The 8 Best Cars for New Drivers in 2022

What is the best car for a new driver? Many may think that the safest car for a first-time driver is something big and bulky, like a minivan or a solid SUV. But, compact cars and crossovers can be much easier, and safer, for a new driver to handle. Parking and navigating traffic is more manageable, and newer drivers won’t get sticker shock from expensive fill-ups at the gas station.

For the best intro cars for new drivers—or any drivers who want something small, easy to drive, safe, and affordable—check out the eight best cars for new drivers below.

8: 2022 Toyota Corolla Hatchback

  • Starting at $20,915
  • MPG: Up to 32 city / 41 highway
  • 5-Star overall NHTSA safety rating

The Corolla Hatchback combines reliable safety and a strong reputation with an affordable starting price and a nice dash of cool factor. For shoppers looking for the best used car for new drivers, look no further than a low-mileage Corolla, either sedan or hatchback style.

Blue 2022 Toyota Corolla Hatchback in motion, driving down a highway
2022 Toyota Corolla Hatchback | Toyota

RELATED: 2019 Toyota Corolla: How to Choose the Best Used Corolla Model For Your Daily Driving Needs

7: 2019 Ford Fiesta

  • Started around $15,000 when new 
  • MPG: Up to 27 city / 37 highway
  • 4-Star overall NHTSA safety rating (2019 MY)

When the Ford Fiesta was new, it was easily one of the best affordable cars for new drivers. The Fiesta has unfortunately been retired since 2019, but you can still find a few of these great compact cars on dealer lots or through personal sales. The Fiesta was available as both a sedan and a hatchback.

6: 2022 Volkswagen Jetta

  • Starting at $20,195
  • MPG: Up to 31 city / 41 highway
  • 5-Star overall NHTSA safety rating

The handsome VW Jetta is one of the best cars for young adults. It has a professional look and feel, so it can mature with a first-time driver as they move through life. A bonus, the Jetta looks great pulling in for a first job interview.

RELATED: Consumer Reports Recommends These Competent Compact Sedans Over the Honda Civic and Mazda3

5: 2020 Toyota Yaris

  • Started at $17,750 when new
  • MPG: Up to 32 city / 40 highway
  • 5-Star overall NHTSA safety rating (2020 MY)

The Toyota Yaris is another great compact car that was taken from us too soon. The Yaris was discontinued after the 2020 model-year, but it was a top affordable choice for new drivers in its heyday.

4: 2022 Subaru Legacy

  • $22,995
  • MPG: Up to 27 city / 35 highway
  • 5-Star overall NHTSA safety rating

The aptly-named Legacy is another top choice of cars for new drivers. It offers standard all-wheel drive, ample leg room, and smart standard safety. The Subaru Legacy can be bought new or pre-owned, and it’s a great used-car option for teen drivers.

Front angle view of the 2022 Subaru Legacy in dark blue, one of the best cars for new drivers, shown driving on a cobblestone street in a city
2022 Subaru Legacy | Subaru

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3: 2022 Mazda CX-30

  • Starting at $22,200
  • MPG: Up to 24 city / 31 highway
  • 5-Star overall NHTSA safety rating

The Mazda CX-30 is a relative newcomer to the segment, but it’s already making a solid case as a good first car for teens. The CX30’s 5-star safety rating and large cargo area offer peace of mind and versatility.

2: 2022 Honda Civic

  • Starting at $22,350
  • MPG: Up to 33 city / 42 highway
  • 5-Star overall NHTSA safety rating

What really needs to be said about the Honda Civic? This sedan offers equal amounts of practicality and fun, making it one of the best cars for new drivers. The Civic is a surefire winner. Over 40 MPG on the highway doesn’t hurt, either. 

RELATED: Is Honda Bringing Back the Civic Hybrid for 2022?

1: 2022 Mini Cooper

  • Starting at $22,900
  • MPG: Up to 29 city / 38 highway
  • 4-Star overall NHTSA safety rating

A Mini Cooper would be a dream first car for a 16-year-old (even a really tall teen can drive a Mini, believe it or not), but its reputation as an expensive compact car shouldn’t keep it off this list. The Cooper has a lot to offer.

Two additional cars on Hot Cars’ list were the Volkswagen Polo and the Ford Puma—both cool, compact hatchback cars that could be an excellent choice for the new driver. However, both of these cars are not yet offered in the U.S. 

RELATED: Why Is the Mini Cooper So Expensive for a Subcompact Car?