Is Ford a Good First Car? An In-Depth Guide for New Drivers

Buying your first car is an exciting milestone! As a new driver, you want a reliable vehicle that fits your budget and lifestyle. If you’ve been wondering, “Is Ford a good first car?”, this comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know.

What Makes a Good First Car?

When choosing your first car, there are a few key factors to consider:

  • Affordability – As a new driver, you’ll want a car with a low purchase price and affordable insurance/maintenance costs. Setting a realistic budget is important.
  • Reliability – Look for used cars with a solid reputation for few mechanical issues. You don’t want constant breakdowns or costly repairs.
  • Safety features – Cars with airbags, ABS brakes, and traction control will give you peace of mind as a beginner driver.
  • Fuel efficiency – Good gas mileage will save you money, especially if you drive frequently. Look for fuel-efficient models. 
  • Easy handling – Cars that are easy to maneuver with responsive steering and acceleration suit new drivers best. Test drive different models. 
  • Practicality – Choose a car that meets your needs whether it’s commuting, carrying passengers, road trips, etc. Match the car to your lifestyle.

Why Consider a Ford as Your First Car?

Ford offers several models that can make excellent first cars due to:

1. Affordability of Ford Cars

Many Ford vehicles have affordable base models perfect for new drivers on a budget:

  • Ford Fiesta – Starts around $15,000 used. Good gas mileage up to 40 mpg highway. Low insurance rates.
  • Ford Focus – Available used for $12,000 and up. Up to 38 mpg highway fuel efficiency helps save on gas costs. 
  • Ford Fusion – Used models as low as $10,000. Spacious sedan with up to 26 mpg combined.
  • Ford EcoSport – Compact SUV with models under $20,000. Decent fuel economy and cargo space.

2. Reliability of Ford Cars

While not topping rankings, Ford vehicles like the Fusion, Escape, and Explorer have proven fairly reliable choices with routine maintenance. The Focus and Fiesta have had some transmission issues to be aware of. Overall, Fords aren’t the most reliable but not the worst either. Parts are affordable and widely accessible.

3. Safety Features in Ford Cars

Many Ford vehicles come equipped with key safety tech:

  • Airbags – Dual front, front side, and side curtain airbags available.
  • ABS brakes – Prevents wheel lock-up so you can still steer while braking hard. 
  • Traction control – Reduces wheel spin and improves stability.
  • Automatic emergency braking – Can apply the brakes if a collision is imminent. 
  • Lane keeping assist – Helps prevent drifting out of your lane.

These features are especially valuable for new drivers learning proper braking and vehicle control.

4. Fuel Efficiency of Ford Cars

While not the top of fuel efficiency rankings, popular Ford models offer decent gas mileage:

  • Ford Fiesta – Up to 40 mpg highway fuel economy.
  • Ford Focus – Up to 38 mpg highway with automatic transmission. 
  • Ford Fusion – Up to 26 mpg city/36 mpg highway.
  • Ford Escape – Up to 30 mpg highway for front-wheel drive models.

This gas mileage can provide new drivers significant savings at the pump. Even compact SUVs like the Escape offer respectable fuel efficiency.

5. Availability of Spare Parts for Ford Cars

Ford’s popularity makes their spare parts widely available and affordably priced. This makes maintenance and repairs accessible for new drivers. Dealerships across the country carry Ford components, and auto parts stores stock common maintenance items.

Overall, Ford offers an appealing mix of affordability, available safety tech, reasonable fuel economy, and accessible spare parts. For new drivers seeking a reliable used car, Ford checks many of the right boxes.

These Ford models frequently top the list for new drivers:

1. Ford Fiesta

Overview: Subcompact sedan or hatchback, front-wheel drive.

Purchase price: Used models from $10,000.

MPG: Up to 40 mpg highway/31 mpg city.

Safety features: 7 airbags standard, available blind spot monitoring. 

Why it’s great: Affordable, agile handling, great gas mileage for small commute. Hatchback provides cargo space. Low insurance rates.

Considerations: Limited rear legroom, basic interior amenities. Some reported transmission issues. 

2. Ford Focus

Overview: Compact car, front-wheel drive.

Purchase price: Used from $12,000.

MPG: Up to 38 mpg highway/27 mpg city.

Safety features: 10 airbags standard, rearview camera available.

Why it’s great: Fun driving dynamics, fuel efficient, ample tech features available. Hatchback body style option.

Considerations: Cramped rear seats, some past transmission problems to be aware of. Overall, Ford Focus is a good used car.

3. Ford Escape

Overview: Compact SUV, front-wheel drive or AWD. 

Purchase price: Used from $15,000.

MPG: 30 mpg highway/23 mpg city for FWD.

Safety features: 6 airbags standard, available blindspot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert.

Why it’s great: Offers SUV height with fuel economy close to a sedan. Affordable, especially used. Good cargo and passenger room. Available AWD provides traction.

Considerations: Less nimble handling than a sedan. Base models have limited features.

4. Ford Fusion

Overview: Mid-size sedan, front-wheel drive.

Purchase price: Used starting around $10,000.

MPG: 36 mpg highway/23 mpg city.

Safety features: 8 airbags standard, available blind spot information system. 

Why it’s great: Roomy interior and trunk, composed ride and handling, excellent value used. Refined cabin available.

Considerations: Dated exterior and interior design. Mediocre reliability ratings.

Pros and Cons of Choosing a Ford as Your First Car


  • Affordable pricing, especially buying 1-3 years used
  • Decent gas mileage across lineup
  • Safety tech available on most models 
  • Good selection of cars and small SUVs
  • Easy handling for new drivers
  • Wide availability of spare parts

Potential Cons

  • Not the most reliable cars according to surveys
  • Some models have cramped rear seats 
  • Dated interior on older models 
  • Not as nimble handling on SUVs
  • Low predicted resale value

What Do Experts Say About Choosing a Ford as Your First Car?

Car and Driver: “For a first car, used Fords are an affordable starting point. Even base models come equipped with modern safety features new drivers need.”

Edmunds: “The Ford Fusion has an approachable price, is easy to drive, and gets decent fuel economy. Just be aware of potential reliability issues down the road.”

Consumer Reports: “We recommend the Ford Focus as a practical first car option. Go for a hatchback with an automatic transmission for maximum ease of driving.” “For parents looking at safe, user-friendly cars for teens, the Escape is one of the most affordable compact SUVs. Just opt for all-wheel drive for added wet weather traction.”

Kelly Blue Book: “A lightly used Ford Fiesta should top any new driver’s short list. Low cost, excellent fuel economy, and nimble handling make it a great way to learn the ropes of car ownership.”

In general, experts tend to agree Ford models can be practical first car choices thanks to affordability, ample safety equipment, reasonable gas mileage, and relatively simple handling. Performing diligent research and choosing later model years is advised.

How to Choose the Right Model If You Decide on a Ford as Your First Car

If you’ve determined a used Ford is the right first car for your budget and needs, here are some tips for selecting the best model:

Browse inventory online – Search used Ford listings on sites like Autotrader and to get an idea of pricing and options in your area.

Set a realistic budget – Include insurance, gas, maintenance and any monthly payments in your budget. Shop below your max price.

Focus on 2015+ models – Choose later model years for the most up-to-date safety equipment and tech features.

Compare trim levels – Higher trim Fords add desirable features like Bluetooth and blindspot monitoring while keeping cost relatively low.

Get a mechanic’s inspection – Have any used Ford checked by an independent mechanic before purchasing. Their expert eye can identify issues.

Obtain vehicle history – Order a vehicle history report using the VIN to check for accidents, repairs, and number of previous owners.

Test drive top choices – Test driving helps you evaluate power, handling, comfort and visibility. Bring someone experienced along.

Taking the time to research and make an informed choice increases your odds of being happy with your first car. Ford offers many solid options for new drivers ready to hit the road!

Tips for Maintaining Your First Car if It’s a Ford

Once you’ve chosen your Ford, keeping up on basic maintenance is key to avoiding major repairs down the road:

Follow the maintenance schedule – Refer to your owner’s manual and follow the recommended service schedule. 

Learn to check fluids – Regularly check oil, brake fluid, transmission fluid and coolant levels yourself. Top off when low.

Replace filters and spark plugs – Air, oil and cabin filters along with spark plugs need replacement per the manual.

Inspect belts and hoses – Have belts and hoses periodically inspected for cracking/wear and replace if needed.

Rotate tires – Rotate tires every 6,000-8,000 miles to maximize tread life. 

Address strange noises – Don’t ignore odd engine or brake noises. Have them diagnosed promptly.

Wash regularly – Frequent washing removes corrosive salt, bird droppings, sap, and road grime.

Use quality fluids – Buy factory recommended oils and fluids. Avoid cheap or DIY fluid flushes.

Taking good care of your first car from the start helps avoid expensive repairs and ensures you get the most mileage out of your investment. Establish smart maintenance habits right off the bat as a new driver.


  • Ford cars and SUVs can make practical first vehicles due to affordability, available safety features and reasonable gas mileage.
  • Popular starter Ford models include the Fiesta, Focus, Fusion and Escape, all available used for under $20,000.
  • Focus on 2015+ models to get the most current tech. Inspect used Fords thoroughly before purchasing. 
  • While not the most reliable, Fords offer accessible parts and simple DIY repairs.
  • Stick to factory maintenance schedules and fix minor issues promptly to extend your first car’s lifespan.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is a Ford or Toyota better for a first car?

A: Toyota cars have a better reliability reputation, but used Ford models offer comparable safety tech and features for significantly less cost. Toyota resale values are also higher. For affordability, Ford edges out Toyota for many first car buyers.

Q: How many miles is too much for a used Ford first car?

A: Shoot for under 100k miles if possible. 150k miles or less is still acceptable with proper maintenance, but higher mileage Ford models are more prone to expensive repairs.

Q: Which Ford model has the lowest insurance rates?

A: The Ford Fiesta consistently has the cheapest insurance rates among Ford vehicles. Other affordable models to insure include the Focus, Fusion and EcoSport.

Q: Are Fords expensive to repair and maintain?

A: Not usually. Ford parts are readily available and tend to be reasonably priced. Labor costs are average. Fords aren’t the cheapest vehicles to repair but are far from the most expensive.

Q: What gas mileage can I expect from a Ford?

A: You can expect 17-30 mpg combined for most Fords. Smaller cars like the Focus and Fiesta get up to 40 mpg highway. Hybrid models such as the Fusion Hybrid are most fuel efficient at over 40 mpg combined.