Economical back to school rides

New or used, these vehicles give the most bang for your scholar’s buck

File Photo
Richard Perry

Greetings from The Hemet Car Guy,

Parents and students have been visiting the dealership to look for back to school vehicles, and I’m often asked my opinion about the best cars with low sticker prices, low associated insurance premiums and minimal operating expenses.
I thought about it for a while, and here are my picks for the top six economical vehicles with the lowest combined sticker price, and the best mpg. Students shopping for new or used cars should consider miscellaneous costs associated with owning a car, such as finance charges, gas, insurance, maintenance, parking, taxes, tags, and potential tickets and citations – just ask my son Benjamin, he has three tickets and is paying dearly – those incidentals and unexpected costs really hits home for cost of ownership of a vehicle of any kind. Tickets can also raise insurance rates or even result in the cancellation of your policy – so obey the laws and look both ways!
Even though I consider myself a used car guy, I’m also a new car broker. The MSRP prices I’m showing don’t include destination cost and other options that you may like, and don’t forget those miscellaneous costs mentioned above. New or used, here are six affordable, fun and reliable cars for today’s student, in no particular order.

Chevrolet Aveo MSRP: $12,685; EPA Mileage: 30 mpg
The Chevrolet Aveo is an American car and one of the most economical vehicles for college students. It comes equipped with a 3-year/36,000-mile limited vehicle coverage warranty, and a five-year/100,000-mile limited coverage powertrain warranty.

Hyundai Accent MSRP: $10,690; EPA Mileage: 31 mpg
The Hyundai Accent is also in the top ranking of least expensive vehicles for today’s cost-conscious college student. Described by “Car and Driver” as “delightful,” the Accent has a sticker price of less than $11,000 brand new, and boasts affordability, sleek styling, a 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty, and a 10-year/100,000-mile drivetrain warranty, which is reduced to 60,000 miles for subsequent owners.
Test drivers said the Kia Rio sedan was “cute and fun to drive.” It’s also affordable.

Kia Forte MSRP: $14,390; EPA Mileage: 29 mpg
The Kia Forte, the largest, most spacious vehicle on this list, is also the least fuel efficient. But don’t let the fuel economy deter you – as an added bonus: Kia, like Hyundai, offers an industry-leading 5-year/60,000 mile limited basic warranty and a 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty on new vehicles, which is reduced to 60,000 miles for subsequent owners.

Kia Rio MSRP: 12,390; EPA Mileage: 31 mpg
The Kia Rio ranked high in a “Car and Driver” comparison test of economy cars, and the test driver rated the vehicle “cute and fun to drive.” Also a top pick of affordable vehicles, the Rio comes with a 5-year/60,000 mile limited basic warranty and a 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty for new purchases.

Nissan Versa MSRP: $10,710; EPA Mileage: 29 mpg
Economics majors love the Nissan Versa sedan, whose bare-bones styling and modest amenities make it an economical choice for today’s college student. The sedan has 14-inch wheels and a 1.6 liter engine.
According to Nissan’s website, the Versa Hatchback offers more than you would expect from its modest price, including AM/FM/CD audio system, auxiliary audio input jack, power windows and door locks, dual power body-color outside mirrors, rear intermittent windshield wiper with washer, and Vehicle Dynamic Control with Traction Control System.
The Versa offers a 3-year/36,000-mile limited vehicle coverage warranty, and a 5-year/60,000-mile limited powertrain coverage warranty, making this a smart choice for the financially conscious college student.
If economy and efficiency are your goal, the smart Fortwo Pure Coupe is your answer. Just don’t try moving furniture.

Smart Fortwo MSRP: $12,635; EPA Mileage: 36 mpg
This tiny smart car is also a great choice for of the most cost-effective vehicles for college students. This tiny ride may appear more at home on a bike path than on the highway, but the price tag and the estimated mpg makes this car an excellent choice for the cash-strapped college student. Smart cars have a 2-year/24,000-mile limited warranty. There are gas and electric drive options.

The take-home
Remember to factor in all the associated miscellaneous costs and fees associated with purchasing a vehicle before buying a car. The fees and costs can easily add up to thousands of dollars on top of the purchase price. Purchasing a used model in good condition can help reduce the costs of ownership even more. Perform all preventive maintenance recommendations to extend the life of your vehicle even further.

Hope this helps, and Good Driving

The Hemet Car Guy

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