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And considering that nearly 70% of students took out loans in 2018, according to Student Loan Hero, with an average debt of nearly $30,000, most college commuters may be in the market for something affordable.
A used car might be the most practical option. According to Edmunds, “purchasing a vehicle that's about 3 years old will save you perhaps 30% to 40% off the purchase price compared to buying a new version of the same car.”
The site took a look at fuel economy, value, safety and ease of parking, for a number of slightly used vehicles, to find the best used cars for college drivers. The prices listed are the averages paid at a franchised car dealership in the second quarter of 2019.
Here are Edmunds’ picks for top 5 best used cars for college drivers.
2016 Toyota Prius
Best “long-distance commuter”
Average transaction price: $18,909
Fuel economy: 52 to 56 miles-per-gallon in combined city-highway driving
This car has sharp handling, high fuel economy and great comfort, Edmunds says.
2016 Mazda 3
Best “sporty commuter”
Average transaction price: $13,717
Fuel economy: 29 to 33 miles-per-gallon combined
Fuel economy drops compared to the smaller engines, but this is still a fairly frugal choice.
2016 Volkswagen Golf
Best “laundry hauler”
Average transaction price: $14,596
Fuel economy: 29 miles-per-gallon combined
This car’s turbocharged four-cylinder engine provides both power and fuel. Most Golf models come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, too.
2016 Ford Edge
Best “winter-weather transport”
Average transaction price: $22,500
Fuel economy: 20 to 24 miles-per-gallon combined
The Edge is roomier than many other crossover SUVs, Edmunds noted. “It's perfect for getting you and your friends to a ski resort, but not so bulky that it's difficult to drive or park.”
2016 Acura RDX
Best “all-in-one luxury ride”
Average transaction price: $25,960
Fuel economy: 22 to 23 miles-per-gallon combined
The RDX “combines many qualities of the other vehicles, including performance, a big interior and all-wheel drive.” And per Edmunds, it’s “versatile enough to handle many diverse tasks and upscale enough to look sharp on campus without being ostentatious.”