Skip to main content

What Milestones in Life Are Tied to New Vehicles?

5 minute read

Devon Taylor

By Devon Taylor

Cars aren’t simply a mode of transportation that gets you from point A to point B. Cars can define a generation — such as the muscle cars of the 1960s — or mark the distinct milestones that many people experience during their lives. From your first car in your teens to your last vehicle in your golden years, different cars are suited to various stages of life and the changing needs of you and your family.

No matter what stage of life you are in, the following list can help you decide which type of vehicle will suit your current needs. Plus, it can give you an idea of how those needs may change as you get older.

20s – College Students and New Graduates

For most people, their early 20s is when they purchase their first car. College-aged kids are fresh off their newfound independence. As such, many are looking for a vehicle that will let them spread their wings and have a little fun. However, with that independence comes the realities of monthly bills and financial responsibilities.

When looking for a car in your 20s, you should find something affordable and reliable. You likely won’t need much space for extra passengers or for hauling large amounts of goods at this age. Therefore, a compact car or economical two-seater may be the best option for you.

2021 Mazda CX-30

Price: $30,050

  • Subcompact design with ample rear storage.
  • Comes with an 8.8-inch infotainment display and a Wi-Fi hotspot
  • All-wheel drive for superior handling.

2011 Ford Fiesta

Price: $5,066 to $6,048

  • Small profile for easy parking and maneuverability.
  • The four-door model allows for multiple passengers.
  • Great fuel economy with 28 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway.

2017 Toyota Corolla

Price: $17,999

  • Comes with excellent safety features, including pedestrian detection and automatic high beams.
  • Roomy and comfortable interior.

2015 Kia Sportage

Price: $15,678 to $18,764

  • Sporty performance with 182 horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine.
  • Includes a rear camera and five-inch dashboard touchscreen.

30s – Young Professionals and New Couples

As drivers enter the workforce and become young professionals, their disposable income naturally increases. At this time of life, not only is your car a reflection of your personality but is also a symbol of your success. Car payments are less of a concern as you earn more money than during your college years, so you can afford to choose a more upscale model.

When seeking out a new car in your 30s, consider a model that is sporty while being sleek and elegant. Focus on performance and luxury styling, and don’t worry so much about how practical it is.

2021 Lexus ES 350

Price: $40,000

  • Smooth, comfortable ride.
  • Stylish, modern exterior with sleek front-end design and LED headlights.
  • Can reach a top speed of 131 mph.

2022 Honda Civic EX

Price: $25,350

  • Updated cabin featuring dual-zone climate control and heated front seats.
  • Superior performance with a turbocharged 180-hp four-cylinder engine.

2022 Volkswagen Golf R

Price: $43,645

  • Includes six-speed manual transmission and all-wheel drive.
  • Comfortable and spacious interior.
  • The sporty handling and a 200-hp turbocharged engine make it fun to drive.

2022 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk

Price: $32,290

  • Superior handling due to the four-wheel drive and 18-inch wheels.
  • Comes with parallel and perpendicular parking-assist.
  • Infotainment system includes 8.4-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, and an internal navigation system.
Standret / Shutterstock

Late 30s to Mid 40s – Parents and Growing Families

As drivers move into the married stage of life and start to have children, their car needs dramatically change. Starting a family means more seats, extra storage space, and fuel economy for tighter household budgets.

Safety is also the primary concern during this age range because you are no longer just transporting yourself; you’re responsible for the other people in your vehicle. Furthermore, additional features such passenger video screens can help keep little ones occupied while you drive.

2022 Honda Odyssey

Price: $33,040

  • Voted “Best Mini-Van” by Kelley Blue Books three years in a row.
  • Received a Top Safety Pick+ ranking from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
  • Comes with “Cabin Watch” camera to view all areas of the car and ensure passenger safety.

2022 Ford Expedition

Price: $49,895

  • Spacious interior with ample seating and cargo space.
  • Rear entertainment system includes USB ports and Amazon Fire TV capabilities.
  • Hands-free trunk access.

2022 Toyota Highlander

Price: $35,405

  • Three-row interior seating with room for eight passengers.
  • Multi-Terrain Select for increased traction in mud, dirt, sand, rock, and snow.

2022 Subaru Forester

Price: $25,195

  • Remote engine start and temperature controls from your smartphone
  • A great suite of safety features, including automatic pre-collision braking and emergency steering.
  • Comes with front and rear cameras and 11.6-inch console touchscreen.

45 and Older – Newly Retired and Empty Nesters

Entering mid-life is all about the newfound independence of being an empty nester. When the kids move out and you’re no longer hauling them to after-school activities, your vehicle needs should adjust.

Just as the vehicles your early professional years focus on performance and style, your mid-life car choices should focus on comfort, luxury, and style. Some call it a “mid-life crisis”, but it’s more of a return to the love of driving for the fun of it. So, it’s fine to indulge in a car that looks good, drives well, and makes you feel young again.

2022 BMW M3

Price: $70,100

  • Includes rear-wheel drive, a manual six-speed transmission, and rear automatic emergency braking.
  • Can produce plenty of torque thanks to the six-cylinder turbo 3.0-liter engine.

2022 Mercedes E-Class Coupe

Price: $66,100

  • Sporty style
  • Intuitive infotainment features, which includes dual 12.3-inch displays in the front dash and multimedia touchscreens.
  • Spacious four-seat cabin.

2022 Jaguar F-Pace R-Dynamic S

Price: $65,500

  • Features all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission.
  • Can go from zero-to-60-mph in 5.5 seconds.
  • Comfortable minimalist interior styling with sleek lines.

2022 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS

Price: $136,700

  • Comes with sport-style suspension and superior handling
  • The twin-turbo 3.0-liter flat-six engine can produce 473 hp and 420 pounds of torque.
  • Classic Porsche exterior design with bubble headlamps and low profile.

65 and Older – Budget-Minded Seniors

As you settle into retirement, your golden years will be filled with lazy days and enjoying the best things in life.

During this milestone, your vehicle needs will downshift to be more focused on comfort, drivability, and accessibility. From meandering Sunday drives to activity days with your grandchildren, your vehicle should be fun to drive while having enough seating for the youngsters in your life.

2022 Subaru Legacy Premium

Price: $25,245

  • Features 10-way power driver’s seat, heated front seats, and dual-zone automatic climate control.
  • Quiet and spacious interior.

2022 Honda CR-V EX

Price: $28,910

  • Enhanced safety features, including a blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert.
  • Highlights include a 12-way adjustable power driver seat with adjustable lumbar support and seven-inch touchscreen.

2021 Nissan Murano

Price: $32,810

  • Open concept interior for added space and comfort.
  • Includes a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, and assisted parking controls

2018 Honda Fit

Price: $17,400 to $20,428

  • Small exterior profile makes for easy parking.
  • A solid suite of safety features, such as forward collision warning with emergency braking.
  • Includes a peppy four-cylinder engine and adaptive cruise control.
Nestor Rizhniak / Shutterstock
Devon Taylor

Managing Editor

Devon is an experienced writer and a father of three young children. He's simultaneously trying to build college funds and plan for an eventual retirement. He's been in online publishing since 2013 and has a degree from the University of Guelph. In his free time, he loves fanatically following the Blue Jays and Toronto FC, camping with his family, and playing video games.


Frugal Living: It’s A State of Mind (Not Just What You Buy) Budgeting

Frugal Living: It’s A State of Mind (Not Just What You Buy)

Being frugal isn’t so much about what you buy. Really, it’s more of a state of mind. A different way of living. Too often, we get caught up in penny pinching in a way that isn’t healthy for our finances – or our sanity. If you’ve been trying (and failing) to get your budget balanced […]

Read More about Frugal Living: It’s A State of Mind (Not Just What You Buy)

8 minute read

Why Your Budget Keeps Failing (And How To Fix It) Young couple worrying about bills and budgeting Budgeting

Why Your Budget Keeps Failing (And How To Fix It)

We all know that one of the cornerstones of financial success is getting the details right. Even with good intentions and managing the general money basics like we should, the reality is that we can still fail, financially speaking. One of the main reasons is simply human psychology, when our brains convince us to defy […]

Read More about Why Your Budget Keeps Failing (And How To Fix It)

7 minute read

Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck With These Helpful Tips paycheck arriving on payday Budgeting

Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck With These Helpful Tips

Living paycheck to paycheck is not an unusual situation. Many Americans live in that reality every single day of their lives. Modern life is expensive. For most families, it’s easy for a string of bad luck to force their finances into the red. If you’re one of the many Americans who worry about paying their […]

Read More about Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck With These Helpful Tips

8 minute read

Effective Ways To Practice Self-Care on a Budget Budgeting

Effective Ways To Practice Self-Care on a Budget

Self-care is defined by the World Health Organization as “the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health with or without the support of a healthcare provider.” More broadly, self-care is described as an individual nurturing their spiritual, emotional, and physical health. It’s an important part of keeping your mental health in a healthy […]

Read More about Effective Ways To Practice Self-Care on a Budget

7 minute read

Important Financial Advice Every New Parent Should Follow Budgeting

Important Financial Advice Every New Parent Should Follow

Becoming a parent will totally change your life in so many ways. If there wasn’t enough enough for brand new parents to worry about, the financial decisions alone can be daunting. Making the transition from a couple to a family can have lasting repercussions on your budgets. Taking the time to put your financial ducks […]

Read More about Important Financial Advice Every New Parent Should Follow

9 minute read

See all in Budgeting