First car, any recommendations?

I will be needing a car soon. I’m wanting a cheap, fun hatchback, and I’m hoping to get a decently reliable one. Right now I’m kinda looking at getting a 2012 - 2015 Volkswagen GTI and I’ve found a few good options nearby from $9k to $14k. Any recommendations for what to get that is kind of similar? Preferences: fun hatchback (or maybe a small sedan), good reliability, less than 100k miles, less than $15,000, preferably automatic transmission as it will be a daily driver. If you do have any ideas, please also let me know of the pros and cons. Thanks!

Go buy the Consumer Reports car buying guide for reliability info. The GTI is fun but not as reliable as, say, a Mazda 3 hatch.


Instead of asking what used vehicle to buy why not look at the manufacture web sites for a new vehicle for less then 20000.00 . With lower finance rates and full warranty that can be a better deal.

We bought a Ford Fiesta in 2018 for less than 16000.00 . And there are other vehicles out there in that same price range

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My son bought a 2011 (or 2012) Mazda 3 for his first car. Fun to drive and so far it’s been extremely reliable.

Well if you want a reliable hatch, a VW is the wrong direction to go.

At your budget I’d be looking at a used Hyundai Veloster Turbo. They’re fun, you can get them with automatics, they’re reliable, good on gas, and you can get them for less than 15 grand.


If you chose the 4-8 year old car, any used car for that matter, be sure to check the database for recalls, especially the one for the Takata air bags.

I second @MikeInNH vote on Mazda3, it is all good in reliability department and is not boring to drive, even with automatics.
Once you narrow-down to the one you want to buy, make sure to inspect the car with your mechanic, not the one seller is providing. Event if you buy from a dealer lot and they give you some warranty, you want your car to work reliably, not to sit in warranty repairs, so know well the condition of the car you are purchasing.
Besides, most of aftermarket warranties are cash-generators for the selling dealer and not worth a paper they are written on, unless it is “Certified Preown” ones from manufacturer, and even then you might be up for a lot of surprise if you are to use it, so stay away from this upsell unless you carefully read a fine-print and know what you do.

Mazda3 for the win. It was BestRide’s favorite compact car for 2016 when new. Get the 2.5-liter engine, not the 2.0 that was in some years. If you decide to instead finance the vehicle and buy new or recently pre-owned, try the Hyundai Elantra GT Sport. Here is an overview of 4 hot hatches you may enjoy. A lot of folks in your situation like the Subaru WRX, but reliability is not its strong point. And they are not that fun to drive (in my opinion). My first car (after a beater) was a used Supra hatchabck and my first new car was a Civic SI hatch. So, I can relate to your search.

If I may add one note: If you live in a state that is pushing EVs like MA, RI, CT or any ZEV state, you may want to drive a Kia Niro BEV or a Kia Soul EV. Even cars like the Leaf and Bolt are very fun to drive in the real world (since you are getting an automatic) and some of these can cost you NEW as little as $20K if you can take advantage of the federal $7500 tax deduction and your state throws you a couple grand.