Honda’s Civic has an undeniable reputation for safety; it passes crash tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (our preferred crash-test organization) with the organization’s highest rating, Good, in front, side and rear collisions.
An entry-level Civic coupe costs $14,810, while the sedan is $15,010. Both include standard safety features like antilock brakes and six airbags, including front, side-impact and side-curtain inflatable restraints.
We voted the 2008 Civic Best Car for First-Time Drivers in Cars.com’s 2008 Lifestyle Awards:
“Whether you're a concerned parent or a sensible young person looking for a first car, the Civic can't be beat. It's safe, reliable, gets good mileage, retains its value and has a lot of standard features. Heck, even if you're slightly less responsible, the Civic has sporty handling and a sharp-looking exterior in coupe and sedan models. The interior is futuristic and well-made, and the doors shut with a solid thunk. The Civic is one of the best cars on the market for any driver; first-timers certainly won't go wrong with it.”
We also polled editors on the Cars.com review staff, and here’s what they had to say:
I just reviewed the 2008 Civic and it has held up really well against the newer competition. It’s still my top pick for a new driver.
However, if I had to get something for my own kid I might go with the more radical Scion xB so I could steal some seat time. Or make him do Home Depot runs. Of course he’ll have to wait 16 years until this happens, but still…
I’d recommend something larger than a compact car but not an SUV. Something like a Honda Accord of Chevrolet Malibu LT would fit the bill. These two come standard with important safety features like a stability system and side curtain airbags but enclose passengers in more steel than a compact car. This provides more separation between the passenger compartment and another car in the event of a collision.
The Civic is really a solid choice. It’s fun to drive, fuel-efficient and attractive, and the level of craftsmanship blows a lot of other cars out of the water. Crash-test and reliability ratings are good, though stability control is only offered in the Si trim, which I wouldn’t recommend for a first-time driver.
Though it doesn’t blow me away like the Civic, the new Corolla is a solid car. Six airbags and ABS are standard, and reliability will probably be good. Stability control is optional.
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