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Most of the discussion surrounding best first cars typically focuses on young drivers, and economy-minded models. In reality, a lot of people buy their first cars later on in life, and at different stages of their respective driving needs - whether they are adding a second car to the household due to a growing family, whether they need to buy a vehicle for a new business venture, or whether they are finally in a financial position to pick up something of their very own.
With that in mind, we've put together a list of 10 of the best first cars that are still affordable, but which are aimed more specifically at a certain type of driver.
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Best First Cars - 01 - For The Do-It-Yourself'er - 2013 Toyota Tacoma
The 2013 Toyota Tacoma is a versatile mid-size truck that is the perfect partner-in-crime for anyone who finds themselves making frequent trips to Home Depot to pick up building supplies or a set of cabinets, or someone who needs to haul a load of gravel from point A to point B with a minimum of fuss. The Toyota Tacoma's three different body styles (including two four-door editions) and range of bed lengths allows for buyers to choose the exact size of truck that is right for their needs. Its inexpensive entry-level price and fuel-efficient four-cylinder base engine (a 2.7-liter unit that generates 159 horses and offers up 21-mpg city and 25-mpg highway) are also budget-friendly to those seeking a first car.
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Best First Cars - 02 - For The Outdoor Sports Fan - 2013 Ford Flex
The 2013 Ford Flex has been re-engineered for the current model year, and it offers outdoor sports lovers an alternative to traditional SUVs thanks to its generous interior volume and squared-off design. Inside the Ford Flex one will find seating for up to seven passengers, but with the rear rows out of the picture the full-size crossover brings a hefty 83 cubic feet of cargo space to the table. The vehicle's long, flat roof is also perfect for hauling kayaks, cycles, or skis and snowboards. Under the hood, the Flex provides the choice between a pair of V-6 engines, with the mighty EcoBoost model delivering a whopping 355 turbocharged horsepower while still offering 21-mpg on the highway. All-wheel drive is also available with the Ford to make trips into snow country that much easier.
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Best First Cars - 03 - For The College Student - 2013 Scion xB
The 2013 Scion xB is a bit quirky-looking, what with its rectangular shape, but those unique dimensions make it very useful for college students looking for a first car that is as practical as it is affordable. The Scion xB's budget-friendly price is backed up by 70 cubic feet of total interior space, which is more than enough for moving from one dorm to another, or for carting home that sweet couch sitting out on the curb. The xB's 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine's frugal fuel economy is listed at 22-mpg city and 28-mpg highway, which means it won't cost much to run, and it still offers 158 horsepower.
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Best First Cars - 04 - For The Commuter - 2013 Honda Civic
The 2013 Honda Civic benefits from a rapid redesign that corrects a host of issues that made last year's all-new model not quite as competitive as it might have been in the compact segment. It's now much more easy to recommend the inexpensive Honda Civic as an efficient commuter car, one that comes in both coupe and sedan editions. A no-frills Civic comes in at under $20,000, and its 140 horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine is rated at an impressive 28-mpg in stop and go driving and 39-mpg on the highway - which means fewer stops at the fuel pump on the way to and from work.
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Best First Cars - 05 - For The Eco Warrior - 2013 Toyota Prius
The 2013 Toyota Prius remains one of the more practical of the affordable hybrid options out there. The Toyota Prius is the perfect 'starter hybrid' for first time buyers because there really aren't any 'gotchas' associated with the model - you can just get in and drive it like a normal car, with roomy seating for up to four adults and a decent-sized cargo area, and you can do it for less than $25k. The 134 horsepower gasoline / electric drivetrain in the Prius is a top contender when it comes to fuel mileage performance as it provides a startling 51-mpg around town and 48-mpg on the highway.
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Best First Cars - 06 - For The MotoCrosser - 2013 Ram 1500 Regular Cab
The 2013 RAM 1500 delivers a substantial amount of value for under $25,000. For anyone who needs to be able to get their motocross bikes, snowmobile, or ATV to the edge of the trail without any hassle, a regular cab version of the lauded Ram 1500 is an inexpensive and comfortable way to get that done. An eight-foot cargo bed is available to make sure you have enough space to handle your machinery, and with a new 3.6-liter V-6 engine under the hood - one that is good for 305 horsepower - the Ram 1500 has more than enough get-up-and-go, even while fully loaded. An advanced eight-speed automatic helps to free up a few more miles per gallon from the six-cylinder mill, which delivers 17-mpg city and 25-mpg highway in two-wheel drive trim.
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Best First Cars - 07 - For The Enthusiast - 2013 Subaru BRZ
Buying that first sports car is never an easy choice, but the introduction of the 2013 Subaru BRZ has provided driving enthusiasts with a performance-oriented option that won't break the bank. Although the Subaru BRZ's 200 horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine isn't the most powerful motor on the block, the vehicle's supple, rear-wheel drive chassis, standard six-speed manual transmission, and lightweight design transform the BRZ into a delight to snake through the curves. Better yet, the BRZ's price tag, even when well-equipped, is still much more reasonable than one might expect, making it the best first car for someone looking to learn how to drive on the track.
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Best First Cars - 08 - For The Family Chauffeur - 2012 Kia Sedona
The 2012 Kia Sedona makes no bones about the fact that it's a value-focused family hauler. With seating for seven, and 142 cubic feet of total internal cargo space, the Kia Sedona is very much a contender in the minivan sweepstakes. Priced less than $25,000 - yet still competitively equipped in entry-level trim - the Sedona is appealing to families who need to haul everyone around at once, but who don't want to spend big money on a premium van. The Kia's 271 horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 delivers 25-mpg during highway driving, and even the base model Sedona can be equipped with a DVD player for entertaining rear seat passengers on longer trips.
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Best First Cars - 09 - For The Jack-Of-All-Trades - 2013 Subaru Forester
The 2013 Subaru Forester is a crossover SUV that fits into several categories at once - which makes it one of the best first cars for versatile individuals who find themselves pulled in several different directions during the course of a normal week. Heading out to the lake to camp for the weekend is a cinch with the Subaru Forester's 68.3 cubic feet of cargo space on hand (not to mention its tall ground clearance). Winter fun is also in the cards due to standard all-wheel drive, and the comfortable second-row seating in the Forester makes it a viable long-haul option as well. Performance fans can also opt for the 224 horsepower turbocharged version of the Subaru's 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine, but even its 170 horsepower, 2.5-liter naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine is a solid performer.
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Best First Cars - 10 - For The Style-Maven - 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo
Standing out in a crowd isn't a tall order for first car shoppers when the 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo is in the mix. Especially when ordered in its show-stopping matte grey paint, the Hyundai Veloster Turbo's alluring mix of sharp angles, daring curves, and unusual three-door design make it impossible to miss whether parked or in motion. 'In motion' is most likely how the Veloster Turbo owner will spend most of their time, given its 201 horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder engine that can also crank out 195 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission does the best job of sending this output to the hatchback's front wheels.
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