Looking to buy your first car? Don't practice false economy by getting a "junker."
You may be tempted to buy an older, smaller car for seemingly practical reasons: older cars have lower price tags, and smaller cars get better mileage, costing less for gas. But there's a serious downside: older cars have fewer safety features, and smaller cars generally allow more-severe injuries.
A good compromise would be to buy a reliable three- or four-year-old car that fared well in crash tests. Earlier this year, Consumer Reports published an article recommending cars appropriate for young drivers. Check out Consumer Reports' findings -- there are more than 30 models to choose from.