With another school year right around the corner, parents across the nation are getting ready to ship their kids back to school, and some might even do it in style. For those students looking to land a new ride that is safe, fuel efficient, but also affordable, Kelly Blue Book, a leading provider of new and used car information, has provided both parents and students with a “Back-To-School Cars” list that promises to meet every young drivers’ needs.
Editors at the publication based their hand-picked recommendations on fuel efficiency, car safety, style, versatility, and value. And luckily for broke-as-a-joke college students, each selected car also bears a price tag less than $20,000, and some even lower.
Here are the top 9 cars that Kelly Blue Book recommends your college student cruises to college with:
9. 2013 Subaru Impreza
Taking the No. 9 spot on our list, we first begin with the 2013 Subaru Impreza. With a starting price around $17,873, this 4-door sedan has also already won awards for being among the most affordable small cars currently on the market. It boasts a 25 city/ 34 highway MPG profile and has won top safety ratings from both the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The roomy vehicle proves to be the perfect fit for active students looking for a roomy space to transport friends and other precious cargo, all while ensuring safety and fuel efficiency.
8. 2013 Toyota Prius c
Next up: Toyota Motors’s (NYSE:TM) iconic Prius vehicle, this time of the “C” variety. Not only can this vehicle fall back on a great Prius reputation, but it also doesn’t break the bank. Its starting price falls just below $20,000, but the assurance a parent can have with this car is almost worth the extra cash demanded. And as with any Prius hybrid, its fuel efficiency is also unparalleled, winning it KBB’s No. 1 MPG rating, thanks to its 53 city/ 45 highway MPG.
7. 2013 Volkswagen Golf
KBB is also encouraging its student drivers to go German with this offering. The 2013 Volkswagen Golf isn’t necessarily the most fuel efficient car, but what it lacks in fuel economy, it makes up for in fun, and that’s all that matters, right Mom? Nonetheless, this spunky car starts around $17,667 and also snagged an impressive #5 Affordable Car rating, similar to the Impreza.
6. 2013 Kia Sportage
Kia Motors also sees some facetime on the best back-to-school cars list, thanks to its 2013 Kia Sportage — a vehicle which has already been recognized as a 2013 IIHA Top Safety Pick, pleasing parents everywhere. Starting around $20,000 the sporty SUV is not only nice to look at, but also posts a 21 city/ 28 highway MPG figure. Its standard features aren’t luxurious by any means but still effectively meet a stressed student’s needs.
5. 2013 Honda Civic
And where there’s a Prius, there has to be a Civic. Luckily, Honda Motor Company’s (NYSE:HMC) 2013 fits the best back-to-school-car bill, no matter if we’re talking about the 4-door sedan or the 2-door coupe. The vehicle takes top-5 on KBB’s list thanks to its affordable starting price of $18,1000 and its 28 city/ 39 highway MPG. Critics have long adored the flexibility and durability of the Civic, and KBB is confident students will too.
4. 2013 Mazda MAZDA3
Mazda Motor Corp wants in on the back-to-school fun as well and is confident the 2013 model of its Mazda3 is just what every college student needs. And luckily for cash-strapped college kids, a new 2014 is on the way, so the 2013 model could be negotiated at an ever more attractive price than its initial starting target of $17,108. We also can’t forget to mention that US News ranked the vehicle No. 1 in Affordable Small Cars, so there’s that.
3. 2014 Chevrolet Sonic
Moving on down the list we come to General Motors’ (NYSE:GM) 2013 Chevrolet Sonic — the perfect car for the 2013/2014 school year. Starting just under $15,000, this little car has an impressive fuel economy of 40 MPG and also effectively assuages any parental safety concerns with the promise of 10 airbags. The Sonic is available as a hatchback or sedan, and is the perfect fit, just as long as your student doesn’t overpack.
2. 2014 Ford Focus
Ford nabs a spot on KBB’s list with its 2014 Ford Focus, a regularly celebrated car that has been satisfying drivers for years.The vehicle is a parent’s dream with its top safety ratings, roomy cabin, and impressive fuel efficiency figures. Students can get their hands on the car for a starting price of $17,105 and we should also add that KBB ranks it #1 for best horsepower thanks to its 160-horsepower engine.
1. 2014 Nissan Versa Note
And Nissan Motors makes it debut on the list, sitting pretty at No. 1 with its 2014 Nissan Versa Note. Not only does it start at under $15,000 (!) but it also doesn’t lack in fuel efficiency, evidenced by its 40 MPG. The top back-to-school car promises to not only safely deliver your college student right to the door of his or her dorm, but also pledges to do it in style.