Low interest rates and pent up demand are two of the biggest factors driving consumers to the car lot right now, which is probably why car sales for June were positive for most car manufacturers. If you're in the market for a new car for yourself, or your college-aged kid, there are plenty of options out there to choose from.

SEE: 5 Tips For Dealing With Car Dealers

Many sub-compact and compact cars make our list of best cars for college students, but don't let those classifications conjure up thoughts of a bare-bones piece of metal with four wheels. Many of these vehicles come with a good amount of standard options and great gas mileage, all for a price that will leave enough left over for student loan payments.

Hyundai Accent
If you've never stepped foot on a Hyundai car lot, you should. Great styling, long warranties and dependable vehicles have won Hyundai a lot of attention. The least expensive of the manufacturer's lineup is the Accent, which was fully redesigned for the 2012 model and offers great styling and a good price.
The 2013 base model (car models run a year ahead) retails for around $14,545, which isn't the cheapest on our list, but it comes with a six speaker sound system, air conditioning, auxiliary and USB ports, and much more. To top it all off, you won't be topping it off very often. The vehicle gets an estimated 30-mpg city and 40-mpg highway.

Ford Fiesta
With the 2013 Fiesta, you can choose from the sedan or sporty hatchback. The MSRP for the sedan starts at roughly $13,995, and you'll have to kick in an extra $1,000 if you want the hatchback version. If your college student is looking for connectivity in the car, which he or she probably is, Ford's SYNC and SYNC APP features allow you to link a smartphone to the car for hands-free calling, incoming texts read out loud, music streaming from the phone and the option of adding turn by turn directions.

You'll either pay extra for the SYNC package or have to upgrade to more than the base model to get the SYNC standard features. All the models get 29-mpg in the city and 39-mpg on the highway, except for the SFE package, which will make it an even 40-mpg on the highway.

SEE: Ways To Save Money At The Pump

Honda Fit
If you're looking for some of the best storage capacity for a small car, look no further than the Honda Fit. The Fit only comes as a hatchback and starts at a base price of about $15,325. The engine has slightly less power than some of the other cars on this list, with only 117 horsepower offered in both models, but the Fit comes with a long list of standard features. Air conditioning, keyless entry, power windows and locks, and cruise control all come standard on the base model.

Fuel economy for the Fit isn't as impressive as some other cars in its class, but it's certainly not bad. The manual transmission will get 27-mpg city and 33-mpg highway, with the base model automatic transmission doing a little better at 28-mpg city and 35-mpg highway.

Nissan Versa
If you're looking for one of the least expensive cars for your college student, then be sure to swing by the Nissan dealership. The sedan version of the Versa starts at just $10,990 and offers air conditioning, traction control, ABS, six airbags and class-leading leg room.

If you're a college student and are looking at the hatchback version, expect to pay about $4,000 more. The hatchback will include a larger and more powerful engine and some extra standard options not found on the base sedan model. The sedan models will bring you 30-mpg city and 38-highway, while the hatchbacks will bring in a maximum of 27-mpg city and 36-mpg highway.

SEE: What Determines Gas Prices?

Chevy Cruze
Starting at $16,800, the 2012 Chevy Cruze is the most expensive on our list, but take into consideration that it won "Best Compact Car for the Money" from U.S. News and World Reports. The Cruze offers an optional turbo-charged engine and an optional 42-mpg eco package, so it's potentially one of the sportiest and most gas sipping as well.

The base model offers air conditioning, power windows, axillary audio input and three free months of SiriusXM Satellite radio. Depending on which model you choose, the fuel economy will vary. The best you'll do is 28-mpg in the city and 42-mpg in the city with the eco package, but even the base model will get you 36-mpg on the highway.

The Bottom Line
If you're looking to buy an inexpensive car for your college student, or yourself, there are many cars available for you to choose from. Other cars not listed here, but that may be worth looking into are the Mazda2, Honda Civic, Toyota Yaris and the Kia Forte. With so many options in compact and sub-compact categories, you're sure to find the right fit if you are a college student.

Related Articles
  1. Insurance

    Top 5 Car Insurance Companies in Texas

    Examine the five biggest automobile insurance companies operating in the state of Texas, ranked based on market share in the state.
  2. Insurance

    Top 8 Car Insurance Companies in New Jersey

    Read about the top personal auto insurers operating in New Jersey, and learn about recent trends in market share among these companies.
  3. Personal Finance

    How To Get That Entry-Level Financial Analyst Job

    Landing a job as a financial analyst takes study, strategy and a lot of hard work. Here's how to hone your competitive edge.
  4. Personal Finance

    Does It Make Sense to Go to College in Europe?

    If you're deciding whether to get a degree abroad, first do your research and talk to alumni who have completed the same program.
  5. Economics

    Understanding Switching Costs

    Consumers incur switching costs when they receive a monetary or other type of penalty for changing a supplier, brand or product.
  6. Investing

    What’s Holding Back the U.S. Consumer

    Even as job growth has surged and gasoline prices have plunged, U.S. consumers are proving slow to respond and repair their overextended balance sheets.
  7. Economics

    Explaining Market Penetration

    Market penetration is the measure of how much a good or service is being used within a total potential market.
  8. Economics

    Calculating the Marginal Rate of Substitution

    The marginal rate of substitution determines how much of one good a consumer will give up to obtain extra units of another good.
  9. Savings

    6 Ways to Save Money on College Supplies

    Tuition and room and board are big expenses, yes, but the cost of textbooks and supplies can add up, too, unless you strategize.
  10. Home & Auto

    5 Cars That Will Save You Money in 2015

    Learn which cars will save you money in 2015, whether you are looking for a compact, mid-size or full-size car, or even a pickup truck.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Good Student Discount

    An auto insurance policy discount available to young drivers ...
  2. Duty Free

    Goods that international travelers can purchase without paying ...
  3. Whartonite

    A graduate of the Wharton School of Business at the University ...
  4. Free Application For Federal Student ...

    The form that must be completed in order to qualify for any type ...
  5. Student Debt

    Money owed on a loan taken out to pay for educational expenses. ...
  6. Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG)

    These are consumer goods products that sell quickly at relatively ...
RELATED FAQS
  1. Can I use my IRA to pay for my college loans?

    If you are older than 59.5 and have been contributing to your IRA for more than five years, you may withdraw funds to pay ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Can I use my 401(k) to pay for my college loans?

    If you are over 59.5, or separate from your plan-sponsoring employer after age 55, you are free to use your 401(k) to pay ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What does marginal utility tell us about consumer choice?

    In microeconomics, utility represents a way to relate the amount of goods consumed to the amount of happiness or satisfaction ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What are some common ways product differentiation is achieved?

    There are many ways to achieve product differentiation, some more common than others. Horizontal Differentiation Horizontal ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What is the difference between an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) and a VAR ...

    An original equipment manufacturer (OEM) is a company that manufactures a basic product or a component product, such as a ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Is the retail sector also affected by seasonal factors?

    Generally speaking, the retail sector is highly seasonal. Almost invariably, sales in the retail sector are highest in the ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center
×

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!