10 great first cars

With prices under $25,000 (some way under) these cars make excellent choices for those shopping for their first new set of wheels.

Saturn Aura
If you're looking for a midsized sedan:
Saturn Aura
Base prices: $20,000 to $24,000

Engine and transmission: 224 horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 with 4-speed automatic or 252 horpsepower, 3.6-liter V6 with 6-speed automatic.

Also available in hybrid version with 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder 164 horsepower engine with electric motor assist for about $22,000.

Fuel economy: 20 mpg city, 30 highway, 24 combined with 3.5-liter engine; 20/28/23 with 3.6-liter; 28/35/30 with hybrid drivetrain.

The Aura doesn't look or drive like any Saturn - or any GM car, for that matter - you've tried before.

In the uplevel XR version, the Aura's V6 engine and 6-speed transmission deliver performance you'd expect from a European sedan costing much more. (The Aura is sold in Europe as an Opel.)

The interior is as stylish as the exterior. If you want to nitpick, there are some cheap plastics here and there. But there's real attention to detail in the Aura's warm and inviting cabin.

The Green Line version has a "mild hybrid" system. That means the car won't drive under purely electric power, but it costs less than other hybrid systems and doesn't requires bulky battery packs that take away trunk space.










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