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.

Ford Escape
If you're looking for an SUV:
Ford Escape
Base prices: $18,500 to $23,600

Engine and transmission: 153 horsepower, 2.3-liter, 4-cylinder engine or 3.0-liter, 200 horsepower V-6; 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel or front-wheel drive

Also available as a gas/electric hybrid vehicle. Prices start at about $25,000. Hybrid fuel economy is 34/30 with FWD.

Fuel economy: 22 mpg city, 28 highway with 4-cylinder, manual transmission, FWD; 17/22 with V-6, automatic, AWD

The Escape was already a decent small SUV before it was redesigned for the 2008 model year.

Now it has a more controlled ride and more nimble handing. Inside and out, the new Escape looks sophisticated and masculine.

It retains a traditional boxy shape that gives it a nice roomy feel inside. While the interior design is also outstanding, some cut-rate materials detract from the effect.

Overall, the Escape is a wonderful crossover SUV for those who actually like SUVs.










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