Best cars for college students 2022. Photo: KnowInsiders
Best cars for college students 2022. Photo: KnowInsiders

There are lots to consider when evaluating cars for college students. An affordable payment is a function of a vehicle’s cost. Whether it’s the parents or the student shouldering the monthly payments, those payments need to be kept low.

Most carmakers have a captive financing company like Ford Credit and Honda Financial Services offering financing deals on new and certified pre-owned or CPO vehicles. This is a good place to start.

What Features Should a Student Look for When Buying a New Car?

Price

One of the most important considerations when buying a new car is the initial cost. Take the time to read our guide, how to buy a new car at the best possible price. You can always negotiate below the MSRP by requesting prices from multiple dealerships and asking dealers to beat the best price.

It's also important to take into account the long-term costs of car ownership when budgeting for a new vehicle. Some additional monthly costs to consider are fuel costs, maintenance, and car insurance.

Vehicle Size

Car types are usually categorized as subcompact, compact, mid-size, or large. Subcompact and compact cars tend to be the cheapest models available, while mid-size sedans, large sedans, and compact SUVs are usually between $20,000 - $30,000.

Some factors that can influence the decision on car size are lifestyle, parking availability, and budget. If traveling frequently, it would make more sense to find a larger vehicle with more cargo space. If you attend an urban college, it might be more beneficial to find a more compact vehicle to make parking easier.

Fuel EfficiencyFuel Efficiency

Since the price of gas is always fluctuating, it is always recommended to look at the vehicle's EPA mileage ratings. The average MPG for a vehicle right now is around 25 MPG combined.

If you can afford it, hybrid and all-electric options are becoming more efficient and may come with federal and state tax incentives. Most popular models have a hybrid option as well and they greatly increase the fuel efficiency.

Which are the Best New Cars for College Students in 2022

1. Nissan Micra

2. Mazda CX-30

3. Toyota Camry

4. 2022 Chevy Bolt

5. Citroen C3

6. Ford Fiesta

7. Hyundai Ioniq hybrid

8. Chevrolet Spark

9. Honda Accord

10. 2022 Hyundai Tucson

*****

Top 10 Best New Cars for College Students

1. Nissan Micra

Photo: Thethaohcm
Photo: Thethaohcm

The Nissan Micra gets all the basics of a small car right. It’s cheap to run, it looks great and is well equipped.

Go for the Acenta version and you’ll get air conditioning, cruise control and a touchscreen infotainment system with smartphone mirroring. It’s comfortable to drive too, just don’t expect hair raising performance.

All versions of the Nissan Micra are cheap to insure, your best bet is the 1.0-litre petrol Acenta version. This model gets alloy wheels and plenty of kit, while still being cheap to insure.

2. Mazda CX-30

Photo: Edmunds
Photo: Edmunds

Slap a luxury badge onto the 2022 Mazda CX-30 and no one would be able to tell that something's out of place. The subcompact SUV has one of the most upscale cabins and designs in the class. The CX-30 also comes with features that college students will enjoy, like an 8.8-inch infotainment display, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a Wi-Fi hot spot.

On the road, the CX-30 delivers sharp handling, as well as a comfortable ride. If you’re looking to get your mind off of classes, the CX-30 is an enjoyable SUV to drive.

The CX-30 has a predicted reliability score of 82 out of 100 from J.D. Power, which is considered to be Great. In crash testing, the CX-30 earned a Top Safety Pick+ award from the IIHS and a five-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA.

3. Toyota Camry

Photo: Techz
Photo: Techz

The Toyota Camry continually ranks as one of the best-selling vehicles in the U.S. and for good reason. The midsize sedan can do it all, offering a comfortable ride, a powerful optional V6 engine, and all of the latest safety features. Because of its well-rounded character, the Camry won our Best Midsize Car for the Money award for 2021.

Unlike the majority of competitors, the Camry is available with a 3.5-liter V6 engine that makes 301 horsepower. Additionally, Toyota offers the Camry in a sporty TRD trim that features an aggressive body kit and athletic suspension. All-wheel drive is available for the Camry, but it’s only offered with the standard four-cylinder engine.

On the inside, the Camry offers a stylish cabin with spacious seating for up to five people. The sedan's trunk offers up to 15.1 cubic feet of space.

4. 2022 Chevy Bolt

Photo: Chevy Model
Photo: Chevy Model

Available in EUV or EV forms, the 2022 Chevy Bolt guides you into the electric future with sleek and bold styling that envelops the roomy, sophisticated interior. The Bolt is your affordable entry point into full-electric driving for college students in environmental studies or those who wish to embrace green technology.

The EUV and EV are rated at 250 and 259 miles, respectively, freeing you from range anxiety for your day-to-day driving needs. Your mundane and uncomfortable commutes are now in the rearview, featuring ventilated seats and Super Cruise hands-free driving assistance for compatible roads. One pedal driving helps capture energy by using only the accelerator pedal to speed up and slow down through regen-on-demand helps you capture energy for maximum efficiency.

5. Citroen C3

Photo: ar.motor1
Photo: ar.motor1

If it’s some funky styling you’re after, the Citroen C3 could fit the bill nicely. It will certainly stand out from the other superminis in the campus car park with it’s airbumps and snazzy light design.

It’s comfy to drive too, which is ideal for the long slog back to your home town, but the tradeoff for this is there isn’t much in the way of fun to be had. At least the cabin is just as stylish as the outside, with plenty of quirky features to add visual appeal.

If you go for one of the lower powered 1.2 petrol engines then the C3 falls into group eight for insurance. This will be fine for around town work, however if you venture out onto the motorway often you’ll be better off with the turbocharged version.

6. Ford Fiesta

Photo: VnExpress
Photo: VnExpress

The Ford Fiesta has always been a great supermini. It’s fun to drive, the 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine feels nippy and it’s well equipped.

Go for the ST-Line model and you get some large alloy wheels and a sporty body kit which looks similar to the ST hot hatch, without the added running costs. Inside you’ll find a touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and keyless entry and start.

The ST-Line with a 1.0-litre petrol is the pick of the bunch for university life. It has great punch, while still being economical and falling into insurance group eight.

7. Hyundai Ioniq hybrid

Photo: TopElectricSUV
Photo: TopElectricSUV

Commuting to campus can be a drag, but the Hyundai Ioniq hybrid gets up to 58 miles per gallon combined. This isn't a plug-in powertrain, so no worries about waiting around for a charge. A 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine is augmented by a 32kW electric motor with a 1.6kWh lithium-ion battery located under the rear seats. Total system output is 139 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque, mated to a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Admittedly it's not the most fun car in the world to drive, but the hatchback styling gives students plenty of utility and drivers can adjust the amount of regenerative braking with the steering wheel-mounted paddles. Forward-collision warning, a driver attention monitor, lane-keeping assist and high-beam assist are standard, but you have to jump to the SE to get blind-spot monitoring and to the SEL to add adaptive cruise control. Highway Drive Assist is only available on the top Limited trim.

8. 2021 Chevrolet Spark

Photo:  CarBuzz
Photo: CarBuzz

From tuition to room and board to ramen noodle packs, college can be an enormous financial burden. For students who need a new car but must keep their costs as low as humanly possible, give the Chevy Spark a good look. Go ahead, drink it in.

This spunky little hatchback should be the most affordable new vehicle available in America today, undercutting similarly miserly rivals like the Hyundai Accent, Mitsubishi Mirage and Nissan Versa. An entry-level LS model with a manual gearbox, crank windows, 15-inch steel wheels and no smiles checks out for a positively parsimonious $14,595, including $995 in freight charges. That undercuts this list's price cap by a whopping 10 grand. Think of all the textbooks you can buy for that!

Sure, it may be cheap, but the Spark isn't all bad. It's offered in a range of spunky colors, from orange and light blue to dusty purple, plus it's small and highly maneuverable. While its 1.4-liter engine won't set the world ablaze, its 98 horsepower and 94 pound-feet of torque are more than adequate for a car of this size.

9. Honda Accord

Photo: Tieudung
Photo: Tieudung

In our class of midsize cars, the Honda Accord sits at the top. With a roomy cabin, a comfortable ride, and punchy powertrains, there’s little the Accord gets wrong. The Accord also has great crash-test scores and a lengthy list of standard safety features.

The Accord’s spacious cabin has two rows of comfortable seating and one of the largest trunks in the class with up to 16.7 cubic feet of cargo space. Additionally, the sedan’s cabin has a stylish design with high-quality materials.

Honda offers two turbocharged engines with the Accord. The base engine is a 1.5-liter unit that makes 192 horsepower, while the larger 2.0-liter engine produces 252 horsepower. The standard engine is rated to get up to 30 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway, which are great for the class.

10. 2022 Hyundai Tucson

Photo: 24H
Photo: 24H

Hyundai introduced a fully redesigned Tucson for the 2022 model year. The sharply styled compact SUV arrives with a spacious cabin and a comfortable ride. The Tucson’s cabin also feels far more upscale than its affordable price tag lets on.

Higher Tucson levels can be fitted with some of the most high-tech features for the compact class. A 10.25-inch touch screen, a 10.25-inch digital gauge cluster, wireless device charging, a Bose audio system, and a digital key are available.

For Costco runs, the Tucson’s expansive cargo area will be helpful. The compact SUV offers up to 74.8 cubic feet of cargo space, which is one of the largest cargo areas for the segment. An available hands-free power liftgate makes the cargo area more accessible.

How Much Will Car Insurance Cost a College Student?

Insurance cost is a key contributor to the total cost of ownership. It’s no secret that some vehicles cost less to insure than others. Auto insurance is highly competitive, and shopping around can save you money.

However, premiums are influenced by several personal factors, such as driving record, annual mileage, place of residence, and so forth. Historically, drivers younger than 25 years of age can expect insurance to be an even greater factor in the total cost of ownership. Involve your insurance agent in your purchase decision.

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