If you're looking to buy your son or daughter a first car, the choice on offer might seem a little overwhelming at first.

With gas prices on the increase, you may be tempted to get them something with good gas mileage, without spending too much money to buy it.

The good news is, cars like the 2013 Ford Fiesta meet that criteria, and still manage to offer modern standards of safety, performance and roadholding that small cars never used to offer. We'll be featuring others soon, but first we'll kick off with the Fiesta.

You can read more on the 2013 Ford Fiesta here

First off, the Fiesta represents good value. Pricing starts at $13,200, and for that you get a Fiesta Sedan in S trim. The specification is fairly basic, but you get the choice of a five-speed manual transmission, or for another $1,095, the more efficient six-speed automatic.

You also get manual air conditioning, plenty of airbags, safety systems galore, and the all-important stability control to help keep the kids on the blacktop.

A 1.6-liter, four-cylinder gasoline engine doesn't sound particularly advanced compared to some of the technology we've featured recently, but in the relatively light Fiesta body it's enough to return 29 mpg city, 38 highway and 33 combined on the EPA cycle.

Spend the extra on the automatic transmission and highway economy rises to 39 mpg, and for an extra $695 (or $395 on the Fiesta hatchback) you can have the SFE (Super Fuel Economy) package--but only if you spend $16,060 on an SE sedan with the auto transmission.

This makes the Fiesta a 40 mpg car on the highway, but you'd have to decide whether the extra cost is worth it for 2 mpg more on highway mileage alone--particularly as drivers of the manual transmission Fiesta have been averaging 36 mpg on the EPA's fueleconomy.gov site.

If your son or daughter did 10,000 miles per year--to college and back, for example, and trips away at the weekends--then the difference in fuel cost--at an average of $3.75 a gallon--would only be $50 per year between the regular car and the SFE. And that's  if 100 percent of their driving was at highway speeds.

Realistically, the difference in fuel efficiency and emissions is negligible, but whichever Fiesta you get it should prove to be a fun, safe and efficient first car.

And if you really want to put your kids in a green Fiesta, you may want to wait until Ford's advanced 3-cylinder, 1.0-liter EcoBoost hits U.S. shores.

We'll be looking at more first green car choices in the coming weeks, so keep checking back for more.


Follow GreenCarReports on Facebook and Twitter.