The Cars College Graduates are Choosing

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College graduation time is here and all those fun-loving collegiate types are heading out into the big, scary real world. They’re also upgrading their old college beaters to something more befitting their new post-graduation lives. You might expect new college grads to take a conservative view on their new car purchases, but today’s grads are going all out.

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First, lets take a look at what they’re ditching. According to Swaplease, the top five cars they’re saying goodbye to are:

  1. Toyota Camry
  2. Ford Fusion
  3. Nissan Leaf
  4. Toyota Prius
  5. Ford Edge

None of those cars is surprising. They’re exactly the affordable, efficient vehicles you’d expect parents to choose for their new college student. Once they graduate college, things head in an entirely different direction. The top five cars grads are choosing are:

  1. BMW 4 Series
  2. Dodge Charger
  3. Audi A5
  4. Ford F-150
  5. Lexus IS 250

The top vehicle for college grads is a BMW 4 Series? We can’t really fault the choice, but a new one starts at $42,200 and that is a rather large chunk of change.

The Dodge Charger is a more reasonable $27,995, so those must be the practical grads. Things go right back to pricey with the Audi A5 at $42,800. The Ford F-150 starts at $27,110 and the Lexus IS 250 comes in at $37,825. None of these cars is cheap.

They come with equally impressive car payments. The lowest payments are found at Ohio State where graduates pay an average of $317 per month for their new rides. Compare that to LSU, where they’re paying $1,081 for their graduation car.

The idea of a new college graduate sinking over one thousand dollars a month into a car payment is frightening. Heck, it’s frightening to think of most people spending that much on a monthly car payment. Just because you graduated college doesn’t mean you have unlimited steady cash in your future.

Looking for a new or used car? Check out BestRide’s listings search here.

Sure, it’s tempting to go out and buy a shiny new automobile once you have a real job and can do whatever you want with your money, but committing to that kind of monthly outlay when you’re fresh out of college doesn’t leave a lot of room to handle a dip in your income. Layoffs and company closures happen all the time.

It’s unlikely a new college grad has much of a rainy day fund. Even if there is money in the bank, it’s not going to last long with a high car payment on top of all your other expenses.

Think twice before you go overboard on your first car out of college. The last person you want to be is that new college grad that moved right back in with their parents because they couldn’t afford to live on their own.

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Nicole Wakelin

Nicole Wakelin