Top 5 Affordable Cars for Community College Students

by Chad Agrawal

Although many community college students live close enough to campus to walk, bike, or utilize public transportation, others will have to drive in order to attend classes.

If you number among these students you may be looking for an affordable and reliable means of locomotion. While you might be able to borrow your parents' car, this could prove problematic when they have need of a vehicle.

And there is certainly the option of buying a cheap clunker, but if you want to be sure of making it to class without breaking down on the side of the road you're going to need something dependable.

Shelling out a little more money up front could save you a lot down the line in pricy repairs.

In short, you need to be smart about the type of car you purchase while attending community college.

Here are just a few potential options that could fit the bill.

Mazda 3.

The starting price on the iSV model is fairly low at $15,200 and this sporty little 4-door will get you 25 mpg city and 33 highway. It comes with a lot to love, according to reviews, including spry handling, stability and traction control, and a nicely appointed interior that features a hookup for your MP3 player. Of course, the back seat isn't terribly roomy, and although the trunk provides easy access with a hatchback, it doesn't offer as much storage space as others in its class. But passengers will no doubt enjoy the utility of four doors (most cars in this class have only two) and the sporty handling and fuel efficiency are sure to appeal to students looking for an economical and fun ride.

Honda Fit.

This 4-door hatchback starts at $15,325 and offers excellent fuel economy with 28 mpg city and 35 highway. As for features to attract the average college student, the Honda Fit comes with plenty of cargo space to store books, and unlike the Mazda 3 it boasts a roomy backseat for kids that like to do their part for the environment by carpooling. It also offers good side and rear visibility. Of course, the 1.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine can't match the power of the Mazda 3, meaning acceleration is a bit sluggish by comparison. But in terms of comfort and utility it's a definite knockout.

Ford Focus.

The price point on the Focus is a little higher than competitors at $16,500 starting, but the hefty list of features makes the added cost worthwhile. It's a little closer to the Mazda 3 in that it comes with a 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine that makes for snappy acceleration and deft handling. But it also features a stylish interior that includes MP3 hookup, speed-sensitive volume control, and a smooth, quiet ride. Plus, it offers 26 mpg city and 36 highway, providing fuel economy paired with power.

Smart Fortwo.

It may be small, but the 1.0-liter, 3-cylinder Smart car certainly earns its name when it comes to price and fuel economy. With a starting price of $12,490 it beats other options on the list, and when you add in the whopping 33 mpg city and 41 highway you can see why so many students are keen on this money-saving vehicle. Of course, there are only two seats, but that only means more leg room for the driver, or more likely the passenger. And at less than 9 feet total length you'll have no trouble parking it, even in tight spots. Stability and traction controls make it easy to handle, even at high speeds, but you'll definitely feel every bump in this tiny car.

Certified pre-owned vehicles.

If money is an issue, and even the insurance quotes online strike you as high, then perhaps a new car just isn't in your budget. In this case, you may want to shop for a used car instead. And certified pre-owned vehicles could be just the ticket. They are generally only 1-2 years old, they have low mileage and no accident history, and they have gone through extensive inspection and repairs. In addition, they often come with a full or partial warranty, not to mention a massive discount on the price of a newer model.

This post was written by Chad Agrawal

Chad Agrawal is the founder of CCTS, helping students transfer from community college to Ivy League, tier 1 or anywhere else by following this community college guide.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Rija October 24, 2012 at 1:20 pm

Just to let you know, this content looks a little bit funny from my smart phone. Who knows perhaps it really is just my cellular phone. Great post by the way.


Chad Agrawal October 24, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Thanks for the heads up. I’ll look into it. The site looks good from my phone.


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