Best car for a new driver: What features should you look for?

Not sure what's the right car model for you? Here's a guide on which important features you should consider!


So you’re a new driver and decided to buy your first car, finally. Congratulations! With hundreds of models being marketed to us daily, we get how having too many choices in the Philippines can make car shopping for the best one more stressful than fun, especially for beginners.

If you need help familiarising yourself with what makes an ideal first car for new drivers, we’re here to guide you on which key vehicle features you must take into consideration. Start by answering the following questions:

Best car for a new driver: What features to look for:

1. First things first.. why do I need this car?
2. What is the right car size for me?
3. Am I buying a fuel-efficient car?
4. What are the car’s safety features?
5. Starter car bonus tip: Do I go for a manual or automatic transmission?

1. First things first.. why do I need this car?

Before we talk about the features, let’s start off by asking yourself the purpose of buying a car. 

Do you need it to make future family travels more convenient, as a reward for your hard work, or for safety while there’s still COVID-19? By knowing your personal needs, looking up car features and specifications that perfectly match it will make everything 10x easier! This saves you time (and money) to avoid beginner mistakes when choosing a good starter car.

TIP: Don’t know yet what car type suits your lifestyle and budget? Take our quiz and use our car budget calculator next to have a better idea! 

2. What is the right car size for me?

A friend once told me — “When you start driving a car, think of it as an extension of your body. You must be able to have full control of it.” 

True enough, the last thing we want is your first car to be scratched by another vehicle during city rush hour, or struggle while squeezing in a small parking space! As a new driver, you must have a sense of how big your car is and if you can manage to maneuver its size well in tight situations.

For first-time drivers, we recommend going for smaller cars as it is more newbie-friendly than longer and wider ones. With its compact size, you can drive safer without stressing about tricky road scenarios. An exception is if you’re used to practicing with bigger cars already way before buying your own— if you can, go for it!

Toyota Vios listed by @topmostautos

Some cars for starters include a compact sedan like a Toyota Vios or hatchback like Mitsubishi Mirage–both proven to be easy to drive as they’re commonly used at driving schools. For small MPVs, Toyota Avanza is a good option too.

Browse cars on Carousell

3. Am I buying a fuel-efficient car?


Sorry to break the news— the car you’re buying may fit your budget… but make sure to watch out for petrol consumption too!  If it’s a no-no for you to incur these extra annual fuel costs in the future, a way to save is by choosing a car with good fuel efficiency.

Fuel efficiency is defined by how much distance you can travel on a certain amount of fuel. See this table for comparison:

Yearly driving average 15,000km 15,000km
Fuel economy 4 liters/100km 5 liters/100km
Liters the car will consume 600 liters 750 liters
Yearly fuel cost at PHP48/liter PHP 28,800 PHP 36,000

Owner of Car A saved PHP7,200 in a year by choosing a more fuel-efficient engine.

As a guide for new drivers, anything that is less than 6-liters/100km or more than 16.5km/1-liter is considered to be good. Yes to cheaper fuel expenses in the long run!

Some of our car picks with great fuel efficiency are: Kia Picanto (29.23km/1-liter), Honda Civic (19km/1-liter), and Peugeot 3008 (25.39km/1-liter)

Browse cars on Carousell

4. What are the car’s safety features?


Everyone loves a road trip, but no one wants road accidents. Not only does it look bad, but repairs for a minor dent can range from PHP2500-PHP3000 depending on the damage. For more serious accidents that involve other vehicles, you’ll also have to incur additional costs of a tow truck and out-of-pocket costs that aren’t covered by insurance!

Here are some examples of safety features a new driver can look out for and what they do: 

  • Airbags– a bag that inflates to protect your body from impact during a collision
  • Anti-lock braking system– helps you steer the car while you brake during an emergency
  • Stability control–  helps you maintain control of the car’s direction during extreme steering
  • Shatter-resistant glass– type of glass that does not break easily into dangerous shards
  • Parking sensors– alerts the driver when he/she is close to hitting a parking obstacle

Do note that some of them may come with a higher price tag, but the protection these features can give your car and life from danger is definitely worth the investment.

Browse cars on Carousell

5. Best car for a new driver bonus tip: Do I go for a manual or automatic transmission?


At this point, you might have a general idea about or have tried driving manual and automatic cars already. In case you are still undecided or just about to take driving lessons, don’t worry! Here’s a quick comparison of each car transmission type to help you decide:


  • Cheaper than automatic cars 
  • Better fuel economy and lower maintenance cost
  • Full gear control 


  • More difficult to learn 
  • Needs higher concentration when changing gears
  • Rarer to find vs. automatic cars 

  • Easier to learn and drive, thus making it beginner-friendly
  • More stress-free driving, less concentration when shifting gears


  • More expensive than manual cars upfront
  • More costly maintenance and repair job
  • Less fuel-efficient

If it’s a manual transmission, the driver must be the one to shift the gears. You’ll usually have five or six gears and reverse which gives you full control while driving the car if that’s your preference. Need an extra push while driving uphill during a road trip? You can totally do it your way!

For automatic transmission, the car does the shifting for you, which makes it easy for beginners. This is great especially during slow-moving traffic for a smoother ride.

Here are our two cents: 

  • Go for the manual car if: You prefer to save a few thousand dollars, are willing to learn how to drive a stick, or a hardcore manual enthusiast who likes full control while driving.
  • Go for the automatic car if: You prefer something more beginner-friendly and don’t mind paying a premium for convenience. 

If you’d like to check out your car options, you can find a variety of manual and automatic cars with the best value on Carousell- some for as low as Php 400,000


What can be considered as the “best car for a new driver” is different for everyone. Since owning a vehicle is a big-ticket purchase and a long-term commitment, choosing the right one is very important! Buyer’s remorse is definitely not a horror story we want you to have.

We hope that you find this quick guide useful for your car search.😉



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