13 Best Cars For College Students in 2024

By CarsFellow 11 Min Read

With the high cost of living scaring students away from living independently and the limited availability of affordable accommodations, many students are now commuting to campus. If you’re keen on saving some cash, commuting could be a smart move. Instead of shelling out thousands for a tiny room, you could snag yourself a decent set of wheels for less.

We’ve rounded up some budget-friendly cars that won’t guzzle fuel and still have enough room for your pals. Plus, parking can be a nightmare around colleges, so we’ve chosen cars that won’t take up too much space. And here’s the kicker: some of these cars come with leasing options that won’t break the bank. So, for the price of a dorm room, you could be cruising around in a shiny new ride.

Best Cars For College Students

1. Dacia Sandero

Dacia Sandero
Source: Autocar

Even though it’s not crowned as Britain’s absolute cheapest ride anymore, the Dacia Sandero still holds a special place in our hearts as a budget-friendly option. Sure, it’s not flashy, but the latest versions do have a bit of style to them. You can lease one for about £200 per month, which isn’t bad at all. Plus, because they’re so affordable from the get-go, you can snag a relatively new model for a steal on the used market. They might not be the trendiest wheels in the college lot, but they’re a practical choice.

2. Hyundai i10

Hyundai i10
Source: Topgear

Next up, we’re sticking with practicality with the i10. It’s not the roomiest or the comfiest, especially if you’re hitting the motorways a lot, but it’s got a decent boot and a sleek look. What’s even better is that you can lease a new one for a bargain, and there are plenty of nearly new options on the used market that won’t break the bank. So, if you’re after something that’s easy on the wallet and still looks sharp, the i10 might just fit the bill.

3. SEAT Ibiza

SEAT Ibiza
Source: Thecarexpert

If you’re after some serious cool factor, look no further than the SEAT Ibiza. It’s hands down one of the slickest rides you can snag at this price range. Not only does it turn heads, but it’s also a blast to drive, perfect for those long hauls to class. And even if leasing isn’t your thing, you can still find older models on the used market for a steal, with even the previous generations holding up pretty well in the style department. So, if you’re all about style and substance, Ibiza could be your perfect match.

4. Volkswagen Polo

Volkswagen Polo
Source: Swanswaygarages

Looking for that big car feel in a small package? Look no further than the Volkswagen Polo. It’s impressively roomy and comfy for those long journeys, and the interior feels downright luxurious compared to other budget options. Sure, leasing a new one might set you back a tad more, but it’s still reasonable. And if you’re eyeing a used model, you’re in luck – there are plenty available, offering great bang for your buck. So, if you’re after a small car with big comfort and style, the Polo has got you covered.

5. Ford Fiesta

Ford Fiesta
Source: Carwow

The Ford Fiesta is a hit with younger drivers for good reason – it’s stylish, economical, and a blast to drive. While leasing might not offer the best bang for your buck compared to other options, the used market is brimming with tempting deals. You can snag high-spec, sporty models without breaking the bank. So, if you’re after a car that’s both practical and packs a punch, the Fiesta could be just what you’re looking for.

6. Mini 3-Door Hatch

Mini 3-Door Hatch
Source: Autocar

If you want to roll up to uni in style, the Mini hatchback is a top pick. While new ones can be a bit pricey, you can snag some sleek, well-equipped older models on the used market. Sure, running costs might be a tad higher, and they’re not the most reliable, but take a chance and you’ll be rewarded with a chic interior and one of the most enjoyable driving experiences in the small car category. So, if you’re after a car that’s as fashionable as it is fun, the Mini could be your perfect match.

7. Nissan Leaf

Nissan Leaf
Source: Edmunds

Now, the Nissan Leaf might seem like an unexpected choice, and it’s not for everyone. Leasing can be a bit pricier, but if you can charge up at home, you might save big on fuel costs. If you’re eyeing up some bargains in the used market, you’ll likely find early models with limited range – less than 80 miles in real-world conditions. So, consider this option only if you have easy access to charging at home and won’t need to rely too much on pricey public charge points.

8. Honda CR-V

Honda CR-V
Source: Edmunds

The Honda CR-V, even after its 2023 makeover, faces stiff competition in the compact SUV market, but it’s still a top pick for college-goers. Known for its efficiency and ample space, the CR-V ticks the boxes for both passengers and cargo.

Under the hood, you’ll find a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine packing 190 horsepower, delivering a smooth and lively ride. Safety-wise, this Honda shines with its advanced technology and solid performance in crash tests, making it a smart choice for students prioritizing safety on the road.

9. Toyota Yaris

Toyota Yaris
Source: Carsguide

Now, whether you find the Toyota Yaris cool boils down to whether you’re into fuel efficiency and reliability. Trust us, there are plenty of us who do! But even if you’re not sold on that, the latest Yaris holds its own in the looks department and offers a decent drive. Plus, its slightly higher leasing cost is balanced out by stellar fuel economy. Sure, you could opt for an older, cheaper Yaris within our £5,000 budget, but they might not be as exciting as the newer ones. Nevertheless, they’re still solid when it comes to reliability – you can count on them not to let you down.

10. Vauxhall Corsa

Vauxhall Corsa
Source: Motor1

The Vauxhall Corsa holds the title of Britain’s best-selling car, and it’s not hard to see why. The latest version is easy on the eyes and comes at a reasonable price considering its size. While it may seem a bit pricey upfront, leasing won’t break the bank if you’re eyeing the newest model. However, the real bargains lie in the used market, given the Corsa’s popularity. Regardless of which model you choose, you can count on it being affordable to fuel, insure, and repair if needed.

11. Toyota Corolla

Toyota Corolla
Source: Theautohost

The Toyota Corolla has been a trusted choice on college campuses for its practicality and great bang for your buck.

Whether you opt for the hatchback or sedan, you’ll get plenty of space to haul your stuff around. With a base 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine putting out 169 horsepower, it’s got enough oomph for city driving. Plus, Toyota sweetens the deal by including a bunch of safety features as standard across all models, making the Corolla an even smarter choice for students prioritizing safety and value.

12. Citroen C3

Citroen C3
Source: Behance

The Citroen C3 is gunning for the title of the cheapest car in the UK, which is pretty impressive considering it’s also stylish and offers a comfy ride. While it might not get your heart racing, if you’ve got a long commute, the C3 feels like gliding along in your favorite armchair. Older models within our budget might not be as flashy, but they’re just as cozy and won’t break the bank when it comes to running costs. So, if you prioritize comfort and affordability, the C3 could be the perfect fit for you.

13. Subaru Outback

Subaru Outback
Source: Cars

While the Subaru Outback might not be the cheapest option for college students, it’s a wise investment that keeps on giving. Packed with safety features and tech goodies, plus the bonus of standard all-wheel drive (a feature often sold as an add-on elsewhere), it’s a practical choice that balances its price tag with long-term value. In 2024, Subaru ups the ante with even more standard features on the higher trim levels. Whether you stick with the efficient base engine or opt for a turbocharged upgrade, the Outback offers ample space for all your road trip adventures with friends. So, while it may require a bit more upfront, the Outback proves its worth well beyond graduation.

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