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When it comes to good cars for students, the Toyota Corolla, the Mazda 3, and the Honda Civic are three of our top picks because of their extensive safety features, reliability, and affordability.
For students who decide to purchase a car for their college years, affordability is going to be one of the most important considerations. Additionally, students want to choose a car that has high-reliability ratings and won’t require expensive or frequent repairs.
College students also face higher car insurance costs due to their more limited experience on the road and greater risk of getting into an accident. That’s why it’s critical that you find a vehicle with safety features and driver’s aids designed to keep you out of danger throughout your college years.
The car insurance comparison app Jerry is here to help you out. Jerry is a licensed broker that compares affordable quotes from more than 50 top insurance companies, so you can rest assured that you’re getting the best possible rate, no matter which car you choose.
To make your selection process a little easier, Jerry has compiled a list of 10 good cars for students.
What to consider before buying a car for college
Before you start car shopping, it’s important to think about whether you really need a car in college. Ask yourself:
- Does your school offer decent public transportation options?
- Do you need to leave campus on a regular basis?
- Can you afford the additional expense of owning a vehicle?
Assess your college lifestyle before you head to the dealership.
Having a car will give you flexibility in your schedule and greater freedom to leave campus whenever you want. On the other hand, car ownership costs can really add up for college students at a time when you’re already spending a lot of money on tuition, room and board, textbooks, and more.
If you do decide to purchase a car for your collegiate years, make a budget for yourself. Figure out how much you can afford each month on car payments, insurance, gas, and maintenance. Don’t forget to look up the price of a campus parking permit, too.
This will help you establish a reasonable price range for a new or used car.
The best cars for college students
Starting MSRP (2022): $21,100
Average used price (2016 model, base trim): $14,000 to $17,200
Available as a hatchback and a sedan, the Toyota Corolla is a great pick for students because of its abundant standard safety features and great fuel efficiency.
The Corolla is an IIHS Top Safety Pick, and it comes with the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, which includes driver aids like lane-departure warning, automatic emergency braking, forward-collision warning, lane centering, and adaptive cruise control.
Additionally, the LE trim level is only a few hundred dollars more than the base trim and it comes with remote keyless entry and automatic climate control. With the LE, you also have access to an optional package that will add a blind-spot monitor with a rear cross-traffic alert.
Starting MSRP (2022): $24,169
Average used price (2016 model, base trim): $15,500 to $18,600
The Toyota Camry is a best-selling model across all age groups, including college students. The cabin comfortably fits five people, and it comes packed with safety features. This midsize sedan also offers an optional V6 engine for an extra kick and all-wheel drive for students who regularly experience harsh winters.
Starting MSRP (2022): $21,000
Average used price (2016 model, base trim): $14,000 to $16,300
Practical and compact, the Mazda 3 combines fuel efficiency with safety. It’s available as a sedan or a hatchback and it can be equipped with all-wheel drive, which might be ideal for students in snowy climates.
The Mazda 3 was named a Top Safety Pick+ by the IIHS and the base model comes standard with lane-departure warning, emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, and more.
Starting MSRP (2022): $25,750
Average used price (2016 model, base trim): $18,500 to $21,500
Students who want the cargo space and spacious cabin of an SUV should definitely consider the Honda CR-V. It runs on a turbocharged 190-hp engine and gets solid fuel economy stats of up to 28 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway.
The CR-V also comes standard with a cornucopia of safety features, including automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control. All-wheel drive is optional.
Starting MSRP (2022): $19,850
Average used price (2016 model, base trim): $13,500 to $16,500
The Hyundai Elantra includes a competitive warranty and a gaggle of advanced safety features, even on the base trim, like forward-collision warning, emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, high-beam assist, and lane-keeping assist.
This compact sedan also now comes with wireless Android Auto, wireless Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth connectivity with voice recognition, and two USB ports, all of which bode well when it comes to navigation and tunes.
Starting MSRP (2022): $22,715
Average used price (2016 model, base trim): $16,800 to $19,200
This IIHS Top Safety Pick has a spacious cabin and the Honda Sensing suite of driver assistance features, like automatic emergency braking, forward-collision warning, and adaptive cruise control. The Honda Civic is available as a sedan or a hatchback, so there’s some wiggle room in terms of how much cargo space you need.
The Honda Civic is also a great choice as a used car. It has consistently earned top safety scores over the years and is definitely a reliable pick.
Starting MSRP (2022): $19,190
Average used price (2016 model, base trim): $12,900 to $14,900
The Kia Soul is the most affordable vehicle on this list. For students who enjoy weekend road-tripping, this subcompact SUV boasts up to 62 cubic feet of cargo space and a roomy interior. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Bluetooth connectivity all come standard on the base model, too.
Although the price tag on the base trim is pretty remarkable, you might want to consider bumping up to the S grade for emergency braking, forward-collision warning, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.
Starting MSRP (2022): $25,470
Average used price (2016 model, base trim): $16,000 to $20,300
The Honda Accord is one of the best midsize cars out there. It features a surprisingly spacious trunk, a choice between two turbocharged engines, and a stellar fuel economy rating of 30 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway. A hybrid model is also available.
In terms of safety features, the Honda Accord comes standard with lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, frontal collision mitigation, and more. As you climb higher up the trim level, you’ll have access to more advanced features like front and rear parking sensors.
Starting MSRP (2022): $24,525
Average used price (2016 model, base trim): $16,800 to $19,600
To save money on your monthly gas bills, a Prius is always a great choice. The 2021 model is capable of reaching 56 mpg in combined city and highway driving, and an all-wheel-drive model is available, which might appeal to students who navigate icy roads.
The Prius comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and standard safety features include adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, road sign assist, and blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert.
Starting MSRP (2022): $23,595
Average used price (2016 model, base trim): $17,000 to $19,600
The Subaru Crosstrek is an IIHS Top Safety Pick that comes standard with all-wheel drive. It also comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission, although we recommend shelling out the extra $1,350 for the continuously variable transmission (CVT) because of the EyeSight Driver Assist Technology package that comes with it.
This suite includes automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, forward-collision warning, and adaptive cruise control.
Besides the safety features, the Crosstrek also includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Bluetooth connectivity.
Cheap car insurance for students
If you want to save money on car insurance in college, the Jerry app is a good place to start. A licensed broker, Jerry does all the hard work of finding cheap quotes from the top name-brand insurance companies and buying new car insurance. Jerry will even help you cancel your old policy.
And to ensure you always have the lowest rate, Jerry will send you new quotes every time your policy comes up for renewal, so you’re always getting the coverage you want at the best price. This level of service is why Jerry earned a 4.6/5 rating on the App Store and made it the top insurance app in the country.
“I’m a college student, and I was struggling to find cheap car insurance. I was just about to buy insurance when I saw the Jerry ad. It literally saved me over $300 compared to what I would’ve purchased.” —Talia B.
How can I save money on car insurance in college?
Besides comparison shopping with Jerry, you can also save money on car insurance by looking for discounts.
Common discounts that may be available for college students include:
Good student discount: Many insurance companies offer discounted rates for full-time students under the age of 25 who earn at least a 3.0 GPA.
Bundling discount: If you rent an apartment or a house, you may be able to secure discounted rates when you bundle your renters and auto insurance policy with the same provider.
Student organizations: Insurance companies sometimes partner with Greek life organizations, honor societies, or other student organizations to offer discounts to members who sign up for a new policy. Be sure to ask about benefits associated with any collegiate organizations that you join.