Kelley Blue Book is a quintessential online automotive resource. People constantly use their website for price quotes to negotiate trade-ins, purchasing prices and advice for choosing the right car. They are always putting together top ten lists for different kinds of people who need cars for different kinds of things.
They haven't ignored the college crowd. They have compiled a list of new cars under $18,000 and used cars newer than 2005 with a value of less than $12,000 (so ones that were around $18,000 when they were new) that they believe are the best for college students. Are they? Let's find out!
#10. 2011 Chevrolet Cruze
Their first choice is the new, and really quite handsome offering from Chevrolet called the Cruze. The starting price is a bit high at $16,995, but that could be due to a very, very long list of standard equipment. Every single Cruze has ten airbags. That is pretty darn safe. The only risk with being one of the first to buy the first rounds of a brand new car design are recalls. There is bound to be at least one, which could be a pretty big inconvenience.
#9. 2008 Suzuki SX4
Why this Suzuki? Kelley Blue Book makes two very excellent points as to why. First, it is one of the cheapest all-wheel-drive cars on the market. Second, it has a seven year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty offering peace of mind to even the second or third owner if something does go horribly wrong. Its a tiny bit nerdy looking, and won't leave any lasting impressions on anyone that sees you. However, you get to laugh at them when they're stuck in snow and you're out towing your friends around while they ride snowboards.
#8. 2006 Ford Crown Victoria
2006 Ford Crown Victoria Standard
For people who "dare to be different" KBB recommends the tough as nails Crown Victoria. For people with common sense and a brain, I recommend ignoring them. Yes, its built like a bunker and has a huge amount of space inside. But what happens when you try to parallel park that boat? You're going to end up parking ten blocks from your apartment in a sketchy part of town where people will think you're an undercover cop on a sting operation. Maybe not, but this choice doesn't make a whole lot of sense. There are better ways to be different.
#7. 2010 Kia Soul
Cheap and spacious? Yes. Stylish? Errrrr... Fun to drive? Uhhhhh... It's a solid choice for the more utilitarian student on a tight budget, but I wouldn't want to have to look at it every day. Plus, everyone will start talking about the commercial with the hip-hop hamsters when they get in your car. That will get old quicker than people quoting Napoleon Dynamite. Gosh.
#6. 2005 Saab 9-2x
Now this one I like. What you are looking at is a Subaru Impreza WRX with a different face and a different badge. You still get all the whoopie of the turbocharged boxer engine and all wheel drive without looking like a dopey boy racer. You can at least pretend to be more sophisticated, and not wear t-shirts with the Monster energy drink logo on it all the time. High five KBB.
#5. 2010 Honda Fit
Yet another solid addition to KBB's list is the Honda Fit. Smart packaging, nippy handling and fuel sipping economy make this a car that you can buy with your brain and drive with your heart. Plus, the flat folding seats make it so that you can carry around just about anything you can imagine in the back. Did someone say "kegger"?
#4. 2008 Pontiac Vibe
KBB likes it for its amount of space, and easy to clean hard plastic floors. For someone that likes to get down and dirty, that can be pretty useful. Plus, Pontiac's recent extinction makes old ones extremely cheap. Don't worry about having problems servicing it, because it is in essence a Toyota Matrix. That means it will run as long and as hard as you, Mr. Sports. For the rest of the world, there are better choices.
#3. 2010 Mazda3
The Mazda3 has been one of my favorites for years. It is well built with just a sprinkle of sporty, and still is able to be as practical as a hooded sweatshirt. Plus, the 2010 version has very distinct looks that promise to stand out wherever you go. The only thing I don't agree with is putting it down at number three.
#2. 2011 Ford Fiesta
2011 Ford Fiesta
Small, stylish and fun. The Fiesta ticks all those boxes. It isn't as practical as the Fit, with less room inside and seats that do not fold flat. It also isn't quite as nice to drive as the Fit with its herky-jerky dual-clutch gearbox. Get one in a manual and you're set. If you can't drive stick, stick with the Fit.
#1. 2006 Honda Civic
2006 Honda Civic Si
Well would you look at that! The car that I named #1 college car once again is on top. KBB loves it for fuel economy, reliability, affordability and its lack of depreciation. Yes, it would be nice to be able to sell off your college car once you've completed the journey of education, but the Civic is so smart you might not want to. It is the daddy for a reason, and hopefully the next version is even better.
Source: [Kelley Blue Book]