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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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

Volkswagen hasn't fully revealed the ID.4, but here is the model in the concept form.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Following Ford and Tesla's model for vehicle reservations, Volkswagen will allow customers to put a $100 deposit down on its ID.4 electric vehicle shortly after its reveal next month. The deposit is refundable.

The model's debut is set for September 23 at 11 a.m. EDT. Reservations will be available immediately following.

The reservation is possible thanks to Volkswagen's new online shopping platform. The new way to buy is designed to help customers avoid the hassles of the dealership experience - something that is a common pain point in customer experience surveys industrywide. The platform also includes shopping tools such as a range estimator, payment tool and dealer selection to assist shoppers with finding an ID.4 model and making the transition to EV ownership.

Volkswagen ID.4 concept The Volkswagen ID.4 concept vehicle reveals a crossover with a low coefficient of drag, helping it slip through the air with ease, making it more fuel efficient.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Users start by building their preferred vehicle. Then, they secure their place on one with a $100 reservation payment.

Once vehicle production starts, those with reservations will be invited to lock in their configuration and confirm their order with an additional $400 deposit. The online ordering system will allow buyers to track their vehicle from production to delivery and let them know when to expect their new ID.4 to arrive at their preferred dealer.

Once the vehicle arrives at the dealership, buyers can interact directly with them to arrange for delivery.

The ID.4 will be produced at Volkswagen's Chattanooga, Tennessee plant, which is being modified to fulfill the task. It will be sold in all 50 U.S. states.

Volkswagen plans to sell 26 million electric vehicles globally by 2029.

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Nissan is offering helpful hints for keeping your dog safe in your car.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Whether you're hitting the road to head to grandma's house or just popping by the V-E-T, it's important that man's best friend rides safely in your automobile.

Since the pandemic took hold, there has been a large rise in pet adoptions. According to Rover.com, more than 60 percent of those have been done by people who have little or no previous pet experience.

The American Automobile Association recently reported that 84 percent of Americans have driven with their pet in the car, yet only 16 percent use any form of restraint. In the same study, one in six admitted to driving with a dog on their lap.

dog car safety nissan Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

In a recent study, Nissan found that, due to COVID-19, 71 percent of consumers are more comfortable traveling by car than airplane this summer.

That's a lot of numbers that could all amount to one thing - a disaster. That is, unless you follow some rules that will help ensure that your dog is safe in your car.

Rule 1: Buckle up

dog car safety nissan

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

It isn't just humans that need to be buckled in the car. Nissan offers some great advice for owners regarding securing a dog in a car:

'"One recommended way to secure a pet is to use a chest-style harness in the rear seating position. Run a seat belt through a loop on the back of the pet harness, or under the back or the harness itself. Always consult the pet harness information manual for instruction on proper vehicle use. This is an excellent solution to ensure that medium- to large-size dogs stay seated during a trip.

"Another option is using a pet restraint tether, often referred to as a pet seat belt. This type of restraint offers an inexpensive and quick solution for securing pets. As the name implies, this restraint clips to the pet's collar or harness and is often affixed to your vehicle by either clipping into the seatbelt buckle or child-seat anchor to help keep your dog from moving around the vehicle.

"Utilizing a secured pet carrier or kennel is another way to travel safely with pets. Smaller dogs can be housed in portable-style carrier that can be secured in the vehicle's second row using seat belts or pillows to help limit movement. Smaller carriers can also be placed on the floor behind one of the front seats. Medium and large-sized pets should be placed in a sturdier kennel secured to the vehicle cargo area in SUVs or trucks. In either instance, the kennel should be fastened to the vehicle as securely as possible."

Rule 2: Set boundaries

dog car safety nissan

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

According to Nissan, "Cargo area dividers can be used to help keep pets behind the last row of an SUV. These are a great way to keep large dogs out of the occupant space when traveling. It's best to still secure the pet in the cargo area."

Rule 3: Adjust climate control accordingly

How hot is it in the cargo area versus the driver's seat? Second row? Is the sun pouring in through the sunroof on your dog but they don't have vents to aim at them to keep cool? It's important to monitor the changing heating and cooling situation where your precious cargo is seated to ensure that they're safe.

Rule 4: Never leave pets in the car on a hot day

According to an expert with Nissan, cracking the windows of a car has a negligible effect on keeping down the temperature inside a car on a hot day. Don't leave your kids or your dog in a hot car.

Rule 5: In the event of a crash, secure your pet as quickly as possible

It's important to make sure that you and any others involved in a crash are safe and administer any first aid while complying with commands given by first responders. To that end, you'll need to secure your dog while giving them a thorough once-over for injuries.

Keep in mind that your dog may be frightened, especially of strangers - they don't understand that first responders are there to help them too. You may not be able to completely calm them, but you can take steps like using soothing tones, petting them, and holding them close.

How to secure your pet in the car

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Rule 6: Bring water along on trips

Sure, the more water you give your dog, the more often they're going to need to go out, but you don't want to starve them of water for the sake of a quieter road trip. Bring fresh water with you, Many vehicles, like the 2021 Nissan Rogue, have cutouts in the rear cargo area where you can store a gallon of fresh water.

dog car safety nissan

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Rule 7: Get out and stretch

It's not just humans that need a pit stop during a road trip. Pets need to get out and utilize green space, whether it's to use the bathroom, get some energy out, or just enjoy not being cooped up. Once they do, they're likely to be less restless in their crate or seat, allowing for more safe travel. Build in stops to your itinerary taking advantages of towns with dog parks or public green spaces.

dog car safety nissan

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Rule 8: Practice makes perfect

Not every dog likes going for a ride. It will help them (and you) to break up the routine. Don't always follow the same pattern to get them ready for the ride. Get them used to being in the car by sitting in your driveway with the engine running before you take off. Once they're used to being in a car, get them used to being in there with a tether on or in their crate.

You can get your pup used to wearing a harness by putting it on them for a period of time at home, even when you have no plans to go anywhere.

Train them to be tolerant of the moving vehicle by taking them for short training rides. Slowly build up your time in the car with them.

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