissan Versa delivers fuel-efficient powertrain, roomy interior, the latest in safety technology and a low starting price – a great option for the new driver.

2020 Hyundai Venue

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Eileen Falkenberg-Hull - The Hyundai Venue is a bit smaller than the Kona but has similar features at a lower price. It's a pleasure to drive, easy to park, and has enough space for four adults for short trips. Hyundai wins points for making Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard on even the base model, as well as an 8-inch infotainment touch screen.

2020 Toyota Corolla

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

Chad Kirchner: The 2020 Toyota Corolla is available in either a sedan or hatchback, making it versatile, but also because Toyota includes their excellent safety suite standard on every trim.

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Larger tires headline the upgrades.

Jeep

The off-road wars are heating up. This year alone, we've seen the new Ford Bronco, Rivian's R1T electric pickup truck, new off-road models of the Ford Ranger, GMC Canyon, and Chevrolet Silverado, and more rugged versions of the Subaru Outback and Forester. Jeep, already deep in the game, doesn't need to do much to bolster its off-road offering, but the brand is doing just that for 2022. The automaker is offering a new Xtreme Recon Package for the Wrangler Willys SUV, which brings more capability and style to the boxy off-roader.

Jeep Wrangler Willys Xtreme Recon Package The package can be ordered for Wrangler Willys models later this year. Jeep Wrangler Willys Xtreme Recon Package

Beyond beefy 35-inch tires tires, the Wrangler Willys with Xtreme Recon Package gets a 1.5-inch factory lift, a 4.56:1 axle ratio, 17-inch wheels and swing gate reinforcement. Jeep says those improvements give the Willys best-in-class approach and departure angles, ground clearance, and water fording capability. Approach angle improves to 47.4 degrees, breakover angle improves to 26.7 degrees, and departure angle jumps to 40.4 degrees. The extra ride height also pushes ground clearance to 12.9 inches and the water fording depth to 33.6 inches.

The package's 35-inch tires make the Willys Jeep's third Wrangler model with hardcore rolling stock. It joins the Wrangler Rubicon and Wrangler Rubicon 392 in the 35-inch club, all of which can be equipped with the tires directly from the factory.

Jeep Wrangler Willys Xtreme Recon Package A factory lift helps improve ground clearance and capability.Jeep

The Xtreme Recon Package can be ordered starting in October and will be available for the Jeep Wrangler Willys with 3.6-liter eTorque engine. The package adds $3,995 to the Wrangler Willys' price tag, which brings the total starting price to $40,930, including a $1,495 destination charge.

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New sports sedan

2022 Infiniti Q50 gets more standard tech

The car sees new tech and interior features for 2022.

Infiniti

The Infiniti Q50 is an aging but still-stylish sedan that offers value and power, but it hasn't quite kept pace with the crop of more engaging premium European cars. However, it's still worth a look, and to press that point further, Infiniti has updated the car for 2022 with a healthy list of standard features.

2022 Infiniti Q50 Exterior styling has not changed for 2022.Infiniti

Headline updates for the 2022 Q50 are wireless Apple CarPlay and newly standard Bose Performance Series Audio. There's now leather for every trim, but in the ways that count, the car is the same as the one we saw last year, the year before, and so on.

That's not to say that the car is bad. After all, it still offers a 300-horsepower twin-turbo V6 as standard and can be upgraded with a 400-horsepower version of the engine. And, despite its aging exterior styling, it's still a handsome car with smooth, sculpted bodywork. The seven-speed automatic transmission and available all-wheel drive remain in place.

2022 Infiniti Q50 All-wheel drive is available for all models.Infiniti

Pricing for the 2022 Infiniti Q50 starts at $43,125, which includes a $1,025 destination fee. The car gets standard wireless Apple CarPlay, leather upholstery, 18-inch wheels, and Bose Performance Audio. All-wheel drive is available for a $2,000 upcharge.

2022 Infiniti Q50 Wireless Apple CarPlay and Bose audio are standard.Infiniti

The mid-range Q50 Sensory starts at $48,825, and comes with 19-inch wheels, black open-pore wood interior accents, navigation, and an air purifier system. Stepping up to the top Q50 Red Sport 400 will run $56,975, and brings the more powerful V6 engine, semi-aniline leather upholstery, and Dynamic Digital Suspension, which adjusts damping settings depending on road conditions and driving style.

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