2012′s Top 10 Best Values for College StudentsAugust 28th, 2012 by Armaan Almeida
In these economic times, college students must scrimp and save more than ever to get through school. Part-time jobs are hard to find, and gas is more expensive by the day. The right car for a college student is cheap to maintain, efficient on gas, safe to drive and comes at a low cost of entry. Whether you are buying your first car or are a parent ready to send your loved one off to school, today we bring you our top picks for the best value buys for college students. You can still get an outstanding deal on a 2012 model if you act fast!
The Volkswagen Jetta is a cut above other compact sedans in its luxury styling and comfortable, attractive interior design. The hot-selling TDI turbodiesel model is more expensive, but outshines competitors in all-important mpg.
The cheapest new production car for sale in the U.S., the Versa costs $2,000+ less than competing subcompacts. Redesigned for 2012, it also features Nissan’s newest generation smooth CVT transmission.
The Yaris, available in 2-door or 4-door hatchback body styles with brand-new sheetmetal for 2012, is the cheapest way to get into Toyota quality. We recommend the manual transmission to make the most of the plucky little Toyota’s 106-horsepower 1.5-liter engine.
Even Kia has been surprised at the funky Soul’s strong sales, spurred by clever hamster ads but sustained by a fine vehicle with youth-friendly features like the brand’s new UVO infotainment system and an excellent stereo with interior lighting that pulses to the beat.
A brand-new model for 2013, the Spark is our top pick among a new generation of “micro-cars,” easy to navigate through big-city traffic and parking while shining in fuel efficiency. Inside it’s surprisingly spacious for such a tiny car, with space for four and 35.2 inches of rear legroom.
Ford really listened to small car buyers in creating the latest Focus, with pleasing styling and the most high-tech interior on this list. Ford SYNC will keep you connected on the go, while up to 40 highway mpg means you won’t run out of gas on the way there.
Unlike other inexpensive small cars, the Veloster manages 40 highway mpg while also being a blast to drive, its taut suspension and slick-shifting transmissions making the most of its high-tech direct-injection 1.6-liter engine.
The Sonic comes with class-leading horsepower, torque, and fuel efficiency with the optional 1.4-liter turbo engine. Regardless of engine choice, the Sonic is a fun and attractive little ride with standard OnStar. We predict much-improved reliability compared with GM small cars of a few years ago.
Available as a coupe, sedan or five-door hatchback, the Forte has been on the market for a few years but still holds up well, packed with feature content for a car at such a low price. Its 156-horsepower base engine provides quicker acceleration than most of the class leaders, especially in the attractive Forte Koup.
Years ago, the Accent used to mean bargain transportation and not a whole lot else. With its newest generation, the Korean compact will now be a source of pride rather than embarrassment for its owner. Its 30 city/40 highway mpg rating translates to just $1,650 to drive 15,000 miles.