December 1, 2020


While most people start learning how to drive with a hand-me-down car from parents or relatives, there comes a time when they want to get their first new car. With hundreds of models to choose from, narrowing it down to just one can seem overwhelming.

To help them start, Edmunds’ experts compiled a list of four new vehicles that excel in the areas first-time owners would be wise to prioritize. These include a low starting price and high safety scores. Specifically, each model earns a Top Safety Pick recommendation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. These are also vehicles that Edmunds has tested and consider to be among the best in their respective classes. All listed prices include destination and handling charges.


Saying a car looks like a box on wheels would not normally be a compliment. But in the case of the Kia Soul, it somehow works. This small SUV has a distinctive upright profile that stands out compared to more traditionally styled rivals. Kia also offers the Soul in different looks; GT-Line and Turbo trim levels offer red exterior accents and a mesh grille for a sporty theme, while the X-Line has gray fender cladding for more of an off-road vibe.

The Soul is easy to get in and out of and has plenty of room for passengers. The Soul also comes with a pleasing number of features for the money. For example, every Soul except the base LX comes with advanced driver safety aids that can help reduce driver distraction and mitigate imminent collisions. Another bonus is Kia’s excellent five-year limited warranty. Negatives are few but include a bit too much wind and road noise on the highway. Our pick: Soul S, $21,710


Small but fun, the Hyundai Veloster is a unique pick because of its three-door layout. It has a single door on its driver’s side and two doors on its passenger side. This configuration creates a sporty, coupe-like appearance with the added benefit of an extra rear door to make it easier for rear passengers to get in and out. The Veloster is also a hatchback, which makes it easier to load luggage and cargo than in a sedan.

The Veloster’s standard 147-horsepower engine is fine, but consider getting the available turbocharged engine. It makes a stout 201 horsepower and gives the Veloster quick acceleration. The extra power is also a pleasing complement to the Veloster’s sharp handling. Just like Kia, Hyundai offers a five-year limited warranty. On the downside, the Veloster’s ride quality is a little stiff, and the cabin can get noisy at highway speeds, especially when the car is equipped with high-performance tires. Our pick: Veloster Turbo R-Spec, $24,445


Few vehicles get closer to “no-brainer” pick status than the Accord. It’s consistently one of the top-selling cars in America, and the latest-generation Accord is one of Edmunds’ favorite midsize sedans. It’s roomy, upscale