College can be tough, but having a reliable car to help you get to class on time can make all the difference. Although you might be on a student’s shoestring budget, it doesn’t mean you have to compromise. To help you choose the right car for school, here are our top picks to suit your individual needs.
Best for: Reliability
Car owners who gravitate towards the Toyota brand usually do so because of their rock solid reputation for reliability. And the Toyota Yaris is one of the most reliable and dependable cars you can buy brand new. Being quite a basic ‘no frills’ type of car, there is very little that can fail on the Toyota Yaris, particularly if the recommended maintenance schedule is followed. The only recalls issued for the 2019 Toyota Yaris related to an incorrectly printed label, and no significant issues have been reported by owners. Every Toyota Yaris is covered by Toyotas excellent warranty, with the powertrain being covered for 60 months/60,000 miles.
What Else We Love About The Toyota Yaris
The Yaris was designed around the much loved Mazda 2, rather than a Toyota platform, and it shows. The level of driver comfort and the amount of technology that Toyota has packed into the Yaris is far more than you would expect at this price point.
Price: From $17,750
Nissan Versa Note
Best for: Interior Space
What sets the Nissan Note apart is its unmistakable design. A somewhat boxy inspired design was chosen in order to maximize interior space. In its standard configuration, the Nissan Note has a trunk space of 325 liters, larger than all of its rivals besides the more expensive Honda Jazz. On most variants of the Note, this can be expanded to a colossal 411 liters, enough to carry an entire years’ worth of textbooks. Most trim levels make use of Nissan’s Flexiboard boot floor which can be adjusted and configured to allow cargo of virtually any size and shape.
What Else We Love About The Nissan Note
Nissan has really put some thought into the design of the Note. Because of the extra interior space, the seating position has been raised giving drivers a much better view of whats going around them. The improved visibility is enhanced by larger than normal mirrors, and if Nissan’s 360 birdseye view camera system is selected as an option, you’ll never have any problem navigating a parking space again.
Price: From $14,730
Ford Fiesta (2019)
Best for: Daily Driving
If you do a lot of commuting, you’ll probably want a car that will put a smile on your face, which is what the Ford Fiesta does best. The Fiesta doesn’t become a zesty performer unless you get the turbocharged variant, but the base model holds its own, particularly in the corners where it’s well-weighted steering, well-tuned suspension, and taught chassis gives it a playful feel that is lacking in so many of the other budget-friendly compact cars. The only downside? Ford actually discontinued the Fiesta in the United States, so you’ll have to look for a 2019 or previous model.
What Else We Love About The Ford Fiesta
The interior may be a little sparse compared to other cars in this class, but the Ford Fiesta is one of the most comfortable cars to commute in. There is virtually no wheel or wind noise, even at 70 mph. Ford build quality is typically higher than average so squeaks and rattles are noticeably absent as well. Ford has given the Fiesta enough little touches to let you know that you’re behind the wheel of something pretty special and one of the best college cars.
Price: From $14,260
Best For: Affordability
If you enjoy shopping around, you can get the Kia Rio for an unbelievable price, even though it is already one of the cheapest cars on our list. The low buy-in price makes even the top trim level affordable, where the equipment that comes standard is impressive. This includes a 7-inch touchscreen with Sirius XM satellite radio, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay as well as Bluetooth and USB connectivity. Some drivers aides are included as well such as a reversing camera and parking sensors.
What Else We Love About The Kia Rio
All models besides the base trim achieved a 5-star Euro NCAP safety rating, thanks to the wealth of standard safety features that come with the Kia Rio. The base model is somewhat lacking, but all others get six airbags, hill-start assist, lane departure warning, traction control, and automatic emergency braking.
Price: From $15,850
Best For: Fuel Economy
All of the compact cars on our list that made the cut are extremely economical, but the Honda Fit is a particularly frugal fuel sipper. The latest Honda Fit manages 40 miles per gallon of highway driving and 33 miles per gallon of city driving giving an average of 36 mpg/2.8 gallon per 100 miles. This makes it a great daily driver.
What Else We Love About The Honda Fit
The Honda Fit is a car that really does it all. It looks good, drives well, and handles cargo duties with ease. The Honda Fit features Honda’s Magic Seat which is multi-configurable to suit passenger and cargo needs. It’s one of the only cars in the compact class that can carry a surfboard inside. The Honda Fit is possibly the best college car for all-round duties!
Price: From $16,190