5 Best First-Time Vehicles to Invest In

Car and truck prices are dropping after record-high hikes during the COVID-19 pandemic. The global supply chain has mostly unsnarled itself, and workers are back on assembly lines to fill dealership lots with this year’s hot merchandise. But buying a new vehicle and driving one are two different things, especially in today’s economy. You also need to factor in the cost of insurance, vehicle depreciation if you plan to sell, fuel and repairs. 

According to CNBC, the biggest mistake first-time vehicle buyers make is budgeting around their monthly car payments instead of the true cost of ownership (TCO). Experts recommend using Edmund’s TCO calculator to better understand how much car or truck you can afford. Adding a warranty will help you reduce the TCO during the first few years, but new vehicles still need regular maintenance. Once you’re pre-approved for an auto loan and have done all the necessary calculations, shop for the best first-time vehicles to make the most of this investment. 

Best First-Time Diesel Vehicles

Diesel is more efficient than gasoline even though it costs slightly more at the pump. These engines also last up to a million miles or more, far longer than the average gas-powered car. They also deliver more horsepower and torque for hauling heavy loads. The oil in the diesel engine lubricates various components while pressurizing the fuel in the fuel injectors, which spray the fuel as a fine mist for faster burn times and better efficiency. The process repeats thousands of times per second using sensors that monitor the timing and pressure of the fuel, including the injection control pressure (ICP) sensor which is why it’s important to understand what is the ICP sensor. 

Electrical errors, clogs and leaks will damage the fuel system, leading to expensive repairs while reducing the vehicle’s mpg rating. Replace the fuel injectors and sensors every 100,000 to 150,000 miles to squeeze the most out of every gallon. Fixing issues and replacing your fluids at the recommended intervals prevents minor problems from becoming costly headaches. Keep your new vehicle running like new with replacement diesel parts. If you need the extra power and want a vehicle that will last for decades with a high resale value, go with one of these diesel trucks to tackle any job like a pro:

Ford Super-Duty F-250/350

The F-Series has long been the country’s best-selling truck. Both the F-250 and 350 are excellent options for first-time diesel buyers. According to the latest starting market average, the 2024 models are priced at $44,754 and $47,640, respectively. The company has made minor upgrades over the last decade, but the 6.7L Powerstroke engine is a great choice regardless of the model year as long as it’s in good condition. 

The series is known for its comfort, practicality and reliability. No frivolous bells or whistles here, just well-made machines. The F-350 has a towing capacity of 32,500 pounds and a larger maximum payload. If you plan on doing some serious hauling, the F-350 can be worth the money, but it’s not as easy to drive on the highway and has a lower mpg rating than the F-250. 

Ordfordville, Wisconsin / USA - February 17, 2019: 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD LTZ Midnight Edition Duramax  after a long winter drive on a very stormy day.

2024 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD

Chevy’s diesel pickup is giving the F-Series a run for its money by launching at a similar price point. It’s powered by the Duramax Turbo-Diesel V8 and can tow slightly more than the F-250, but the ride isn’t as comfortable. If you don’t mind a little extra rumbling behind the wheel, it’s a great way to explore the less-beaten path.

Best First-Time Gas Vehicles 

Gas-powered vehicles have shorter life spans and tend to break down more easily than diesel, but they usually cost $10,000 to $15,000 less, which helps lower your monthly car payment. They’re suited for commuting, running errands and moving people from one place to another. 

2023 Acura Integra

With a suggested retail price of $31,300, the Acura Integra is an affordable entry-level car that’s surprisingly fun to drive. The four-year/50,000-mile and six-year/70,000-mile warranties last longer than the company’s rivals, so you don’t have to worry about paying your insurance’s high deductible. It’s not luxurious by any standards, but getting up to 37 mpg on the highway will make you feel like a celebrity.  

Detroit, Michigan, USA - September 20, 2022: Acura has reintroduced Integra in North America Automotive Market. All New 2023 Acura Integra started its production on May 2022.

2023 Hyundai Tucson

Starting at around $26,900, the Hyundai Tucson is a family SUV that won’t break your budget. U.S. News recently awarded it Best Compact SUV for the Money. It offers all the usual safety features, including pedestrian and cyclist warnings for urban living and an 8-inch touchscreen for seamlessly navigating your surroundings and connecting your mobile electronics. 

2023 Subaru BRZ

If you want your first car to turn heads and don’t have friends or family to cart around, go with the Subaru BRZ for a cool $28,595 or more. The car sacrifices comfort for performance with fast acceleration times and a bumpy suspension, but it handles like a dream. Just don’t expect to fit anyone in the backseat. 

From stylish to spacious, these first-time cars and trucks will accommodate any lifestyle and budget. Look for them at your local dealership to find a great vehicle that will serve you well for years.