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Most popular first cars and what people look for

According to research and statistics, it seems they are making pretty sensible buying decisions.

In a national survey of young drivers, 93 per cent rated value for money as an important factor when buying a car, followed by safety and security (85 per cent).

More than half (52 per cent) of the 1053 drivers aged 18-25 years polled in the Just Car Insurance survey rated environmental friendliness as a key factor.

Items such as brand, colour and how the vehicle looks to others rated lower on the scale.

It comes as no surprise that the most popular car for young drivers is the Holden Commodore.

Except for a couple of months this year and last year during high petrol prices, the Commodore has also been the biggest-selling car over the past 10 years.

That very fact means there are a lot out there and that reduces second-hand prices, making them more affordable and attractive to first-car buyers.

Commodores make up about 8 per cent of the 32,000 vehicles registered for road service under the RACQ's free2go youth membership program.

Second favourite is also no surprise. The Toyota Corolla, which was the car that pipped the Commodore for sales and is consistently the second-highest seller, accounts for 6.25 per cent for free2go members.

Next were the Ford Laser at 5 per cent and Hyundai Excel at 4.75 per cent.

The financial realities of first car ownership is reflected in the average ages of those vehicles: an average 12.1 years old for the Commodore, 14.8 years for the Corolla, 15.7 for the Laser and 9.2 for the Excel.

The average age of the top 40 models driven by free2go members is 12.4 years, with the Toyota Corona — number 20 on the list — soldiering on at an average 21.4 years.

The free2go program offers free RACQ membership for three years to all Queensland residents from the age of 17 or school year 12.

Roadside assistance on any vehicle being driven by a free2go member is included in the first year. In the second and third years, members can opt to nominate a vehicle for road service at half the full RACQ membership fee; or simply maintain access to all other standard RACQ services at no charge.

While sensible factors are top-rating among young people in the Just Car Insurance survey, car image still plays a major role with 27 per cent believing you can tell what somebody is like by the car they drive.

The poll also found 30 per cent saying they are more likely to take notice of somebody who has an expensive car.

However, 38 per cent claim the look of the car doesn't matter — it only needs to get them from A to B.

Sex appeal is also important with 18 per cent more attracted to someone who drives a nice car and 40 per cent claiming a nice car helps attract the opposite sex.

Some of the results differed between the sexes and overall the guys were more interested in vehicle style and the impression it gives: 57 per cent rated how it looks to others as important versus 40 per cent young women; 91 per cent of women were more interested in safety and security compared with 79 per cent of men.

Contrary to the perception that youth drive modified vehicles, 72 per cent drive standard vehicles without modifications.

Almost two-thirds (62 per cent) believe young drivers are unfairly criticised for their driving.

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