As a learner driver, your very first car should be an affordable, reliable and safe vehicle. You might gravitate towards a certain model initially, but it’s important to consider what you really need in the best first car.
The Importance of Choosing a Good First Car
Before buying your first new car, you should consider:
- Cost - How does this impact your budget?
- Age - Are you going to purchase a new or used car?
- Size - How big is the car you want to purchase?
- Safety features - What type of safety equipment is in your car?
- Car Maintenance - How much will it cost to service your car?
- Fuel Efficiency - Fuel consumption fuel economy
- Car running costs - What is the total cost needed to run your car?
- ANCAP safety rating - What star ANCAP rating does my car have?
- Car insurance costs - Do you want to insure your car for market value or an agreed value?
Before buying your first car you should also consider which road safety features are most important to you. While safety equipment like seatbelts and airbags are compulsory safety features, the introduction of new safety vehicle technologies will provide significant road safety benefits to all road users.
Some of these new safety features may include:
Rear cross traffic alert - Helps you back out of spaces with approaching traffic (like in a car park)
Autonomous emergency braking - Uses radars to measure the distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you, and will react if this distance is shortened suddenly.
Rear parking sensors - Detect objects behind your car while reversing.
Blind spot monitoring - Scans external mirrors blind spots behind your vehicle and alert you to any potentially dangerous lane changes.
Newer safety features will depend on the make and model of your new car.
If you’re a young driver with a licence then there are some learner driver restrictions you must stick to. Learner drivers can not drive a V8 or any high-powered vehicle in the Australian Capital Territory, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia. You may want to take this into consideration when looking for your first car.
Best First Cars in Australia
Here is our list of some of the best first cars in Australia for new drivers.
Known as one of the most popular cars in Australia for learner drivers, the Suzuki Swift is compact, reasonably priced and a constant on our roads.
The Swift is one of the most fuel-efficient cars on sale in Australia and has a fuel range of up to 804 km. This make and model starts at $23,490 before on-road costs. 
The Suzuki Swift has a five-star ANCAP safety rating and was tested in 2017.
This rating does not apply to GL variants (base), including the GL Navigator, GL Navigator with Safety Pack, GLX, GLX Turbo, RS, Sport and Hybrid (NZ variants).
Manoeuvrable and easy to park
Excellent fuel economy
Interior is uninspired
Could use more storage areas
Small in size
Read full reviews of the Suzuki Swift from our friends at Chasing Cars.
Toyota Camry Hybrid
This sporty hybrid performs better than expected with a petrol-electric hybrid system.
This Toyota Camry has a fuel range of up to 1,063 km and starts from $39,190. 
The Toyota Camry has a five-star ANCAP safety rating and was tested in 2017.
Affordable to buy
Includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
Spacious back seat and boot
No heated seats
Low-resolution infotainment graphics
The cabin presentation is still dull
Read the full review of the Toyota Camry SX Hybrid 2022 from our friends at Chasing Cars.
Toyota Yaris Cross
As Toyota’s smallest and most fuel-efficient SUV, the Toyota Yaris Cross joins the latest generation of hybrid vehicles.
The Toyota Yaris Cross is one of the most efficient and affordable cars and has a fuel range of up to 777 km. This make and model starts at $26,990 before on-road costs. 
The Toyota Yaris Cross has a five-star ANCAP safety rating and was tested in 2021.
Brilliant fuel economy
Includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
Loud petrol engine
Uncomfortable seating position
Hard cabin plastics
Read the full review of the Toyota Yaris Cross Hybrid from our friends at Chasing Cars.
Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid
After 12 generations of small cars, Toyota has finally added the Corolla Cross SUV to its lineup.
The Toyota Corolla Cross has a five-star ANCAP safety rating and was tested in 2022.
- A nice small family-size car
- Inexpensive servicing
- Seamless hybrid experience
- This make and model is more expensive
- Some issues with hybrid drivability
- Outdated design
Read the full review of the Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid from our friends at Chasing Cars.
Mazda’s second generation CX-5 gets its first proper visual makeover and even more upgrades.
The Mazda CX-5 has a five-star ANCAP safety rating and was tested in 2017.
More comfortable front seats
Great model differentiation
Running costs are not great
10,000 km intervals between servicing
Lacks fuel efficiency
Read the full review of the Mazda CX-5 from our friends at Chasing Cars.
ANCAP Safety Ratings
For learner drivers, a five-star ANCAP safety rating is very important because it shows that a particular vehicle has the highest level of safety for passengers and pedestrians in the event of a crash.
Car Running Costs
Additional car running costs like fuel, servicing and tyres and car insurance can become costly over time. If you want to maintain low running costs then this will depend on where you live, in a major city or a regional area, the type of car you own and overall inflation. With inflation, the value of cars will also rise, leading to higher car insurance premiums.
Market Value vs. Agreed Value
When you get a quote for comprehensive car insurance you’ll be required to choose between insuring your car at its market value vs. agreed value. Your choice should depend on your car’s value concerning the market, the age of your car and how much you want to spend on insurance premiums.