When I graduated from UCSB in 2008, my life became unpredictable and chaotic. For the last four years I had heavily concentrated on achieving a diploma without any regard to, "what is the next step?" I dodged the question from family members with a witty, "Let's get through the ceremony first." Now, I was leaving the comforts of my university into a harsh reality-- jobs are scarce, the dollar is down, and student loans are due.
My 2004 Acura RSX got me to classes on time during my lazy senior year in high school and made an excellent commute car from home to college once a month. But now with debt paid off and a stable job (knock on wood), I'm ready to celebrate my postgraduate lifestyle with a new car.
What Postgraduates Should Look for in a New Car
1) Price. As far as I know, none of my fellow graduates recently won the lottery. Being concerned with price is necessary when selecting a car. Rule of thumb: pay less, get more. Haggling, researching beforehand, buying used, getting an online auto loan, and shopping around are great ways to do just that.
2) Size. Generally, postgraduates are a family of one (sometimes two). Seating is not really a huge dilemma, but you should always keep an eye out on the horizon. If the discussion of kids is on the table, you definitely need to keep that in mind.
3) Cargo room. Postgraduate life is still shaky--moving from job to job, city to city. A superior cargo space would work well for all those last-minute changes. Personally, it must fit my surfboard.
4) Fit into your occupational industry. Let's face it, certain cars just fit better in specific industries. If your job requires lifting, a truck is best. If you sit at a desk all day, you definitely need something with a heater (to bring you back to normal body temperature from the office AC). If you have a long drive, a car with better mileage is a great investment. And so on and so on. Keep your industry in mind when picking out a vehicle. A job title can easily switch (for you, I hope a promotion), but, generally, you will most likely stay within the same industry—construction, office, sales, etc.
Top Five Cars Built for College Postgraduates
2011 Nissan JukeEnlarge Photo
1) 2011 Nissan Juke. This new release offers an MP3 player, Bluetooth capability, and 6 speakers in its standard version; this sport crossover is definitely for the high-tech postgraduate. The “athletic design” comes at a low-price; MSRP base price starts at $18,960. In my opinion, this is definitely a ridiculously good-looking crossover that looks luxurious with a punch of spirit.
2011 Kia SportageEnlarge Photo
2) 2011 Kia Sportage. More expensive than the Juke, the Sportage comes with a great warranty (60 months) at a price tag of $20,295 starting. This compact crossover gives four of your best friends a thrilling ride--with 6 speakers and satellite radio for everyone to enjoy; plus it saves you money on gas. Think road trips on the weekends to the mountains, the desert, or the beach.
2011 Mazda2 exterior and detailEnlarge Photo
3) 2011 Mazda 2. With a 1.5-liter engine, this Mazda is tiny but ferocious in the quietest way possible. Mazda claims the vehicle to be an “ultraquiet ride;” that means now you can finally hear the music in this Ipod-friendly car. The sport version starts at $13,980, and gives you plenty of room--the 60/40 split fold-down rear seatback allows you to load more in the trunk, but still allow a passenger to seat in the back. No more excuses for needing to ditch annoying friends and/or bosses.
2011 Honda CR-ZEnlarge Photo