5 Cars to Buy, Now That You Know How Far Things Are From Campus
BOSTON ( MainStreet) Another academic year has begun, and if you (or your child) need a good set of wheels for college or high school, here's a look at Kelley Blue Book's five top picks for Best 2013 Back-to-School Cars.
KBB editors compiled the list by looking at all available 2013 and '14 models starting at $20,000 or less, then choosing the cars they believe offer the best combinations of style, safety and other qualities key to young drivers.
"These models are all affordable and have good fuel economy and they have good cabin technology, which is that's obviously important to [the younger] generation," KBB Managing Editor Jason Allan says. "We also know that young people want to drive something that looks cool, or at least semi-cool."
Allan says most cars at the top of KBB's list have hatchback versions available, "which means you can pretty much move an entire dorm room in what are otherwise small cars."
He adds that all of KBB's top picks have some trim lines that offer 40 miles per gallon or more on the highway, making them great choices for students with little gas money.
Click below to check out KBB's choices for the best back-to-school vehicles available among 2013 models or those 2014s already on dealers' lots. All dollar figures refer to the manufacturer's suggested retail prices for each car's base version.
Fifth-best back-to-school car: 2013 Honda Civic
Base price: $17,965
Honda gave its flagship Civic an unusually extensive update for 2013 after critics and consumers panned a 2012 complete redesign, and Allan says young drivers will love the revamped model's added technology.
For instance, the 2013 Civic comes standard with Pandora radio and voice-activated text messaging, which many rivals offer only as options.
The base Civic coupe also comes standard with manual transmission and a 140-horsepower four-cylinder engine that combine to produce a good 28 mpg/city and 36 mpg/highway (optional automatic transmission adds 3 mpg to highway mileage).
There's also a $19,745 Civic HF sedan that gets 29 mpg/city and 41 mpg/highway and a $24,360 Hybrid Civic sedan that offers 44 mpg/city and 44 mpg/highway.
Whichever version you choose, Allan says the Civic's long-standing reputation for reliability will serve any college kid well. "The last thing you want to deal with when you're away to school is car trouble," he says.
Fourth-best back-to-school car: 2013 Mazda Mazda3
Base price: $16,700 ($16,945 for a 2014)
KBB editors give a big thumbs up to both the 2013 Mazda3 and a redesigned 2014 version that's hitting Mazda dealers' showrooms now.
"Whether you get a 2013 or a 2014, the Mazda3 is really a standout in the under-$20,000 category," Allan says. "We really like its looks and more importantly, it's just so much fun to drive."