You are so close to receiving your diploma. All of your long, hard work in college will have finally paid off, and it will be time to carve out your path in the world. But first, you’ll need some wheels to take that path. As a college student, though, affordability is a factor, especially considering your last tuition bills, books and the looming student loan debts. And dependability is a necessity for making it to class, finals and hopefully job interviews. For the budgeting college student, deciding on a car can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t need to be complicated. Choose the vehicle that best reflects who you are and that best meets your reliability, affordability and style criteria. Here are just a few choices to think about:
For a traditional student with practical tastes, the compact Civic is an obvious choice. Both new and used models are heralded for style and performance. Plus, since 2006, the Civic has earned good ratings in every safety category, reports MSN Autos.
The 2011 four-door Civics are spacious and reliable, and were manufactured before the Honda redesign, which proved disappointing to Civic enthusiasts, claims Forbes. These cars are equipped with independent front strut suspension, independent rear multi-link suspension and Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) control, for optimal safety, according to Motor Trend. Be sure to do your homework through a trusted site like Kelley Blue Book before you buy, though, to guarantee you pay a fair price.
Both current models as well as the 2010–2011 models of the Fiesta are fuel-efficient without sacrificing power, so this model is an ideal fit for the student that wants practicality with some speed. Under the hood, the Fiesta features a 1.6-liter, 120-horsepower engine and yields about 40 mpg on the highway, states MSN Autos. Plus, the Fiesta is available as a sedan or four-door hatch, depending on your personal style and preference. On the inside, new models boast plenty of leg and headroom, and the interior is plush and comfy, says U.S. News Best Cars.
For the spunky, funky student, the off-beat Kia Soul is unique and reasonably priced. The Soul offers a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine, so it’s great for sporting around town. You even can upgrade to a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine if you want to brave the open road, where the Soul gets around 31 mpg. It also earned a 9.3 on the U.S. News & World Report’s safety rating. And if you are looking for something newer, Auto Week states that the 2014 Soul is less top-heavy and more solid on the road. Therefore, this is the car for the self-assured, safety-conscientious, free-thinking driver with an eye for the aesthetic.
Also on the road less traveled, the Nissan Cube stands out as the perfect car for the progressive, hip student or the industrious, abstract design major. With a unique front grille, ripple-like interior and an asymmetrical rear window design, the Cube rocks out to the beat of its own drum. The 1.8-liter engine generates 122 horsepower and performs at 27 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway, reports MSN Autos. In addition, it is noted for its responsiveness and prime handling. And most importantly, the Cube makes a statement and a lasting impression.
Earning your degree is just the first step to making your way in the world. You’ll have many choices to make leading up to and after graduation, but your car should be an easy checklist. Whether you want safety, affordability, performance or personality in your car, all you need to do is a little research and choose the car that makes the most sense for you.