Science

Autos: Top Cars for College Students

A top five list of the best picks for college or post-grad students.

Photos courtesy of Creative Commons

This is a part of the science desk's Autos series, which will run every other week.

You’ve seen it in the news: most millennials just aren’t buying cars. However, with many students taking jobs outside of campus or moving far from home, student vehicles are fairly common on campus. Because of this, we’ve created a list of best vehicles for college students:

1)The practical option: Honda Fit. A common sight on the streets of downtown Madison, the Honda Fit may just be the most practical small car on the market. Honda engineers are wizards of internal cargo space, and nowhere is this more evident than in the Fit’s storage area, with 16.6 cubic feet of storage behind the second row. However, folding all the seats down yields an eye-popping 52.7 cubic feet. For reference, this is larger than some SUVs that cost twice as much. Couple that space with a techy interior, easy-as-pie parking, and a fuel-efficient engine, and you’ve got a recipe for an almost-perfect college car.

2)The reliable option: 2000-2018 Toyota Camry. We put a wide model range on this for one reason: these things are dependable. A regularly-serviced Camry can easily reach into the 200,000-mile range, and likely much further than that. Hell, we reckon you could drive one of these things into Lake Mendota and back out again. Well, maybe not, but you get the point. If you need a car that won’t let you down, the Camry is a great place to start.

3)The fun option: 1990+: Mazda MX-5 Miata. So maybe you have zero need for practicality and just need something that’s a blast to drive around – look no further than the Mazda MX-5, aka the Miata. Pretty much any model year will do, as they all incorporate three things: a convertible top, an eager four-cylinder, and (hopefully) a short-throw manual transmission. Maybe manuals aren’t your thing, but Mazda’s are designed for driving pleasure and a manual only enhances this further.

4)The safe option: Subaru Impreza/Forester: sharing the same architecture until just this year, the Impreza and Forester are both known for their practicality and safety when it comes to winter driving. With symmetrical all-wheel drive, these vehicles will laugh at winter forecasts and scoff as students slip and slide on the sidewalks.

5)The wildcard: Kia Soul. This funky box/pseudo-SUV is a great value for the money, offering a wealth of futures and unique style to go with its hamster-clad boxy shape. Kia has sold so many of these, they’re pretty easy to find on the used market as well. They’re also reasonably practical, with a hatchback design and a total of 61.3 cubic feet of space with all the seats down.

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