Are Fords Good First Cars? (Crown Vic, Fusion, KA + 11 More)

Ford vehicles generally aren’t the most reliable compared to the competition, making them less ideal as first cars for young drivers.

However, some select and smaller Ford vehicles may surprise.

is ford a good first car

Generally: Are Fords Good First Cars?

Ford vehicles aren’t as famous as their Japanese rivals in the reliability stake.

Consumer Reports ranked Ford #18 out of 28 in their 2021 reliability rankings, a below-average performance.

Ford’s ranking on RepairPal is similarly low – #21 out of 32 brands.

However, judging by JD Power’s ratings, the newer Ford models are more reliable, but you need to research thoroughly before buying a Ford as your first car.

With Ford’s massive investment into the future of EVs, Ford loyalists can stay hopeful that there will be many new exciting models to come.

Specific Ford Models:

#1 Is a Ford Bronco a Good First Car?

The Ford Bronco has an all-new design that debuted in 2021 and the old pre-1996 model years.

The 1996 or older Ford Bronco is a terrible choice for a first car:

  • Too large for a new driver – difficult to maneuver in tight spaces; parking will be a big challenge.
  • Too powerful an engine – the V8 across its various trims is too much power for a teenager’s needs.
  • Abysmal fuel economy – you cannot expect much from a V8 in a sizeable truck-like vehicle.
  • Expensive maintenance – for a more than two decades old model, replacement parts will be costly if you can find them.

The 2021 Ford Bronco or newer underwent a substantial redesign with improvements on multiple fronts.

A midsize SUV isn’t an ideal first car for a teenager in most cases.

But if you need a vehicle for daily driving with the occasional off-roading adventure, the new Ford Bronco is (still) an average first car due to its mixed credentials:

  • High seating position – ideal for improved outward visibility.
  • Midsize SUV – an ideal size if you consider the small dimensions of a subcompact sedan disadvantageous in accidents.
  • Difficult to park – its size is also a drawback for an inexperienced driver when parking.
  • Low fuel efficiency – it’s an unnecessarily heavy vehicle for a young driver on a small budget. 20 city, 22 highway, and 21 combined are unimpressive mpg figures.

If you compare the Bronco to the Jeep Wrangler, the Bronco is a better daily driver.

It matches the Wrangler’s off-roading capabilities, while the Bronco offers better ride comfort with more-responsive handling.

But if you only drive on pavements and need to be thrifty with your gas money, avoid the Ford Bronco.

21 mpg combined is poor fuel economy in today’s standard.

#2 Is the Ford Crown Victoria a Good First Car?

The Ford Crown Victoria saw its last model year produced in 2011.

It has seen decades of use by various government agencies, partly because they are reliable vehicles.

But still, it is a discontinued model.

Will it still be a good choice for a first vehicle today?

Even if you don’t mind buying a discontinued vehicle, the Crown Victoria is a poor choice for a first car:

  • It’s a full-size sedan – the dimensions will prove a huge problem for inexperienced drivers to park the car without suffering dents and scratches.
  • Used Crown Vics are relatively affordable – but you have many fuel-efficient and safer options at a similar price. Finding a reliable Crown Vic is the more significant challenge.
  • Low fuel economy – rated at 16 city, 24 highway, and 19 combined mpg, most modern cars will perform better than the Crown Vic.
  • High maintenance costs – it was once cheap to maintain, but not anymore.
  • Poor safety ratings – the IIHS rated the 2011 Crown Vic ‘Marginal’ in their side and rear crash tests. ‘Marginal’ is the second-lowest of the four IIHS grades.

Crown Victorias are no longer in production, so finding one with low mileage will get tougher, and parts will be increasingly hard to come by.

According to RepairPal, maintaining a Crown Vic costs an average of $1,081 per year.

$652 is the average for all vehicle models.

The Crown Vic’s stiff ride is unpleasant for daily driving compared to newer cars.

Further, the intrusive cabin noise at higher speeds will be a turn-off for you and your passengers.

It may be a fine first car years ago, but it is unsafe and lacks standard safety features in today’s cars.

There are better newer alternatives for your money.

#3 Is a Ford Edge a Good First Car?

The Ford Edge is a midsize, two-row SUV but an aging model in the company’s lineup.

Most large and midsize SUVs do not make great first vehicles due to their size and mediocre fuel economy.

But if you wish for the better protection of an SUV in accidents, the Ford Edge makes good first cars, in addition to its other plus points:

  • Excellent safety ratings – full marks on the IIHS and NHTSA crash tests should give you peace of mind, as long as the driver drives responsibly.
  • Solid reliability – the 80/100 score on JD Power is not the best but is slightly above average for SUVs.
  • Affordable maintenance – $611 per year, according to RepairPal, which is below the $652 average for all vehicle models.
  • Average visibility – the higher seating position is advantageous for young drivers, although the thick pillars compromise outward visibility and create blind spots.
  • Middling gas mileage – 21 city, 29 highway, and 24 combined is a respectable miles-per-gallon for a midsize SUV.
  • Relatively affordable insurance costs – between $190 and $320 a month for teenagers, depending on model year.

That said, a midsize SUV is an unnecessarily large dimension to maneuver around town.

Plus, parking a Ford Edge won’t be the easiest.

#4 Is a Ford Escape a Good First Car?

The Ford Escape is a small SUV in a super-competitive segment.

If the larger Ford Edge qualifies as an average first car – as far as SUVs go – the smaller Ford Escape would be ideal for the advantages it brings as a compact SUV for teenage drivers:

  • Good visibility – similar to many compact SUVs; excellent outward view on the front, and average on the sides.
  • Impeccable safety credentials – it achieved the highest score in IIHS and NHTSA safety ratings.
  • Excellent fuel economy – 28 city, 34 highway, and 30 combined on the front-wheel-drive trim is slightly better mpg than its direct rivals.
  • Strong reliability – 80/100 score by JD Power, which is respectable for SUVs.
  • Inexpensive yearly maintenance – $600 is affordable for an SUV when the average for all vehicles is $652.
  • Affordable insurance costs – between $210 and $400 a month for a teenager, depending on the model year.

However, the Ford Escape does not handle as well as its competitors with excessive roll when cornering.

It’s also a drawback you can easily look past as the ride is smooth and reasonably quiet at speed.

If you want a Ford Escape with a much-improved fuel economy, opt for the Ford Escape Hybrid – 40 mpg combined on gas and 105 mpg-equivalent combined on the hybrid operation.

The Ford Escape is a competitive first car, but if a compact SUV is your preference, there are various compelling options you can consider:

  1. Honda CRV
  2. Toyota RAV4
  3. Mazda CX-5

#5 Is a Ford Explorer a Good First Car?

The Ford Explorer may class as a midsize SUV, but its dimensions point towards a vehicle too large for new drivers.

If fuel economy and an easy-to-drive vehicle matter most to you – it should – then the Ford Explorer is a poor choice for a first car:

  • Poor gas mileage – mid-20s mpg combined is average at best.
  • Difficult to handle – an Explorer’s size is too large for inexperienced drivers to maneuver.
  • Difficult to park – its sheer size and blind spots will pose great difficulty.
  • Below-average reliability – JD Power consistently scores it below 80 out of 100.
  • Average visibility – although it has a high seating position, the thick windshield and rear pillars compromise outward visibility.
  • Costly maintenance – $732 per year, according to RepairPal.

The front-wheel-drive option is available in pre-2021 model years.

However, the only 2wd option for the 2021 model year and beyond is rear-wheel-drive, which is a less-than-ideal choice to learn the basics of driving.

Rear-wheel-drive vehicles have a higher tendency to fishtail in wet or icy conditions.

Alternatively, you can opt for the all-wheel-drive version, but the fuel economy suffers, and it is more expensive to buy and maintain.

On the flip side, the Ford Explorer demonstrated rock-solid safety in the IIHS and NHTSA crash tests.

So, if you must get an Explorer and ignore the rest of its drawbacks, you know the Explorer is as safe as any road-going vehicle can get.

Further, the quiet and comfortable ride are amazing plus points any driver would love to have.

The Ford Explorer is an excellent first vehicle if the driver is responsible and reasonably skilled with a sizeable budget to boot.

#6 Is a Ford Fiesta a Good First Car?

Subcompact sedans are ideal first cars because they are thrifty on fuel and inexpensive to maintain.

The Ford Fiesta is one such example.

Unfortunately, the 2019 Ford Fiesta is the last model year you can buy.

The Ford Fiesta may not show class-leading performance in every aspect, but it is hard to argue against the Fiesta being a good first car:

  • Relatively strong gas mileage – low-30s mpg combined is frugal enough for a teenager concerned with gas money.
  • Good visibility – the narrow windshield pillars offer a good view out the front.
  • Average safety ratings – fell short of scoring full marks in the IIHS and NHTSA crash tests. Its rivals performed better.
  • Relatively cheap to buy – it’s hard to find a more affordable car at any comparable vehicle age, but
  • Above-average maintenance costs – $552 per year is above the $456 average for subcompact cars, and
  • Middling reliability record – the Fiesta model years consistently score below 80 out of 100, according to JD Power.

Visit the Ford Fiesta First Car post for more details, plus the comparison between Fiesta and similar vehicles for your first car.

How Safe Is the Ford Fiesta for Teenagers?

Let’s use the ultra-solid Honda Civic as a reference for this comparison.

Plus, the Ford Focus is a comparable vehicle within the Ford family.

Table Guide:

  • Safety (IIHS): 1 (poor) to 4 (good); IIHS tests average.
  • Safety (NHTSA): 1 (poor) to 5 (safest); NHTSA overall.
 Safety (IIHS)Safety (NHTSA)
Ford Fiesta3.6/44/5
Ford Focus3.8/45/5
Honda Civic4.0/45/5
Ford Fiesta, Ford Focus, and Honda Civic safety comparison.

The Ford Fiesta has respectable safety ratings.

However, comparing it to the Honda Civic gives you an idea of how safe a first car can be.

Which Fiesta Year Is Best as First Cars?

Table Guide:

  • Safety (IIHS): 1 (poor) to 4 (good); IIHS tests average.
  • Safety (NHTSA): 1 (poor) to 5 (safest); NHTSA overall.
  • Fuel Economy: mpg city/highway/combined (base trim).
  • Reliability: /100; higher = fewer problems (JD Power).
Model YearSafety (IIHS)Safety (NHTSA)Fuel Econ.Reliability
2019 Fiesta3.6/44/527/35/3074/100
2018 Fiesta3.6/44/527/35/30NA
2017 Fiesta3.6/44/527/35/30NA
2016 Fiesta3.6/44/527/35/3078/100
2015 Fiesta3.6/44/528/36/3171/100
2014 Fiesta3.6/44/528/36/3171/100
2013 Fiesta4/44/529/39/3364/100
2012 Fiesta4/44/529/38/3372/100
2011 Fiesta4/44/528/37/32NA
Ford Fiesta model years comparison.

All things being equal, the 2016 Ford Fiesta is the better pick due to its better reliability record among the model years.

Each used car is different, so please inspect before buying.

Is the Ford Fiesta ST a Good First Car?

The ST is a speedier trim of the base Ford Fiesta.

In the hands of a better-skilled driver, the Ford Fiesta ST is an excellent and fun first car.

But for the average teenage driver, the added power and sharper handling of the Fiesta ST are unnecessary.

The Ford Fiesta ST’s mpg is lower than the base model, although only marginally – 25 city, 32 highway, 29 combined.

#7 Is a Ford Focus a Good First Car?

Like the Ford Fiesta, the Ford Focus is a discontinued model (2018), so used ones are your only option.

The Ford Focus may not be the best subcompact for the money, but it is still a good first car:

  • Relatively frugal fuel consumption – low-30s mpg combined is plenty frugal for a teenage driver, although some subcompacts can do better.
  • Good visibility – the front pillars are narrow, aiding outward view.
  • Good safety ratings – a tad short of full marks in the IIHS crash tests, but full 5 stars on the NHTSA overall. Some rivals perform better overall, though.
  • Cheap to buy – a used subcompact is as affordable as it can get for a first car, but
  • Above-average maintenance costs – $569 per year is above the $456 average for subcompact cars, and
  • Middling reliability record – the Ford Focus model years consistently score below 80 out of 100, according to JD Power.

The Ford Focus First Car post contains more details and a comparison between Fiesta and similar vehicles for your first car.

How Safe Is the Ford Focus for Teenagers?

For this comparison, let’s use the Honda Civic as a reference.

Plus, the Ford Fiesta is a comparable vehicle within the Ford family.

Table Guide:

  • Safety (IIHS): 1 (poor) to 4 (good); IIHS tests average.
  • Safety (NHTSA): 1 (poor) to 5 (safest); NHTSA overall.
 Safety (IIHS)Safety (NHTSA)
Ford Focus3.8/45/5
Ford Fiesta3.6/44/5
Honda Civic4.0/45/5
Ford Focus, Ford Fiesta, and Honda Civic safety ratings.

The Ford Focus has commendable safety ratings.

However, comparing it to the Honda Civic gives you an idea of how safe a first car can be when one can never be too safe.

Between the Ford Focus and Ford Fiesta, the former is a safer vehicle.

Which Focus Year Is Best as First Cars?

The Ford Focus is generally a safe vehicle, so reliability is the appropriate criteria you should use to choose the better model year.

Table Guide:

  • Safety (IIHS): 1 (poor) to 4 (good); IIHS tests average.
  • Safety (NHTSA): 1 (poor) to 5 (safest); NHTSA overall.
  • Fuel Economy: mpg city/highway/combined (base trim).
  • Reliability: /100; higher = fewer problems (JD Power).
Model YearSafety (IIHS)Safety (NHTSA)Fuel Econ.Reliability
2018 Focus3.8/45/530/40/3477/100
2017 Focus3.8/45/530/40/3476/100
2016 Focus3.8/45/526/36/3077/100
2015 Focus3.8/45/526/36/3076/100
2014 Focus3.8/45/526/36/3069/100
2013 Focus3.8/45/526/36/3070/100
2012 Focus3.8/44/526/36/3068/100
2011 Focus3.6/4NA24/35/2879/100
Ford Focus model years comparison.

Most Ford Focus model years aren’t the most reliable cars compared to the Japanese subcompacts.

The 2017 and 2018 models are the most fuel-efficient among the base trims.

But if getting the highest possible gas mileage is crucial, opt for the Ford Focus Electric – you get an equivalent of 107 mpg combined.

When shopping for a used car, always inspect before buying as each vehicle is different.

Is the Ford Focus ST or RS a Good First Car?

The base Ford Focus is a good first car with all the right indicators of a frugal daily driver.

But when you double or triple that horsepower, the higher-performing Focus ST and Ford RS with track-tuned suspension become a less ideal first vehicle.

You then judge them differently because they appeal to a different crowd looking to get their first cars.

If you love the faster Focus ST (EcoBoost engine) or the even-speedier Focus RS (EcoBoost Turbo), you’ll need to be confident of being a responsible driver to avoid getting into trouble.

The (unnecessary) boost in vehicle performance can breed bad habits in young drivers.

#8 Is a Ford Fusion (or Mondeo) a Good First Car?

The Ford Fusion went out of production in 2020, so used Fusions are your only choice if you wish to buy one as your first car.

It is a midsize sedan and typically won’t make an ideal first vehicle for young drivers.

But if the size meets your needs, a Ford Fusion (or Ford Mondeo in the EU) classes as an average first car:

  • Impeccable safety ratings – full marks in the IIHS and NHTSA crash tests.
  • Respectable fuel economy for a midsize car – 23 mpg combined on the 2.0L engine, 27 mpg combined on the 1.5L variant, or 103 mpg-equivalent combined on the electric+gas hybrid.
  • Above-average reliability – above 80 out of 100 on the JD Power score is good.
  • Inexpensive to insure – $300 or less annually for a teenager.
  • Quiet and comfortable ride – not crucial for a first car, but nice to have.

The Ford Fusion delivers if you need peace of mind that your first car can protect you well in an accident and is reasonably thrifty on fuel for a midsize sedan.

However, there are drawbacks you should note about the Fusion:

  • Relatively expensive to maintain – it costs $581 per year to maintain; the average for midsize sedans is $526.
  • Average visibility – its sleek styling means compromised outward visibility; the thick roof pillars and short rear windows do not help.
  • Its dimensions – a midsize sedan will be tough to maneuver and park for inexperienced teenage drivers.

But plenty of choices deliver on those fronts, plus better performances in other aspects.

Which Fusion Year Is Best as First Cars?

Most Ford Fusion model years score well in crash tests, but which is more reliable and, thus, the better first car?

Table Guide:

  • Safety (IIHS): 1 (poor) to 4 (good); IIHS tests average.
  • Safety (NHTSA): 1 (poor) to 5 (safest); NHTSA overall.
  • Fuel Economy: mpg city/highway/combined (base model).
  • Reliability: /100; higher = fewer problems (JD Power).
Model YearSafety (IIHS)Safety (NHTSA)Fuel Econ.Reliability
2020 Fusion4/45/523/34/2781/100
2019 Fusion4/45/523/34/2783/100
2018 Fusion4/45/523/34/2783/100
2017 Fusion4/45/523/34/2782/100
2016 Fusion3.8/45/525/36/2983/100
2015 Fusion3.8/45/525/36/2977/100
2014 Fusion3.8/45/523/35/2778/100
2013 Fusion3.8/45/523/35/2773/100
Ford Fusion model years comparison.

The final Fusion model year was 2020, but the design remained largely unchanged from its 2013 debut.

When buying a used Fusion, opt for the 2016 model year or newer as they showed remarkable consistency in reliability.

Further, the 2017 Fusion or newer demonstrated impeccable safety in crash tests.

If you want the most fuel-efficient Fusion Hybrid, choose the 2019 and 2020 model years; you save more on gas than the earlier Fusion Hybrids.

The model years to avoid are the 2013 and 2014 Ford Fusion, as they had significantly more recalls than other model years, indicating problematic vehicles.

Fusion Compared with Similar Vehicles

If you need a midsize sedan’s cabin room in your first car, it’s worth checking out a few rival sedans.

Let’s see how the Ford Fusion (or Ford Mondeo in the EU market) compares with its direct competitors.

Table Guide:

  • Fuel Economy: mpg city/highway/combined (base model).
  • Reliability: /100; higher = fewer problems (JD Power).
  • Maintenance Costs: per year avg. (RepairPal).
  • Safety (IIHS): 1 (poor) to 4 (good); IIHS tests average.
  • Safety (NHTSA): 1 (poor) to 5 (safest); NHTSA overall.
  • Visibility: excellent, good, average, poor.
 Fuel Econ.ReliabilityMaint. CostsSafety (IIHS)Safety (NHTSA)Visibility
Ford Fusion23/34/2781/100$5814/45/5Average
Kia Optima25/35/2982/100$4714/45/5Good
Nissan Altima28/39/3282/100$4834/45/5Excellent
Mazda Mazda626/35/2982/100$4814/45/5Good
Ford Fusion comparison with similar vehicles.

If you want a midsize car as your first car, the Kia Optima, Nissan Altima, and Mazda6 are worthy alternatives due to their excellent gas mileage.

They are also cheaper to maintain than the Ford Fusion.

If you want the best outward visibility – crucial for new drivers – the Nissan Altima offers some of the best views out the front of any midsize sedan.

The slim roof pillars and large window areas on all sides helped tremendously.

#9 Is a Ford Flex a Good First Car?

2019 was the final production year for the Ford Flex.

The Ford Flex is a large three-row SUV, and almost everything that results from its size makes it a poor choice for a first car:

  • Poor fuel economy – 19 mpg combined is far from what drivers with a limited gas budget need.
  • The engine is too powerful – a V6 or turbocharged engine isn’t ideal when you’re learning to drive safely.
  • Its large dimensions – a smaller sedan or compact SUV will be easier to drive and park.
  • Costly maintenance – $713 per year is expensive by any standard.
  • Limited driver safety aids – options are available only on the more expensive trim.

If you have particular reasons to get a Ford Flex and believe in your skills to handle such a large vehicle, it’s hard to argue against getting one.

Its excellent outward visibility and roomy interior are the only positives.

Almost every drawback of the Ford Flex points towards staying away from it when shopping for your first car.

#10 Is a Ford KA a Good First Car?

The Ford KA is available only in the UK and EU but is no longer in production.

If you can find a used Ford KA in reasonably good conditions, it is a good and cheap first car for a teenager’s daily commute.

It is an excellent stop-gap option as you can learn the basics of driving and vehicle upkeep inexpensively before upgrading to a more-permanent second car.

Plentiful parts also mean the KA is cheap to maintain.

49 mpg combined fuel economy is another reason the KA is popular among teenage drivers.

However, if you want a vehicle with the highest safety credentials and wish to keep it for many years, you should reconsider getting the Ford KA as your first car:

  • It’s a discontinued model, and it’s very old – you are less likely to find one in acceptable conditions.
  • Not a safe car – the Ford KA’s 4-star lags behind newer city cars.
  • Disappointing customer satisfaction – #19 out of 23 in CarBuyer UK’s Driver Power 2017 survey.

Be mindful that the Ford KA received its mediocre safety ratings before the Euro NCAP test criteria got tougher in 2009.

#11 Is a Ford Mustang a Good First Car?

The Mustang is an American icon popular among new and experienced drivers.

The various variants’ engines are powerful, and the Mustang is capable of stirring performance at low-enough prices that the average shopper can afford.

Its status as a sports or muscle car is debatable, but the Ford Mustang’s performance car capabilities make it a poor choice for a first car:

  • Too fast for a beginner – any Mustang variant would have more speed than any young driver needs or can handle responsibly.
  • The RWD drivetrain – rear-wheel-drive cars are harder to learn and manage for most new drivers. An RWD vehicle tends to fishtail in the snow and slippery surfaces.
  • Costly maintenance – it costs more than $700 a year to maintain, which in some cases, is double the amount a regular sedan would cost.
  • Expensive to insure – teenagers and powerful cars do not combine well for insurance premiums.
  • Middling to poor gas mileage – low-20s to below 20 mpg combined, depending on powertrain spec.

The Ford Mustang First Car post discusses the pros and cons in greater detail.

Major repairs are uncommon for Mustangs, so the high yearly maintenance costs point to expensive parts.

On the flip side, the Mustang performs reasonably well as a daily driver without compromising visibility and drivability.

The above-80 reliability scores on JD Power across its model years also mean it is dependable.

If you can afford one and are skilled and responsible enough to handle the excess power, getting a Mustang as a first car may work.

After all, if you have your heart set on a Mustang, dissuasion is probably futile.

#12 Is a Ford Ranger a Good First Car?

The Ford Ranger is a midsize pickup truck and a hot favorite among American drivers.

Good first cars are typically compact, frugal on fuel, and cheap to maintain; a Ford Ranger is anything but.

Most first-time vehicle owners need a maneuverable daily driver that is inexpensive to operate, making the Ford Ranger a less-than-ideal first car:

  • Large for inexperienced drivers – classed midsize, but the actual dimensions border a full-size truck. It is the opposite of a nimble car.
  • Middling fuel economy – 23 mpg combined is poor when small sedans can achieve north of 30 or 40 mpg.
  • Average safety ratings – the Ranger is less safe than newer sedans, judging by its less-than-stellar IIHS and NHTSA ratings.
  • Expensive yearly maintenance – $615 is costly when midsize trucks average $548 and cheap-to-maintain sedans cost $400 or less.
  • Expensive insurance – from $320 to $570 for a teenager, depending on model year.
  • Poor ride quality – you need a more comfortable vehicle for daily driving.

However, if you must get a truck for practical needs, a Ford Ranger can work as a first vehicle:

  • Rocksolid reliability – the consistent 80+ score (/100) on JD Power is a testament to the Ranger’s dependability.
  • Good outward visibility – helped by its slim windshield pillars and tall windows.
  • Solid towing capacity – rated for 3,500 lbs.

You have the option for a four-wheel-drive system for a safer ride on slippery roads, but it costs more.

Additionally, the Ford Ranger retains value well.

Over 5-year ownership, a brand-new Ranger depreciates an average of 39%; most vehicles fall within the 40% to 60% bracket.

#13 Is a Ford F-150 (or Raptor) a Good First Car?

The Raptor is the more-expensive trim of the standard Ford F-150 with added engine horsepower and more aggressive body construction for off-roading.

Most of the Ford F-150’s credentials point towards dissuading teenagers from choosing it as their first car, except for a few positives:

  • Excessive torque – the F-150 is a hugely capable towing machine, but its best-in-class torque is beyond most young drivers’ ability to handle responsibly on pavements.
  • The size – the F-150 is a huge truck, which makes city driving and parking successfully a considerable challenge.
  • 4WD system – beneficial when driving in poor weather conditions, but a teenager does not need such an expensive drivetrain to learn the basics of driving.
  • Average gas mileage – 22 mpg combined is respectable for large trucks; less so when compared to regular daily drivers.
  • Excellent visibility – the high seating position, plus large windows and narrow roof pillars, aid outward visibility.
  • Affordable insurance – around $300 or less on most model years for teenagers.
  • Reasonable maintenance costs – $788 per year is below-average for large trucks.
  • Popular among thieves – Ford pickups consistently rank among the top targets for thieves.

Repairs on the Ford F-150 are infrequent but tend to be more expensive than average.

Still, setting aside close to $800 annually for maintenance alone is a stretch when the average for most other vehicles is $652.

If the base Ford F-150 isn’t ideal for a first car, the more powerful and aggressive Ford Raptor should be off-limits for an inexperienced teenage driver.

However, not every teenager uses the car purely for daily commute between the house and college.

If you need a vehicle with excellent towing capabilities and go off-roading on weekends, the Ford Raptor can be a reasonable choice – if you can afford the price tag.

Further, the F-150 has topnotch reliability and is rock-solid in the IIHS and NHTSA crash tests.

But for all ordinary intents for a first car, avoid large trucks.

#14 Is a Ford Taurus a Good First Car?

The Ford Taurus is a full-size sedan and saw its final production in 2019.

A discontinued large sedan like the Ford Taurus is a poor choice for a first car:

  • Awful fuel economy – 19 mpg combined is far from acceptable in today’s standard.
  • Poor reliability – it consistently scored below 80 out of 100 in JD Power ratings across most model years.
  • Its large dimensions – you want a smaller vehicle to zip around town that is equally easy to park.
  • Costly maintenance – $697 annually according to RepairPal; the average for full-size cars is $590.
  • Expensive insurance – around $450 a month for a teenager; may cost more depending on model year.

It may have good safety ratings – so do most other vehicles in the segment – but judging by most practical considerations, a Ford Taurus cannot pass for a first car.

If you want a large Ford sedan for your first car, the Ford Fusion will make a better choice.

Comparison: Best Ford for a First Car

See the table below on how the various Ford models compare in the areas that matter for a first vehicle.

Table Guide:

  • Safety (IIHS): 1 (poor) to 4 (good); IIHS tests average.
  • Safety (NHTSA): 1 (poor) to 5 (safest); NHTSA overall.
  • Visibility: excellent, good, average, poor.
  • Fuel Economy: mpg city/highway/combined (base model).
  • Reliability: /100; higher = fewer problems (JD Power).
  • Maintenance Costs: per year avg. (RepairPal).
Safety (IIHS)Safety (NHTSA)VisibilityFuel Econ.ReliabilityMaint. Costs
Crown Vic2.6/4NAGood16/24/19NA$1,081
Ford models comparison.

If you want good gas mileage in a subcompact car, the Fiesta and Focus are the best Fords.

If you want maximum fuel efficiency in a Ford, opt for the Escape Hybrid or Fusion Hybrid – both can get you over 100mpg-equivalent.

Overall, the Ford Escape is the best Ford for a first car because:

  • It has maximum crash test ratings,
  • It has good gas mileage,
  • It is reliable, and
  • It is a compact SUV, providing a high seating position and good outward visibility.

Avoid the Crown Vic as a first car – it’s no longer a safe car by today’s standard, and it’s getting very costly to maintain.

Which Ford Depreciates the Least?

The 5-year depreciation values below assume a brand-new vehicle and an annual driving distance of 13,500 miles (the average for American drivers).

Model5-yr depreciation
Crown VicNA
Value depreciation among Ford models.

The Ford Ranger and Ford F-150 are the best at holding their value, which explains why they are some of America’s favorite pickup trucks.

Alternative Makes to Ford for a Teenager’s First Car

Ford ranked #18 out of 28 in Consumer Reports’ 2021 reliability ranking.

Unless you feel that owning a Ford pickup is a must, you have many choices available in the competitive compact and subcompact car segments.

These are some of the more reliable automotive brands you can consider:

  1. Honda – Honda Fit (subcompact car); Civic (compact car); CRV (compact SUV).
  2. Toyota – Toyota Yaris (subcompact car); RAV4 (compact SUV).
  3. Mazda – CX-3 (subcompact SUV); CX-5 (compact SUV).
  4. Volkswagen – Golf, Jetta.
  5. MINI – Mini Cooper.

Always do your research, inspect, and test drive before buying.