College girl in her car holding key.

Top 10 Used Cars for College Students

Young adults everywhere are heading back to college and most can appreciate finding a cheap reliable used car they can use for their transportation needs while away from home.

Our friends at compiled a list of the best used cars and SUVs for the college student located anywhere in the United States. For a vehicle to make the top 10, Edmunds looked at key areas such as styling, cargo area, low cost of ownership, crash test ratings and modern features.

They decided to leave out the most sensible used car choices such as the Ford Fusion, Toyota RAV4 and Honda Civic. They consider these vehicles to be great options; however, they’re generic enough to appeal to anyone and wanted to focus on what really matters most to college students today.

Most college students describe the perfect “college ride” as inexpensive, yet stylish and equipped to fit in their high-tech always-connected lifestyle. Vehicle’s such as the 2010 – 2013 Kia Soul fill the student’s driving needs with tech-savvy features like smart phone connectivity, satellite radio, and USB plug-ins. Even the base model Soul has hard to match futuristic style.

For the sports enthusiast, the 2002 to 2006 Honda CR-V is the perfect vehicle for sporting events. There’s plenty of space to haul you and all your friends (with all their cargo) to the big game. There’s also a watertight storage area and pop-out picnic table to host any tailgate parties you may decide to throw.

If you’re the college student that likes to roll deep. You might want to check out the 2004-2008 Acura TSX, the vehicle provides high technology features such as touch screen controlled navigation and luxury features such as heated leather seats. The TSX is a great luxury vehicle easily affordable for the budget minded college student.

Insider Car Buying Tip

Always begin the used car shopping process online. Once you find a vehicle (or vehicle’s) you like, you can email the dealer and request a free, no-obligation price quote. You can read more about this in my section on how to get used car quotes online.

If you find more than one of the same type of vehicle you’re interested in, located at different dealerships, you can play dealers off each other to guarantee you pay the lowest price. I’ll show you how to do this in my section on how to negotiate a used car’s price.

Do Research Online When Used Car Shopping

Note: when buying a used car or certified used car you must do two things. First, check the used car’s title history using a service such as AutoCheck to make sure the vehicle has not been in a severe accident or has a branded title. If the title shows to be clean, the second thing is always have the vehicle inspected by an independent certified mechanic before signing on the dotted line. This will greatly reduce the chances of you buying someone else’s problems.

If you’re considering the purchase of a pre-owned vehicle for your teen driver, I recommend using a free online referral services such as Ryde Shopper and Motor Trend. These services will tell you what others are paying for the vehicle you’re considering in your local area and which dealers give the greatest discounts.

Top 10 Best Used Cars for College Students

Used Car Year Range Average Price Range
Mazda 3 2004 – 2009 $4,000 – $15,000
Honda CR-V 2002 – 2006 $4,900 – $13,000
Scion tC 2005 – 2010 $5,000 – $15,000
Acura TSX 2004 – 2008 $6,500 – $15,500
Ford Mustang 2005 – 2009 $7,000 – $30,000
Toyota Prius 2006 – 2009 $7,000 – $15,000
Kia Soul 2010 – 2013 $11,000 – 18,000
Honda Fit 2009 – 2013 $8,500 – $18,000
Hyundai Tucson 2010 – 2015 $11,000 – $26,000
Subaru Impreza 2012 – 2015 $12,900 – $26,000