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A man’s first car determines a lot about his future. It impacts his driving style, vehicle preference, automobile knowledge and many other aspects of his daily life. With that in mind, you need to find a do-it-all vehicle at a fair price that can meet all your needs and interests. So, what are the best first cars for guys?
- 2009 Hyundai Genesis
- 2010 Lexus IS 250
- 2010 Chevrolet Tahoe
- 2011 Acura TSX
- 2012 Honda Civic Si
- 2012 Volkswagen GTI
- 2012 Subaru Outback
- 2012 Toyota RAV4
- 2013 Dodge Ram 1500
- 2014 Mazda3
Let’s take a closer look.
1. 2009 Hyundai Genesis
Average price range: $5,800-6,200
Kelley Blue Book (KBB) Rating: 4.6/5
The 2009 Genesis was Hyundai’s first attempt at a luxury sedan, and although the body doesn’t compare to other sports cars of the time, the Genesis was among the best in its class and remains one of Hyundai’s most popular used car purchases. It’s a remarkably well-rounded vehicle for a sports car, with excellent safety features and a low cost of ownership.
The leather interior is spacious and comfortable, with heated seats, a solid (but not overpowering) speaker system and a Bluetooth function, which wasn’t as common back in 2009 as it is today. It also has front/rear parking sensors and a rearview camera to help you navigate tight spaces. These features are everything a guy could ask for in a starter vehicle.
2. 2010 Lexus IS 250
Average price range: $9,500-12,200
KBB Rating: 4.7/5
This luxury sedan has the look and power of a sports car, and it’s a unique starter vehicle because you can choose from two engines, depending on your transmission preference. If you prefer a manual, you have a 206-horsepower V6. For those who like the simplicity of automatic transmission, you have a 306-hp B6 with an extra boost and all-wheel drive capabilities.
Aside from the smooth ride, this car has many amenities of a luxury sedan made in 2020, let alone 2010. Climate control, unique seat-adjustment features, an advanced control panel and other modern elements highlight the interior and make this car a great choice for guys who prioritize comfort.
3. 2010 Chevrolet Tahoe
Average Price Range: $11,500-18,500
KBB Rating: 4.5/5
The Tahoe is a hefty SUV that can handle anything you throw its way. It fits eight people and can tow up to 8.500 pounds, but it’s much stronger and has better predicted reliability than other SUVs in its class. It can be your daily commute vehicle AND the car you take on adventures with your friends.
The interior has tri-zone climate control, an OnStar telematics system, heated seats and the other SUV features that we’ve come to expect. All-in-all, the Tahoe doesn’t get enough credit for its performance. It’s effectively a Cadillac Escalade, except you’re not paying an extra $15,000 for the flashy exterior and Cadillac logo.
4. 2011 Acura TSX
Average Price Range: $9,500-12,100
KBB Rating: 4.8/5
This sports car has a healthy balance of speed and mileage, making it a great choice for your first vehicle. A 280-hp V6 is the most powerful engine option that the car plenty of pep, but the 22mpg in the city and 31mpg on the highway really make it stand out. Few luxury sedans available today have that kind of mileage.
The interior has comfortable leather seating, a navigable control panel and a surprising amount of trunk space for a sports car. In fact, calling the TSX a sports car understates how well-rounded the vehicle is. It looks like any other early-2010s sedan, but the performance will exceed your expectations.
5. 2012 Honda Civic Si
Average Price Range: $6,600-12,000
KBB Rating: 4.5/5
The Honda Civic doesn’t have a positive reputation among car enthusiasts. Older models are gas guzzlers and often require frequent maintenance, but the 2012 Si is an exception to this rule for one simple reason: it only comes with a manual transmission. Manual transmissions help conserve fuel because they convert power to the front wheels and the driver can switch gears at the most opportune times. If manual is your system of choice, the Si is a great first vehicle.
It handles well in all environments, from cramped city streets to open highways. The interior fabric seating and center console have simple but functional designs. The Si won’t make you jump out of your seat, but it be a reliable vehicle for many years.
6. 2012 Volkswagen GTI
Average Price Range: $9,200-12,400
KBB Rating: 4.6/5
The GTI is a popular choice among novice car enthusiasts looking to broaden their horizons. It has the necessary power (200-hp turbo four engine) and mileage (30 mpg on highways), with the option of an automatic or manual transmission – optimal for all driving styles and conditions.
The interior looks like it belongs in a BMW or Mercedes. The design is straightforward and sleek at the same time, with quality fabric seating and a visually appealing control panel that you’ll have no trouble operating. You can also add more cargo space with the split-folding rear row and hatchback opening. The GTI is a more-than-capable sedan and a great first car for guys.
7. 2012 Subaru Outback
Average Price Range: $10,200-13,800
KBB Rating: 4.3/5
Critics seem to be divided on the 2012 Outback. It has the lowest KBB rating on the list thus far, but it also won the U.S. News Best Wagon for Families. All we know is that the Outback has a great reputation among owners as a reliable, safe vehicle with a low cost of ownership. The all-wheel drive and six/four-cylinder engine options also give it some pep that other SUVs can’t match.
However, the Outback’s real calling card is the interior. It has more than enough cargo space and the seating is roomy and comfortable. The entertainment features might be underwhelming for families with several children, but it has everything a first-time car owner could need.
8. 2012 Toyota RAV4
Average Price Range: $10,700-14,500
KBB Rating: 4.4/5
Any RAV4 would make a good first car for guys, but the 2012 model stands out for winning Best Affordable Compact SUV and being the last RAV4 to have optional third-row seating. It was also the first to have Bluetooth connectivity, so the 2012 model is easily the most bang-for-your-buck option available.
With an exceptional cost of ownership and reliability, many 2012 RAV4s are still on the road today with their original owners. That’s why the price range is higher than other vehicles on this list. You might have a little more trouble finding a good deal, but the time and money are worth the investment.
9. 2013 Dodge Ram 1500
Average Price Range: $12,800-26,500
KBB Rating: 4.6/5
We had to include a pick-up truck on the list for the truck-loving readers out there. The 2013 Ram 1500 was the first Dodge truck to sport a new V6 engine, meaning has about the same speed, acceleration and mileage as newer models. That’s one of the reasons why the price range is so wide. A used 2013 Ram in solid condition is every bit as good as 2015 or 2016 models with the same wear and tear.
The interior has room to comfortably fit five adults (an important distinction from five people), climate control, park assist and other standard features. But that’s not why people get trucks. You should get a Ram for the 8,950-pound towing capacity and 395 horsepower – great specs for a great truck.
10. 2014 Mazda3
Average Price Range: $8,800-14,300
KBB Rating: 4.5/5
Last but not least, we have the 2014 Mazda3 – one of the best sedans in its class and Best Compact Car for the Money (among other awards from U.S. News). The mileage tops out at 41 mpg, which is almost unheard of in modern vehicles. It comes with an automatic or manual transmission, drives like a sports car and handles like a family-friendly SUV.
The interior has Mercedes-like leather seating, plenty of legroom and a smartphone integration system. It’s one of the best first cars you could buy. If you manage to find a used model in good condition below $15,000, snatch it up before someone else does.
Find Your First Car
Putting together a list of good first cars for guys was a challenging endeavor. Vehicle purchases are often subjective, after all. Some of us like sports cars, some like trucks and others prefer an all-purpose SUV. However, every guy can appreciate a reliable and affordable vehicle, no matter the make or model. That’s what this list is about. So get out there and find a car that will stick with you for the long haul!