Around this time of year is when the college seniors out there are just a couple weeks from sweet freedom! About to jump in head first into the adult world of full-time employment, graduate school, or maybe just a summer internship. Wherever your post-graduation trajectory is aimed, make sure you can get where you're going safely and efficiently! That involves one of those milestones of adulthood -- your first car purchase.
Sure, a hand me down from the family has carried you for the last four years, or maybe more if you were one of the independent teens who had that permit at 15.5 to the day! But with graduation, you’ve earned the upgrade. So, find a car that matched your trajectory, take a look at what we at Gary’s Auto Service think are the best options for drivers like you.
10. CPO Lexus IS: The Luxury Option
Ahh, a Lexus, synonymous with luxury. A pricey investment but a worthwhile one if you’re looking for a car that has it all. Lexus is a subdivision of Toyota, so you know it’s reliable too. Purchasing a Lexus certified pre-owned will save you a lot, meaning a ride like this will run you about 27k. If you’ve got the funds, it’s a smart, luxurious investment in your future.
9. CPO Ford Fusion: The Fun, Budget Option
Again, you’ve got the reliability of Ford with the handling, compactness, and youthful style of a newer model Fusion. This is definitely one to take on a test drive, so you can see just what it’s like to drive this happy, sporty little car. It’s also available as a hybrid! A certified pre-owned Ford Fusion 2014 rolls in at around $19,700.
8. CPO Toyota Camry: The Practical Option
You may not be driving in the lap of luxury with this one like you would in a Lexus, but you’re bank account will thank you! Toyota Camrys are as reliable as you would expect from Toyota, with surprisingly low maintenance costs even for newer models. If you’re looking at a starter income and a starter job after graduation, a car model with low maintenance costs is a huge plus! Plus, the resale value isn’t too shabby either. A 2013 pre-owned model of this car comes in at the low-end 19k.
7. Fiat 500 or Fiat 500X Crossover: For Individuality and Style
These two models have a lot to love. The 500 is two-door while the 500X is a four-door, but just about everything else from the recognizability, to fuel economy, to handling, is comparable. You can get a sunroof, customizable colors, and even opt for a higher quality engine for some more power. Consider that if your post-graduation future involves big cities (and tiny parking spots!) that the Fiat 500 might just be the car for you. A Fiat 500 come in around 17k, and the Fiat 500X is closer to $21,000.
6. Subaru Crosstrek: For the Adventurer
If your post-college future is sending you out on dirt roads for work or just because you love the outdoor adventures that await you, this is the car for you. With all the 4-wheel drive, raised cabin, and high-tech systems and safety features you could ask for without the price tag, the Subaru Crosstrek is THE car for a graduate who longs to go beyond well-paved suburban streets. The Subaru Crosstrek will run you about 22k unless you get it certified pre-owned.
Note: if that’s just a little too much dough for you, consider a Jeep Renegade- same opportunity for both off-road and paved handling, but less high-tech features, at about $18,900 instead.
5. Mazda 3: The Pint-Sized Sporty Ride
Really and truly, the Mazda 3 is an option that all of us at Gary’s Auto Service can agree, is a win-win. You’ve got the option of 4 doors or hatchback, sports car handling, compact size, excellent fuel economy, and even more options when it comes to the car’s tech, safety features, leather seating options… there’s just about anything that you could want in a car. The smaller model comes in at around 17k, where the 4 door with hatchback can be up to 19.5k.
4. Nissan Versa Note: The Penny-Pincher’s Dream
$15,480 brand new. That’s it. One of the best prices we’ve got on the roster, but very little compromise when it comes to quality. This little 4-door may not have the highest tech features, but it’s all you really need. You’ve got 5 seats, a spacious trunk, great fuel economy, several color options, it even comes with Bluetooth! The Nissan Versa Note is truly a minimalist's’ dream come true.
3. Honda Fit: The Social Option
If you find yourself always driving your friends around, then the fuel economy, legroom, and reliability of a Honda Fit is just what you need. This midsize car comes in at $16,470 new. This car also comes with the option fold down the back for more trunk space if need be. Along with Honda’s reputation for cars with longevity and low maintenance costs, the Honda Fit is an excellent life choice for an upcoming graduate.
2. Chevrolet Trax: The Standard
This Chevrolet model is fairly standard, coming in at $20,995 at most. It comes regularly with a dashboard touchscreen including all the features you could want, Bluetooth, rear camera, etc. You can opt into a sunroof or other add-ons, but the default model is generous in providing everything you need for safety and style.
1. Kia Soul: The All-Around Winner
Surprised? Thought you might be. But this Kia has a balance of practicality, affordability, safety features, and style that any college graduate can appreciate. The Kia Soul costs around 16k new, less if you get it certified pre-owned. You can get it with extra safety features, tech equipment, and decorate it with a colorful palette to make it uniquely ‘you.’ All-around, we can’t recommend this car enough for graduates. Take it for a test drive, talk to someone at a dealership about the car, or chat with someone who already drives one, you’ll see what we’re getting at.
Now that you have a list of options to start with, we wish all of the 2017 graduating class the best in all your future endeavors! If you want to know more about any of these models, or you’ve taken the plunge, make the big purchase, and need a check up on your new ride, you know where to find us at Gary’s Auto Service! We’ll be glad to make sure you’re driving safe and would love to hear about your experiences on the road. See you soon!