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10 Perfect Cars for Recent Grads

Jesse Alexander For Students, Fun Facts

10 Perfect Cars for Recent Grads

So you’ve graduated college, and it’s time to head off into the real world. Unless you can bike or take public transportation to your job, you’ll probably be in the market for a commuter car. Below, we’ve shared the 10 best cars for college grads, which offer the most value, reliability, and safety on the market.

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Hyundai Elantra

If you’re looking for a consistent car that drives smoothly and gets solid gas mileage, look no further than the Elantra. Now in its sixth generation, Hyundai’s best-selling compact car has won numerous awards, including the Detroit Auto Show’s North American Car of the Year in 2012.

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Mazda 3

Available as a 4-door or hatchback, the Mazda 3 drives like a tiny sports car, but it still gets incredible gas mileage. The base model comes with a 2.0-liter engine, which averages 41 miles on the highway. With its tight suspension, the Mazda 3 sticks to the road, even when you’re pushing the peppy engine. No other car in this price range can compete on the pure driving fun.

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Toyota Prius

This wildly popular hybrid is great for recent graduates because you’ll average 50 mpg between city and highway driving. You can find the 3rd generation model (2010-2011) for around $12,000. If you’ve never driven a hybrid before, you’ll be surprised at the Prius’ ample torque, which translates to speedy acceleration.

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Honda Civic

Known for its reliability, the Honda Civic is also one of the safest compact cars in the world. With 158 horsepower and a four-cylinder engine, you’ll have plenty of power to get around town. If you’re looking for a comfortable and dependable coupe, the new Civic starts around $18,740.

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Chevrolet Cruze

CarGurus is a respected automotive site, and they do in-depth research on the best car deals. They highly recommend the 2011-2014 Chevrolet Cruze for college grads, with prices averaging less than $15,000 for the newer models. Depending on your taste, the 4-cylinder Cruze is available with a 6-speed transmission. Meanwhile, the 2014 model averages 46 mpg on the highway, which is quite impressive for a gas vehicle.

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Kia Soul

If you’re looking for something more stylish, the Kia Soul offers cool design cues in a compact package. It also comes with the latest tech options, including Bluetooth and USB connectivity. With a huge amount of cargo space, a gorgeous interior, and room for five passengers, there’s a lot to love about the Soul. It’s one of the best cars for college grads.

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Nissan Leaf

More and more people are jumping on the electric car bandwagon, and the Leaf offers exceptional value while also reducing pollution. You can drive an estimated 84 miles on a single charge, which is perfect for your daily commute. The spacious interior comes with plenty of perks as well, including hands-free texting and a rear-view camera.

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Mini Cooper

Enjoy some British flair with the petite and powerful MINI Cooper. If you’re looking for a faster commute, test drive the John Cooper Works special edition model, which packs 211 horsepower in a 1.6-liter engine. Whether you like British Racing Green or Absolute Black, the MINI Cooper cuts a striking figure on the road.

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Ford Escape

If you’re looking for a reliable SUV to transport your college life into a new apartment, the Escape offers excellent value for the money. With up to 23 mpg city and 30 mpg highway, you get great gas mileage in a spacious 5-passenger vehicle.

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Chevrolet Silverado

Finally, truck enthusiasts will love the Silverado 1500. It’s one of the most budget-friendly trucks on the market, starting at less than $28,000. With a 4.3-liter V6, six-speed transmission, and impressive towing features, the Silverado is perfect for off-road adventures.


Want more tips?

Check out our post on beating post-grad anxiety here!