College students have a lot to think about. If going away to school, registering for class on time, moving in, and getting around are just a few considerations. You may need a car depending on the college you attend. And if you have a student on their way to college, you’ll want them to have a vehicle with high crash-test scores by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

If you’re off to college and wondering, “What car should I buy?”, here are some things to think about:

Do You Need a Car?

You may want a car for convenience, but do you really need it? If not, it’ll just add expenses and be a distraction. Some colleges have limited parking and don’t allow first-year students to have cars. Unless you live off-campus or have a job that requires commuting or travel, a car may not be necessary.

Features to Look For

If a car is a necessity, the one to buy depends on some key features. A used car can save some money, and most are only a few years old. Lower mileage vehicles are best since you usually don’t have wear and tear or repairs to worry about. Late-model used cars often have low mileage and the latest features.

Some top considerations include:

  • Safety: In addition to safety ratings, check for safety features. The latest include forward collision warning, blind-spot monitor, automatic braking, and other driver-assist safety systems. These can reduce the risk of an accident and even lower your insurance premium. Check with the NHTSA and IIHS for safety ratings and information.
  • Fuel Efficiency: Gas mileage impacts the cost of owning a vehicle. A more efficient car can be driven farther without filling up, which is great for long commutes. If you’re planning on keeping the car after graduation, you may need it for work. But while in college, your budget may be limited, and there are always gas prices to consider.
  • Vehicle Features: Younger drivers usually don’t need higher horsepower engines, so can get by with a base engine. They also typically look for smaller cars, but midsize and even larger cars are safer. Four doors, interior storage, voice recognition systems for the radio and temperature control, and ease of parking are some other beneficial features.

What Car Should I Get?

When you look at cars recommended for college students, some familiar names often appear, such as:

  • Toyota Corolla: Later model years feature Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.0 and the vehicle is a Top Safety Pick by the IIHS. Over the entry-level model, the LE has a blind-spot monitor with a rear cross-traffic alert and various connectivity features.
  • Honda Civic: Also rated high for safety, the Civic is packed with driver aids and is as fuel efficient as the Corolla. It’s also often a Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Award winner. If you’re willing to level up with an SUV, the CR-V is both compact and roomy to accommodate friends and gear.
  • Hyundai Elantra: The 2021 model has the SmartSense suite of safety features plus high-beam assist and an 8-inch touchscreen. It also gets an estimated 37 mpg combined gas mileage. The Elantra is sleek and efficient, and scoring a later model can mean enjoying the look of a complete redesign.

These aren’t the only cars to think about. When it comes to used cars, you can get a great deal on reliable vehicles with a range of connectivity and safety features. A later model year Camry, Prius, or RAV4 can meet your needs. But it can pay off to check out a Mazda3, Kia Soul, Honda Accord, or timeless-looking Volkswagen Jetta.

Do Your Car Shopping at Hawthorne Auto Square

If you can afford a car for college, our large inventory consists of most major makes and models. We’ll help you get pre-approved for financing. A buy here, pay here dealership, our business offers many in-house programs and can approve you regardless of your credit. Are you going off to college and wondering, “What car should I buy?” Contact our sales team at 866-707-7664 or visit our showroom to learn more.