Summer’s over and instead of going back to school, you’re headed off to the workforce. In the olden days, when you got your first job out of college, you got your mom’s 1972 Plymouth Satellite Plus sedan and you liked it. With all the advances in safety technology over the last few years, though, it’s difficult to think about seeing your kid in a car with a lap belt. New cars are getting expensive, but there are a bunch of brand new models that will appeal to young drivers without adding too much to their debt load.
When it debuted in Geneva last year, the internet reacted to the Jeep Renegade with unfiltered hostility. First the Cherokee, now this? But give the 2015 Jeep Renegade a chance. In person, it’s a nice-looking vehicle, with a lot more going for it than it suggested in the early photos. Unlike most of the cute-utes scheduled to arrive this year, the Renegade actually claims some of Jeep’s Trail Rated heritage. Base price is expected to start under $20,000
The Volkswagen Golf has been the official car of college for a whole lot of kids in the country, but in the last few years, a lot of brands have claimed a share of a market that Volkswagen used to own. For 2015, Volkswagen introduces an all-new Golf, which is longer, lower, wider and more spacious than the car it replaces, but also trims a bit of weight. Like the Golfs of yore, the 2015 edition is more of a driver’s car than the small package suggests. Pricing starts at $17,995.
Kia Soul EV
It’s gotten better in recent years, but since the dawn of the automobile, electric vehicles were doubly impractical because of the space sacrificed to a raft of batteries, and the limited range they offered on a charge. The Kia Soul at least has a place to store the 96-cell, 27-kWh lithium-ion polymer battery, even if it does cut into its cargo space a bit. The Soul is the perfect urban runabout, though, and adding electric power with 100-mile range, passing gas stations along the way, it’s aimed at the kind of youthful hipsters that move into the city. No word on pricing yet, and Soul EV sales are iniitally limited to California, New Jersey, Maryland, Oregon and New York.
The Chevrolet Trax is the stablemate of the successful Buick Encore, only in less fancy, less expensive form. Chevrolet has been selling the Trax in Europe, and everywhere in North America but the United States. It features a single engine: a turbocharged, port-fuel-injected, 1.4-liter four that produces 148 lb-ft of torque at 1850 rpm, not bad for a tiny engine. The trick with all the vehicles in this class is that while they look diminutive outside, they actually offer comfortable room for four inside, with generous headroom. There’s even a fair 18.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats. There was no official pricing at press time, but estimates suggest that it will start at just under $20,000.