Student Car Buying Guide

By

Automotive Editor

Trent Loomis is an automotive journalist who has spent the past four years writing reviews, buying guides, and how to articles for some of the biggest websites in the world. Although he currently lives in Los Angeles, he also spent some time in Germany where he got to experience European craftsmanship and the thrill of driving on the autobahn.

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, Automotive Editor - January 30, 2015

Being a cash-strapped student is tough. They have to scrimp and save more than ever to get through four tough years of school. Part-time jobs are hard to find, and no concessions are made for soaring fuel costs. The right car for a college student should 1) offer virtual maintenance-free operation for at least four years, 2) get outstanding fuel economy, 3) offer outstanding safety ratings and most importantly, 4) have an affordable price. Whether you are buying your first car or are a parent ready to send your beloved teenager off to school, today we bring you our top picks for the Best 5 Cars for College Students.

Ford Focus
More Space and Better Handling for the Enthusiast
Ford Focus

Ford really listened to a wide array of potential customers, but especially to College Students. In creating the latest (and greatest) Focus, the new version features class-leading styling and the most high-tech interior on this list. Ford SYNC will keep you connected on the go, while up to 40 highway mpg means you won’t run out of gas on the way there. The Focus also features the most balanced chassis and suspension. If you want a car that’s not only fuel-efficient and fun to drive, the Focus is your ticket.

EPA-rated fuel economy: Up to 26 city / 36 highway mpg.

Nissan Versa
The Most Affordable Car for a College Student
Nissan Versa

Nissan's Versa is far and away the best-selling subcompact car in the United States, especially for College Students, thanks in no small part to its carrying the lowest base price on the market. For 2015, the hatchback model has been categorized into a different model altogether and will now be known as the Versa Note. Though previous-gen Versa cars did not even feature a stereo, anti-lock brakes or A/C in their base models, the new car comes with all the basic necessities you'd expect. The extra-cost CVT transmission provides the best fuel efficiency, though the slightly underpowered Versa may be more fun with a row-your-own 5-speed manual, which comes standard.

EPA-rated fuel economy: Up to 30 city / 39 highway mpg.

Chevrolet Spark
Small, But Packed With Useful Features
Chevrolet Spark

The Chevy Spark is an all-new model for 2015, and is our top pick amongst the new generation of “micro-cars” for College Students. The Spark is easy to navigate through big-city traffic and is a cinch to park in those crammed student parking lots. And with fresh, edgy styling, it looks good doing just about anything. It also gets outstanding fuel economy due to its well-engineered 1.2L 4-cylinder engine, which produces a solid 84 horsepower while getting 32/48 mpg in the city/highway. Inside it’s surprisingly spacious for such a tiny car, with space for four and 35.2 inches of rear legroom. Adding value to the package are 10 standard airbags which make it extremely safe, regardless of its small stature.

EPA-rated fuel economy: Up to 31 city / 39 highway mpg.

Toyota Yaris
Safe, Stylish and High Resale Value
Toyota Yaris

After receiving a solid redesign which updated styling and interior quality, the Yaris is once again a strong choice for College Students. As basic transportation, you can't beat this tiny Toyota when it comes to reliability and low cost of ownership. Just don't expect the driving thrills of the Spark or Focus. As for styling, the Yaris is a hit where competitors tend to look boring and cookie-cutter-like, especially in the class-exclusive 3-door hatchback body style. Interior features are competitive, but don't lead the pack, either. However, with outstanding resale value, the Yaris can give you the most back for your money after 4 years should you decide to sell it.

EPA-rated fuel economy: Up to 30 city / 36 highway mpg.

Kia Soul
Roomy Cabin, Excellent Infotainment and Solid Warranty
Kia Soul

Even Kia has been surprised at the funky Soul’s strong sales, spurred by clever hamster ads but sustained by a fine vehicle with youth-friendly features like the brand’s new UVO infotainment system and an excellent stereo with interior lighting that pulses to the beat. The Soul offers a unique blend of styling and spaciousness, giving College Students a little more of everything. Just make sure you’re ready to drive your classmates and buddies everywhere, due to its seating capacity.

EPA-rated fuel economy: Up to 23 city / 31 highway mpg.

, Automotive Editor

Trent Loomis is an automotive journalist who has spent the past four years writing reviews, buying guides, and how to articles for some of the biggest websites in the world. Although he currently lives in Los Angeles, he also spent some time in Germany where he got to experience European craftsmanship and the thrill of driving on the autobahn.

Follow On: Google+ | Website