August 18, 2017

Car Shopping for College Students

College is stressful enough without having to worry about transportation. Nevertheless, the high cost of university housing makes commuting a reality for approximately 75% of all college students. If your child is planning to make a daily commute to Arizona State University or Maricopa Community College, set them up for success with a reliable vehicle that will last them throughout their twenties. The ideal vehicle will help your intrepid student commute to classes, attend extra-curricular activities, and take a few responsible road trips. It should also be reliable, fuel efficient, and maneuverable.


For reliability ratings, check out the US News & World Report or Consumer Reports. While Audi's top both lists, it’s a good idea consider several factors before making a decision. When ranking cars, these companies consider the engine system, cooling system, transmission, and driveline, and more. While other factors can contribute to a vehicle’s overall reliability, these four tend to be the most important. You’ll also notice that these reports tend to favor Japanese cars like Toyota Corollas and Honda Accords.

Gas Mileage

To compare the gas mileage of various vehicles, check out this cool tool created by the federal government. The current national average is somewhere around 23.6 miles per gallon. If you’re looking for a sensible sedan that can beat this number, consider a Mazda6 or a Chevrolet Cruze. Hybrids and electric vehicles are also growing in popularity. The Toyota’s Prius may seem like the obvious choice, but you should also consider the Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf.


Last, but not least, consider the vehicle’s ability to maneuver tight corners. If your student is planning to attend college in a big city, they’ll probably have to parallel park with some frequency. Some easy-to-park vehicles include the Fiat 500 and the Mini Cooper. Newer models even come with the ability to park themselves. If you’re interested, check out a 2016 Ford Focus.

The Verdict

While every students has different needs, my number one vehicle recommendation for college commuters is the Toyota Prius. These vehicles offer the perfect blend of reliability, fuel efficiency, and maneuverability. On average a Toyota Prius can travel more than 40 miles on a single gallon and more than 500 miles on a single tank. They also equipped with a hatchback and folding seats, so they’re perfect for a spring break road trip. For more information, check out CarMax’s Complete Guide to Cars and College.

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