I don’t like to get stuck doing one particular thing in game and for that reason I’m a big fan of multipurpose ships. Multipurpose ships allow different ways of fitting to suit whatever role the player is aiming for whereas others are reasonably restricted by their abilities to a certain role be it combat, exploring, passengers, mining or carrying cargo.
You all start with a Sidewinder MkI which itself is a multipurpose ship and that is very much so you can try different roles, learn the game and decide what you like doing. I used the sidewinder to make some money and the next ship I went for is the Cobra MkIII which costs 349,718 CR but you will need a Mil or two to fit it well. I found its a great small ship that is manoverable and has many fitting points. As a result you can haul stuff with it, kill stuff with it and even turn it into a miner if you wanted to!
When you are ready to upgrade and you have enough credits to buy one and fit one I’d say the next best all-rounder is the Asp Explorer. It has a good amount of hard points, decent cargo space, amazing jump range and is medium sized. Though to buy the ship its 6,661,153 CR it will cost around 30M if you want to A-rate fit it.
Going up another level (though still classed as medium ships) your choice should be between the Python and the Krait MkII. If you are more into combat then take the Krait, if you are more into space trucking/mining then take the Python. The Krait will cost you 45,814,205 CR and Python will cost you 56,978,180 CR but, as above, make sure you have a lot more than that to cover fitting and upgrading. Modules cost a lot more for these bigger ships!
Hopefully that gives you a good path if you are like me and favour the multipurpose ship. Keep in mind that everyone is different and there are pros and cons to all ships so its important to do a bit of research before jumping in and buying one. Finally here is a table from the Wiki showing all of the multipurpose ships currently available and a link to the Wiki page showing comparisons of all ships: