Cruising on Campus: Best Cars for College Students

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College campus with students/Image Credit: Photo by Marcus Loke on Unsplash 

Sending your child off to college can be an emotional and stressful time. One thing that can ease your mind is making sure that they have the perfect vehicle. For young adults experiencing their first taste of independence, their Best Ride is affordable, reliable, and practical, while still having some style and flair. Here’s our list of the best cars for college students. 

Hyundai Elantra 

2022 Hyundai Elantra/Image Credit: Hyundai 

Spending as little money on gas as possible is a big deal for many students. Since hybrids and EVs are generally still more expensive, finding a vehicle with great fuel efficiency is key. The Hyundai Elantra excels in this category, with its combined MPG of 37. Throw in a fresh design and an impressive array of features, this compact sedan is a great value for its very reasonable price. 

Kia Soul 

2022 Kia Soul/Image Credit: KIA 

For the college student with a quirky personality, the Kia Soul is the perfect blend of fun and practicality. This CUV comes in a variety of colors and trims to suit any style, and its starting price makes it easily accessible for anyone on a tight budget. With its surprisingly spacious interior and hatchback design, the Soul is ideal for moving into a dorm room or taking a spring break road trip.  

Subaru Impreza 

2022 Subaru Impreza/Image Credit: Subaru 

The adventurous young adult who enjoys hiking on the weekends will be intrigued by the Subaru Impreza. This compact vehicle, available in a sedan or 5-door hatchback style, comes standard with All-Wheel Drive, setting it apart from its competitors. With a starting price of less than $19,000, the Impreza is an excellent car for city driving and weekend adventures alike. 

Volkswagen Jetta 

2021 Volkswagen Jetta/Image Credit: Volkswagen 

Visit any college campus parking garage, and you’re bound to see a Volkswagen Jetta (or five). There’s a good reason why this car is incredibly popular with young adults. Its low price and impressive fuel economy make it a practical, cost-efficient choice, while its sharp style and advanced features keep it from ever feeling boring. 

Nissan Versa 

2021 Nissan Versa/Image Credit: Nissan 

While having the lowest starting price of any vehicle on this list, the Nissan Versa provides plenty of bang for your buck. Both the interior and exterior are sleek and eye-catching. Available features, like the 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, make this vehicle as modern as any. The base automatic model also comes with some great safety technology. For the ultimate bargain, and for true gearheads, Nissan also offers a manual transmission option. 

Chevrolet Trailblazer 

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer/Image Credit: Chevrolet 

If your college student yearns for a rugged crossover, the Chevrolet Trailblazer is an excellent option at an amazing price. Starting at just $19,000, this SUV has a striking and sporty style that any outdoorsy person will love. With a versatile cargo area, available All-Wheel Drive, and advanced safety technology, the Trailblazer (as its name suggests) is ready to hit the trails or help you hit the books. 

Mazda CX-3 

2021 Mazda CX-3/Image Credit: Mazda 

There’s no denying that crossovers are great for lugging stuff around efficiently. But besides being practical, they can also be stylish and enjoyable to drive. The Mazda CX-3, the brand’s smallest SUV, certainly fits the bill. Its 2.0-liter engine produces 148 horsepower while getting 34 MPG on the highway. Inside the cabin, you’ll find features like automatic temperature control, smartphone integration, and a package of advanced safety technologies. 

Having the right car can make life a lot easier for a new college student. The vehicles on this list are affordable, practical, and fun to drive. Remember, BestRide makes it simple to find the exact car you, or your student, are looking for. 

Kasey McNerney

Kasey McNerney

Kasey McNerney is a native of Phoenix, Arizona, and inherited her interest in cars from her dad. She previously worked at Phoenix Raceway, where she assisted with communications for NASCAR events. Currently, Kasey writes automotive content for BestRide and works with auto and auto-adjacent businesses to strengthen their social media presence.