Rock Talk

19 Unbelievably Affordable Cars for College Grads

Last updated on December 5th, 2017 at 09:19 am

It’s college graduation season for students across the country. If you’re a newly minted grad, you’re probably looking to snag your first job. When you land one, you’ll have a steady stream of cash coming in. That means you might finally be able to ditch your old jalopy from your school days and get a shiny new set of wheels.

It’s a big step. And aside from your college education, it’s probably the most expensive thing you’ve purchase at this point in your life. You want a safe ride, sure, but also one that’s a little fun. Well, we did some of the leg work for you to bring you a list of 19 of the coolest, safest and most budget friendly cars for college grads and young professionals.

To be clear: this isn’t some willy nilly list of cars we like. We didn’t even really pick these cars. This list was whittled down by several factors.

  • First, we deferred to the experts. We combined the lists for the U.S. News & World Report’s 2017 Best Cars for the Money and the 2017 Car and Driver Editor’s Choice Awards (this is what they do after all).
  • Then, we limited that list to only cars that received a 5-star overall crash test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (you want to make sure you’re safe in your new ride).
  • Finally, we limited the list again to cars that have MSRPs starting under $25,000 (we’re all on a budget, right?).

Here’s how all that sorting and searching ended up (this list is simply sorted by starting MSRP, low to high):

Make and Model Starting MSRP
Toyota Yaris $15,250
Honda Fit $16,090
Kia Soul $16,100
Kia Forte $16,600
Mazda 3 $17,845
Honda Civic $18,740
Honda HR-V $19,465
VW Golf $19,895
Mazda CX-3 $19,960
Chevy Malibu $21,680
Mazda 6 $21,945
Hyundai Sonata $21,950
Kia Optima $22,200
Honda Accord $22,455
Hyundai Tucson $22,700
Toyota Camry $23,070
Ford Escape $23,750
Honda CR-V $24,045
Toyota Prius $24,685


These are base model starting prices. Options can be really freakin’ cool, but will run you a little extra dough. And, you’ll need to make a decision about whether you want to lease or buy your new car. There’s no one answer for everyone – it’s going to come down to what makes sense for you. Are you looking to buy a new car? Make sure you have it protected, too.

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