First-time buyers reveal their favorite 2017 cars – Boston Herald

Even if a driver’s first car was a red 1966 Chevrolet Impala station wagon, that vehicle is usually remembered fondly.

But a survey just released by Cambridge-based automotive consumer website CarGurus.com shows that the experience of a driver’s first car is changing in big ways.

Only a little more than a third of new drivers — 37 percent — contribute to the cost of their car. Among so-called ‘millennials,’ their first cars were provided by a family member, and meant to fulfill responsibilities such as going to work or school. For those reasons, these first-time drivers didn’t have much say in what their car would be.

Older drivers — ‘Baby Boomers’ — had a very different experience with their first cars. Instead of getting “hand-me-down” cars, 76 percent of the time they were able to choose their car, usually a used vehicle priced under $10,000. And about two-thirds of the time, these new owners paid for some or all of the car.

Some young people aren’t even in the game: More teens are delaying learning to drive, riding bicycles or taking public transportation.

“Our data shows a clear generational shift in the dynamics of first car purchase,” said Sarah Welch, SVP of Consumer Marketing. “Given the rise of autonomous vehicles, ride-sharing and sweeping urbanization, it will be interesting to see if future generations show the same trend in parents controlling the first car purchase or if we’ll see a drop-off in dependents needing a car at a younger age.”

But one thing was common across all groups surveyed: 83 percent of first cars were used vehicles.

One other interesting tidbit from the CarGurus data: 55 percent of drivers got their first car between the ages of 16 and 18.

The survey of more than 1,800 randomly selected car owners age 18-70 was conducted in April.

The National Automobile Dealers Association reports that the average used car price is now approaching $20,000. It’s possible to get a new car for way less.

So, first-time buyers who want the factory warranty benefits, credit-building and full-on dealership experience can choose from these 10 lowest-priced 2017 models:

10. Chevrolet Sonic LS Sedan ($16,020)

The only car with an MSRP above $16,000 on this list, the Sonic is a charming sprite that gets 36 mpg (which it needs, with a 12-gallon fuel tank). Standard equipment includes air conditioning, a 7-inch touch screen, keyless entry and Wi-Fi connectivity.

9. Fiat 500 Pop ($15,990)

It has that spicy Italian styling, but it’s oh so small. The 101-hp four-cylinder engine is equally puny, though reviewers say it can be fun to drive.

8. Hyundai Accent SE ($15,580)

A lot of the cars on this list have standard transmissions. These actually can improve gas mileage, but beyond that they’re a lot of fun to drive. The Accent doesn’t have much of a styling accent, but its 137-hp engine with a six-speed manual transmission earns kudos for providing a driving … accent.

7. Smart Fortwo ($15,400)

A Smart Fortwo makes a lot more sense in dense urban areas like the Hub or New York than in sprawls like Los Angeles. For one thing, with parking a bloodsport, the Fortwo can sometimes be backed into a spot. It’s less than 9 feet long and could almost be parked next to your bed. (Try forgetting that visual). It’s only suitable for singles or frugal couples who aren’t in a hurry (The Fortwo is ‘powered’ by an inline 3 that cranks out 89 hp.)

6. Nissan Versa Note ($15,095)

Well, it’s affordable. And it doesn’t cost much. The Note is aggressively styled, even though its performance makes that feature a little aspirational.

5. Kia Rio Sedan ($15,015)

The cars on this list are new, but low-cost cars don’t have the traits that their expensive brethren do. That means fewer standard amenities, standard transmissions and four cylinders or less under the hood. For buyers who crave at least a hint of performance capabilities, the Rio’s 138-hp 1.6-liter four is the answer. But there’s always trade-offs with low-cost cars. This Rio doesn’t have power windows or door locks.

4. Ford Fiesta S Sedan ($15,005)

Ford’s truck sales have carried the manufacturer for years, but success in the car market has spiked with the Fusion, the Focus and the Fiesta— awfully alliterative aren’t they? The Fiesta has a spritz of performance (120 hp) but most solace comes in that low monthly payment.

3. Chevrolet Spark ($13,875)

You get what you pay for, except in the Spark, you get a rearview camera, 10 airbags, a 7.0-inch touch screen interface for the radio and standard in-car Wi-Fi.

2. Mitsubishi Mirage ES ($13,830)

The Mirage has an amazing entry price, freshened styling, a 10-year, 100,000-mile warranty and gets up to 42 mpg. That mpg achievement is acquired because the Mirage has only 78 hp. It may be faster to run to work.

1. Nissan Versa S ($12,855)

The Versa S gets savaged in reviews for its low power (109 hp — far from the lowest on the list) and lack of amenities.

HELLO? IT’S $12,855. Anyone shopping this car is doing it for a reason, and that reason isn’t because they just want to spend this little on a new car.

 

 

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