Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

An orange 2023 Nissan Kicks is shown driving on a road after visiting a Nissan dealer.

These Nissan Models Are Perfect for New Grads and Young Drivers

Maybe you’re a recent grad searching for a great car to take you on your next adventure, or maybe you’re a parent struggling to find the safest vehicle for your newly licensed teen. It’s natural to feel a little intimidated by the sheer volume of choices—not to mention the responsibilities of car ownership for younger folks—but manufacturers like Nissan help ease common concerns and simplify the selection process, so everyone ends up satisfied without breaking the bank.

The newest lineup of Nissan vehicles, available now at your local Nissan dealer, offers sporty and stylish cars that will make a statement on campus, as well as practical and reliable vehicles for commuting to class or your first job. Nissan’s diverse lineup suits every budget and won’t require buyers to sacrifice safety for low monthly payments. Nissan is known for focusing on technology, safety, and cutting-edge design, a fact that will thrill young drivers looking to avoid a boring hatchback or sedan.

From the sleek and sporty Altima to the versatile and practical Kicks, Nissan vehicles offer buyers a variety of body styles and configurations, whether you’re looking for a compact and efficient car for your daily commute or a more spacious SUV for road trips to and from college. Though the saying seems a bit trite, Nissan truly offers something for everyone, making the decision easier for parents while offering the benefit of letting young drivers add a little personality to their new ride.

A red 2023 Nissan Altima SR is shown driving at night.

Subcompact Style: The Quirky Nissan Kicks

Nothing beats that new car smell, especially for first-time buyers and newly licensed drivers. If you’re on the hunt for an affordable vehicle with an affordable price tag but aren’t comfortable with rolling the dice on a used car, consider the affordable Nissan Kicks. There’s a lot to love within this tiny SUV, including a low $20k price tag and superb fuel economy ratings of 31 MPG in the city and 36 MPG on the highway. Best of all, its style looms prominent, both in curb appeal and inside the roomy cabin.

Budget buyers will appreciate the well-equipped Kicks S, a base model loaded with advanced safety features like automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning, along with a nicely sized touchscreen and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration capability. Power windows are standard and include a handy one-touch up/down feature; remote keyless entry and a push-button start are also standard. Young drivers will appreciate the plethora of exterior color options, including five unique two-tone hues and Nissan’s iconic Monarch Orange Metallic. Inside, the roomy cabin combines with a nicely sized cargo area to give drivers plenty of room for their gear.

One downside: the Kicks isn’t available with all-wheel drive. Future generations may offer it, but for now, it only comes with front-wheel drive; this is a bummer for anyone who yearns to go offroading. Still, Car and Driver characterizes the Kicks as “surprisingly perky” and “nimble” and reports that it delivers a “well-cushioned ride.” For newer drivers, simple is better, and because the Kicks is easy to drive, with responsive steering and a comfortable suspension, novices can relax and focus on the road. If you’re looking for a few extra bells and whistles, upper trims offer more powerful Bose audio systems and a larger 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen.

A white 2023 Nissan Altima SR is shown parked near a city.

Compact and Capable: The Iconic Nissan Sentra

The Sentra, a best-seller since its debut back in 1982, remains one of the most popular four-door sedans in the industry. As a compact model, the Sentra works well for new drivers as they develop their skills. It’s easy to drive and park, and Nissan’s intuitive driver assistance technology will help less confident drivers change lanes and pull into garages worry-free. With four available trims—all of which are priced in the $20,000 range—along with a generous array of standard safety and convenience features, the Sentra is a budget vehicle that offers tremendous value.

The Sentra’s expansive available exterior color palette includes several two-tone options that outfit this adorable sedan with a black roof. Combined with Nissan’s signature Monarch Orange Metallic or the bright Electric Blue Metallic hues, the Sentra takes on a sporty and unique curb appeal young buyers will appreciate. Inside, the Sentra’s tech-heavy infotainment system and connected services features facilitate smartphone integration and provide easy access to apps like Spotify for streaming playlists and podcasts.

Parents will love the Sentra’s advanced suite of driver assistance features, and everyone will appreciate its small price tag. Also, Nissan includes a handful of extras across the entire trim lineup, including remote keyless entry with a push-button start, intermittent windshield wipers, and a 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen. Since Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration are included, young drivers will be able to text hands-free. Within the top-of-the-line SR Midnight Edition, the dual-zone climate control, heated steering wheel, and power seats add a touch of luxury.

A blue 2023 Nissan Kicks is shown driving on a street.

Add Some Zest to Your Ride: The Fan-Favorite Nissan Altima

If your driver prefers to move up in size to the next-largest sedan, you’ll want to take a close look at the Nissan Altima. Another perennial favorite, the Altima provides additional cabin and cargo space without substantially decreasing fuel economy or adding excess bulk. Starting in the mid-$20,000 range, the Altima costs a bit more, but its overall value is evident across the trim line, especially with the mid-range Altima SV.

While the base model is a bit less expensive, it’s also rather spartan. Nissan includes a 5.0-inch information display, Nissan Safety Shield 360 driver assistance technology, and 16-inch wheels on the S; however, moving up to the SV for around $800 more adds a larger 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, larger 17-inch wheels, and a power driver’s seat. The top trim, the SL, features a standard 12.3-inch touchscreen with navigation and wireless smartphone integration; it also comes with a nine-speaker premium Bose audio system and a wireless smartphone charger.

The Altima includes a large trunk with space for 15.9 cu.ft. of cargo, along with class-leading fuel economy ratings of 27 MPG in the city and 39 MPG on the highway. Available all-wheel drive affords cold-weather climate buyers an opportunity to enhance handling in inclement weather. If your budget allows, Nissan also offers an optional 248-hp VC-Turbo engine that brings 273 lb-ft of torque. However, the base four-cylinder 2.5L motor achieves higher fuel economy ratings—a fact that might sway commuters or folks on a tighter budget.

The grille of a blue 2023 Nissan Altima SR is shown.

The Ideal Nissan for Every Young Driver

Nissan offers a diverse range of vehicles in every body style, catering to budget-oriented buyers looking for a great first vehicle for themselves or the newest drivers in their families. This automaker’s commitment to manufacturing ultra-safe vehicles packed with connectivity and convenience features is evident in the Kicks, the Sentra, and the Altima. Add to that each of these vehicles’ impressive fuel economy ratings, and you’ll also enjoy low ownership costs.

Nissan’s advanced safety features, such as Nissan Safety Shield 360 and ProPILOT Assist, ensure your driver is protected while on the road. These systems, which include lane keep assist and forward collision alert, supplement young drivers’ attentive driving habits and minimize the potential for a crash. Each of these models also gives drivers plenty of freedom to fully customize their ride; the fun part is choosing from an array of trims, colors, and exterior add-ons, like different wheel designs. Nissan knows that style matters.

Choosing a new vehicle when you’re entering the car market for the first time—or deciding on a car ideal for your new driver—doesn’t require hours of research. Automakers like Nissan have hurdled this obstacle on your behalf, providing a lineup of contenders that tick all the boxes without asking buyers to make sacrifices. Start your search at a Nissan dealer if price, value, safety, and style matter to you.