10 Best Cars for Recent Graduates


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Graduation is a big deal. You’re entering a new and exciting chapter of your life. Whether you’re a traditional or returning student, why not reward yourself for this huge accomplishment and drive away with your new diploma in a new-to-you vehicle? Of course, school was a large investment, and we kept that in mind while curating this list of vehicles. We know you’ll be looking for something reliable with great fuel economy.

ReCar wants to help you find your dream new-to-you vehicle at the best possible price. We’re proud of our recent grads and are excited to provide you with a list of the best, most reliable and fuel efficient vehicles to carry you into your next exciting journey!

So, without further ado, here are the 10 best cars for recent graduates.

1. Subaru Impreza

© Subaru

The Subaru Impreza is offered as both a hatchback and sedan body style. With a combined MPG of 31 for the hatchback and 32 for the sedan, this vehicle has a good fuel economy. Other perks in the Impreza include standard all-wheel drive, delivering secure handling and wet-weather traction, a cabin that’s comfortable and surprisingly roomy for a compact car, a healthy selection of advanced safety features available on most trims, and available manual transmission for those who want to row their own gears. Any Impreza can be equipped with EyeSight, which includes traffic-adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking. The Impreza has other advantages, including secure handling, an excellent infotainment system, a comfortable ride, and a cabin with room for four adults.

2. Nissan Versa

© CarBuzz

The Nissan Versa delivers smooth handling for a subcompact vehicle. A smaller car, the Versa runs a combined MPG of 35, but has a suitable cabin to comfortably seat adults in both rows. For a lower budgeted vehicle, the Versa also provides more standard safety features than you may expect. These include pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking. There is also a standard 7-inch touch screen, but an upgrade to the SV trim would be needed to have smartphone integration included.

3. Toyota RAV4

© NewsBreak

Not only does the Toyota RAV4 have a great safety score and predicted reliability rating from J.D. Power, but it also hosts a variety of tech features. A 7-inch touch screen, smartphone connectivity, Amazon Alexa and a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot are all standard in this vehicle. Not only this, but the RAV4, also provides a long list of driver assistance features including cruise control and traffic sign recognition. While the RAV4’s engine is powerful, it runs a combined 30 MPG, and delivers a comfortable ride and handling.

4. Kia Soul

© Edmunds

Another subcompact vehicle with a great safety score and predicted reliability rating is the Kia Soul. Though the Soul may come in a small package, the cabin is roomy enough to comfortably seat adults in both rows, and it has one of the largest cargo areas of any SUV in its class. The Soul also runs a combined 30 MPG. An 8-inch touch screen and smartphone integration are standard features, but an upgrade to the S trim delivers a 10.25-inch touch screen, wireless device charging, and a wide variety of safety features.

5. Hyundai Kona

© Forbes

Having been completely redesigned this year, the low budgeted Hyundai Kona has a nearly perfect safety score, and a combined MPG of 23. An 8-inch touch screen and smartphone connectivity are standard for the Kona, along with 2 USB ports. It also provides a list of driver assistance features including pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking. There is a more powerful turbo available for the Kona, along with further comfortability and convenience features, but the Hyundai Kona’s base model should more than satisfy the basic needs of any recent graduate.

6. Subaru BRZ

© Motor Trend Mag

If you’re looking for a more fun reward for all of your years of study, but still want to remain budget-conscious, check out the Subaru BRZ. Also completely redesigned this year, the BRZ is known as one of the best sports cars around, while remaining a bargain compared to every other sports car on the market. It also runs a competing 25 combined MPG. Now, of course, as with any sports car, you cannot expect a roomy cabin, super comfy back seats, or cargo space of almost any kind. But if you’re looking for a slick and fitted rocket to show off to your graduate colleagues, the BRZ comes with a flat-four engine and a six-speed manual transmission. An 8-inch touch screen, 7-inch digital driver display, and smartphone integration are standard.

7. Honda Civic

Honda Civic
© MotorTrend

It will surely come as no surprise to see the Honda Civic on this list. The Civic has a perfect safety score, and a great predicted reliability rating as well. Running a nice 36 combined MPG, it delivers great gas mileage, outstanding from its class. With comfy seats and roomy space for adults in both rows, the Civic even has considerable trunk space compared to most others in its class. Alongside a wide variety of safety features, a 7-inch touch screen and smartphone integration are both standard with the vehicle. The Civic is also available in both a sedan or hatchback, remaining equally well equipped in the base models.

8. Honda CR-V

Honda CR-V
© The Car Connection

Another not so surprising contender on the list is the Honda CR-V. It also has an excellent safety score and predicted reliability rating. The CR-V also runs a cool 30 combined MPG, with a turbo-four engine that has plenty of zip. The interior of the CR-V is upscale and spacious, leaving plenty of room for comfortable passengers and their cargo. The only potential downfall to the CRV’s interior is its basic infotainment system. If you require a more advanced system as a necessity, the Special Edition trim includes a larger 7-inch touch screen as well as smartphone connectivity. The SE also provides heated seats.

9. Hyundai Tucson

Hyundai Tucson
© Hyundai Canada

The Hyundai Tucson is a great choice for grads for more reasons than one. With a near perfect safety score and one of the highest predicted reliability ratings in its class, it was named a Top Safety Pick by the IIHS. Running at 29 combined MPG, the Tucson is spacious and comfortable for passengers. It has a standard 8-inch touch screen, smartphone integration and multiple safety features including automatic emergency braking.

10. Toyota Corolla

Toyota Corolla
© Edmunds

With a great safety score and predicted reliability ranking, the Toyota Corolla provides a comfortable and enjoyable drive. Available in both sedan and hatchback body styles, it delivers a nice 34 combined MPG.  The interior is upscale and roomy, allowing comfortable space for passengers and their cargo. Standard infotainment features include a 7-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, Bluetooth, two USB ports, satellite radio, and a six-speaker stereo.  The Corolla also has a long list of standard safety features including pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking.


Congratulations to you or your loved one on such an admirable achievement! Graduation is an important and remarkable milestone, and we’re happy to be here with you, helping you find the best vehicle to drive you into the next stage of your life. If you would like to check out any of the available listed models above, you can click on the model you’d like to see in the list, or you can check out our wide variety of pre-loved vehicles right here!

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