Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A red 2022 Chevy Malibu is shown parked on a city street after leaving a Chevy dealer.

Choosing the Ideal Chevy Model for Your First Vehicle

Car shopping has always been difficult. Car shopping on a budget is even more difficult. Car shopping for your very first vehicle is extremely difficult. Needless to say, it’s not easy when you’re out there looking for a car. You have to find something that’s not only within the confines of your budget but also practical for everyday use. Sifting through the countless makes and models and doing the proper research for what might suit you best can be exhausting. Wouldn’t it be nice to have some help? A good place to start is either a smaller car or an inexpensive one. Hatchbacks and sedans are usually cheaper to insure than a sports car. For example, my first car was a 1993 Nissan Sentra. It was smaller than the average sedan, which made it easy to learn the ropes as far as driving goes. Later on, I had a 1988 Mazda 323, a two-door hatchback that was inexpensive to insure and allowed me to live within a smaller budget. There are definitely some viable options for your first car at your local Chevy dealer, so let’s take a look at some models I’d choose if I was getting my first car again.

A silver 2022 Chevy Trax is shown driving up a steep city hill.

The 2022 Chevy Trax

Just because you’re now a grown-up and have responsibilities doesn’t mean you have to be like your parents and buy an eyesore of a minivan. Owning an SUV is a viable alternative, but all you can think of is a boat on wheels that guzzles fuel like no tomorrow and is nearly impossible to navigate the streets in the area you call home. Now, what if we told you that all those popular conceptions you have can be easily disproved? The SUV is more accessible and economical than it’s ever been. See where I’m going with this?

You don’t want a fuel-guzzling boat, right? The days of SUVs needing large V8’s to pull their massive weight around have been over for quite some time. Both the Trax and its motor might be smaller than the SUVs that might come to mind, but I assure you their hearts are mighty.

The Trax is actually around the same size as the average four-door sedan, which means maneuvering is easy, and getting in and out of spaces is easy–even on city streets. Making trips to the pump is part and parcel to the world of vehicle ownership. And you’ll need to go. However, the Trax is powered by 1.4L 4-cylinder, which is both economical for fuel cost and practical for a first-time vehicle owner. You’ll have 155 horsepower, which is more than adequate for a daily commute and playtime on the weekends. Since the Trax can get up to 27 MPG (combined rating), your fill-ups won’t be as frequent, and you can use that extra change for the gas station snack bar or use it towards your college tuition.

If you’re concerned about room for your groceries and the stuff you bring back and forth to your dorm, you need not worry. Over 48 cubic feet of storage space is double what you’ll get for a four-door sedan. At this point, you’re probably out of excuses. The Trax is practical, economical, and with available AWD, you can even travel off the beaten path.

The 2022 Chevy Malibu

Maybe you don’t need something like an SUV. Perhaps you just need to get to and from various destinations. A matter that many first-time car buyers overlook all too often is finding a car that’s within their means. This isn’t just the sticker price on the windshield. Two mandatory but often overlooked expenses you can expect to incur is car insurance and gas. However, there’s another part of the equation that also gets overlooked: maintenance and repairs.

I was a new driver once. It never occurred to me when I purchased my first vehicle that I’d have to worry about something like an oil change or if something went wrong and broke. Routine maintenance in and of itself can be expensive; every six months, you can expect to pay around $100 to make sure your car is in prime shape. Every few years, you need to pay around $400 for a set of new tires. This is on top of a monthly payment for your auto loan and your insurance.

Knowing you have money set aside just in case the unfortunate occurs is quite possibly the best preemptive measure you can take. One of the ways you can cut back on cost is getting a vehicle that’s as practical as practical can be. This means looking for a car with a good fuel economy rating. Keep an eye out for the four-door sedan, it’s an excellent choice for a first car, and they typically don’t run up insurance costs.

One of Chevy’s vehicles that meets this criteria is the Malibu. While a four-door sedan isn’t flashy or bombastic, it is practical and reliable–which is what you need as a first-time car buyer. The Malibu is powered by one of two different engines. A 1.5L 4-cylinder is the Malibu’s more economical engine. You can get up to 32 MPG (combined rating) with this engine. This is effective for managing your daily commute and any weekend activities you might have planned. Not to worry, though, the Malibu has plenty of accessories as well.

While you won’t be winning any drag races with a 160 horsepower engine underneath the hood (we don’t advise you to drag race at all either way), you will be able to take your friends to a concert or games, as the Malibu seats five comfortably. If you’ve got some shopping to do with the money you’ve been saving at the pump, you’ll have room for that too. A trunk with 15 cubic feet of space is just above the industry standard.

In a few years down the road, you can upgrade your Malibu for something much more your speed, but with a lifespan of 100,000-150,000 miles (roughly 10-15 years), you’ll be getting back what you put in.

A blue 2022 Chevy Spark is shown parked outside of a modern home.

The 2022 Chevy Spark

A major part of getting out into the world and making your own way is to learn to live within your means, and this sometimes equates to living on a strict budget. That doesn’t mean you have to go without a reasonable quality of life that owning a car brings. Well, being frugal and not making larger-than-life purchases is a great way to start out. A good starter car for the first-time buyer is the Chevy Spark. Which is small in size but extra large on savings with a starting MSRP of $13,600.

The Chevy Spark is a small compact car that gives new meaning to the word “compact.” While the average sedan is roughly 14 to 15 feet long, the Spark measures out to just under 12 feet. This scaled-down body makes maneuvering much easier and parking as simple as possible.

Living on a budget just got easier, thanks to the Spark’s incredible maximum fuel efficiency rating of 38 MPG (highway rating). Practicality is one of the Spark’s greatest features, as you’ll have 27 cu.ft. of cargo space at your disposal. But that’s not really all the Spark has to offer.

Being a new driver often means that sacrifices have to be made for style and features. You can’t always get the best of the best because you can’t afford the best just yet. However, the Spark comes in some pretty incredible colors like Nitro Yellow, Mystic Blue, and Red Hot.

It’s Your First, Not Your Final

When I was driving my old Mazda 323, it wasn’t what I had in mind. I wanted a 1979 Pontiac Trans Am, jet black with a flaming eagle on the hood. However, it just wasn’t practical then. The first car you purchase is much like your first part-time job, it’s not going to last the rest of your life, and there are plenty of opportunities to upgrade. By purchasing a car with a good fuel economy rating that’s inexpensive to insure, you’ll learn the ropes much quicker. Whenever you buy your next car, you can call on that experience to make the right pick.