New College Grads Looking for New Sets of Wheels – Used Wheels

Newly minted alumni expect to spend less than $15K.

by on May.25, 2016

The 2010 Toyota Prius was rated as one of the top choices for new college grads looking for a used car for less than $15,000.

As the calendar hits late May, many new college graduates will be looking forward to kicking off their careers by getting out of their old set of wheels and into another, better vehicle.

A recent survey shows that most college graduates plan to spend $15,000 or less for a vehicle and more likely than not, it’ll be used. In fact, of the 67% of those expecting to get a car, 57% plan to pay for the vehicle without any assistance from their parents.

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“We are pleasantly surprised to learn that today’s college students have relatively rational and moderate expectations toward the cars they’ll buy after graduating and how much they plan to spend,” said CarGurus Editor Steve Halloran.

“We also found that this group has a lot to learn about car ownership costs, but our survey demonstrates they clearly want to be financially independent and make sound decisions.”

(Tesla, Smart, Jaguar, Land Rover among brands bedeviled by software glitches. For more, Click Here.)

What is it exactly that the soon-to-be car buyers didn’t understand? Well, how much insurance costs for starters: 25% believe it will cost $250 or less annually and 28% think it will be $500 or less. The average? $2,000 per year.

The 2011-2014 Chevy Cruze made CarGurus.com's list of top 10 used cars for college graduates.

Regardless of how they’ll pay for that car, $15,000 is a relatively healthy budget for a used vehicle, giving these new grads plenty of options when it comes to what kind of car, truck or sport-ute to purchase in the weeks and months ahead. Website CarGurus.com has formulated a list of options based on the price and preference for style of vehicle of the grad.

For the environmentally friendly graduate, the site recommends the 2014 Nissan Leaf, which can be had for $10,500 to $13,500. Editors note the EV has a range of about 75 miles “and is a great option for graduates living and commuting in the city.”

(Click Here to see details about Hyundai’s plans to grab the No. 2 spot for green vehicles.)

They also give a nod to the 2010 and 2011 Toyota Prius, which can be had for about $12,000 on average. However, it’s not always easy being green so if they’re looking for a simple sedan, here are the suggestions: Volkswagen Jetta, Chevy Cruze, Mazda 6 and Hyundai Elantra.

The model years range from 2010 to 2015 with prices as low as $8k for a 2010 Elantra. “The Cruze has tons of great tech features like Bluetooth connectivity, a 7-inch touchscreen, USB port, Internet radio, and Siri Eyes Free technology,” the site notes.

Looking for some flexibility? Nothing like a hatchback for the new grad. Top picks included the 2010-2014 Kia Soul, 2010-2012 Mini Cooper and 2010-2013 Honda Fit. All come with the latest in convenience technologies, like Bluetooth connectivity, but the Fit was cited for its 20.6 cubic feet of cargo room, 31 mpg combined and high safety ratings.

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The fourth category the site rated was SUVs, offering up just one: 2011 Ford Escape for an average of $13,500, noting it receives some of the best overall ratings from the site’s reviewers.

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