College students who are going away from home for the first time will need to have a dependable car. This not only makes it easier for them to come home during breaks at school, it will make college life easier. Running errands, making it to and from work, shopping or going out to see a movie is more enjoyable when your college student is in the driver’s seat. This decreases the need to depend on others for a ride and in certain situations, it can increase your child’s safety, when they are the ones who are calling the shots on leaving a party or other situation that may have gotten out of hand. We’ve taken into consideration, dependability, fuel economy ratings and safety features. We’ve put together a list of the five best affordable cars for students who don’t want to drive a beater.
1. Kia Forte – $16,600-$19,300
The Kia Forte is one of the most reasonably priced vehicles for college students. The S and LX models average 32 mpg in fuel economy ratings, which makes them affordable to drive. Some of the other Forte trims are not as fuel efficient, so we didn’t include them in our best options listing. Some features that your college student may enjoy are the USB port and auxiliary jack along with access to Pandora radio service. The trunk offers 14.9 cubic feet of space, which is ideal for transporting suitcases back and forth for home visits and returning to school. This vehicle has also received high ratings in IIHS safety tests which can give parents greater peace of mind in knowing that their child is driving a car with good safety ratings.
2. Mazda 3 – $17,845-$24,945
The Mazda 3 is an automobile choice that most college students are happy with. This car is more fun to drive than most others, and it gets an average combined fuel rating of between 30 to 31 mpg. This makes it an affordable car to drive. If you opt for the 2.5-liter engine with a manual transmission, the fuel economy drops to around 28 mpg, but it gives the car a little more zip. This car has excellent safety ratings with features including blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning, rear cross traffic alert, and emergency braking. It comes with a 7-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth connectivity, an auxiliary input, and keyless entry and ignition. The trunk measures 12.4 cubic feet and it’s big enough to carry a few suitcases, duffel bags, and groceries or other items. If you opt for the hatchback model, the storage space can be increased to 20.2 cubic feet with the seats up and a massive 47.1 cubic feet when the seats are folded down.
3. 2012-16 Honda Fit – $9,775-$17,600
If you prefer to go with an affordable used model, the Honda Fit is an excellent option. The average fuel economy is between 29andd 36 mpg combined highway and city driving. When the rear seats are folded down it offers up to 57.3 cubic feet of cargo space. The seats can be folded completely flat, making it easier to transport larger items. This makes it more convenient to move back home for the summer when the school year has ended. It’s one of the more affordable options, and if you go with one of the newer models, backup cameras are standard. This is a feature that is popular with most parents. Students are happy with the connectivity, Bluetooth, USB, and auxiliary ports.
4. Toyota Corolla – $18,500 – $22,680
The Toyota Corolla is another affordable car option for students going off to college. It comes with some impressive safety features including pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, automatic braking, and lane departure warning with lane keeping. These features make it popular with parents as well as for students who may be new drivers that are still in the learning process. They also come equipped with a rearview camera, Bluetooth connectivity with an auxiliary input, LED headlights and automatic climate control. The trunk measures 13 cubic feet for cargo space and this can be expanded by folding down the rear seats. The fuel economy rating is between 30 to 32 mpg combined highway and city driving for operational affordability.
5. 2012-15 Toyota Prius V – $14,375 – $19,575
The Prius V in a used model is a wagon edition that gives college students plenty of passenger and cargo space. It gets an amazing 41 mpg combined highway and city driving, making it the most economical car to drive in our collection. It may not be a sexy looking car, but it has a ton of benefits that make up for it. The cargo space is 34.3 cubic feet when the seats are up and it can be increased to a whopping 67.3 when the feats are folded down. You can get this car with a rear view camera, but this is a standard feature in the 2015 model. It gets high ratings for safety, which is a definite plus. It also comes with entertainment connectivity.