Best Used Cars for College Students

Best Used Cars for College Students

College students have a lot going on in their lives. It's important to have a reliable used car that can get to class and work on time. The ideal used car will also keep their finances in check and provide the safety features needed to protect them wherever they go.

There are many dependable, cheap used cars in the area. To help you find the one with the performance and features for your life on campus, Val-U-Line® is here with your guide to the best used cars for college students.

Drum roll, please. Our top picks for the best used cars for college students are:

  • Toyota Corolla
  • Hyundai Elantra
  • Honda Civic
  • Toyota Prius
  • Ford Escape
  • MAZDA3
  • Ford Mustang


Quick Facts

Toyota Corolla

· EPA-estimated 28 city/37 highway MPG1

· 42.3 inches of front legroom

· Star Safety System

Hyundai Elantra

· EPA-estimated 27 city/37 highway MPG2

· 145 horsepower

· Over 110 cubic feet of total interior volume

Honda Civic

· EPA-estimated 30 city/39 highway MPG3

· 143 horsepower

· Over 90 cubic feet of passenger volume

Toyota Prius

· EPA-estimated 51 city/48 highway MPG4

· 134 net horsepower

· 42.5 inches of front legroom

Ford Escape

· Available Intelligent 4WD System

· About 67 cubic feet of maximum cargo volume

· 3,500 pounds of maximum towing capacity5


· EPA-estimated 30 city/41 highway MPG6

· 155 horsepower

· 47.1 cubic feet of cargo space with 5-Door configuration

Ford Mustang

· Up to 435 horsepower with V8 engine

· 0 to 60 MPH in less than 6 seconds

· 44.5 inches of front legroom

Toyota Corolla

Used Toyota Corolla Red

The Toyota Corolla is the ideal used car for just about any college student. Its eye-catching designs will help you stand out on campus, while its efficient performance is just what you need to skip the trip to the gas station.

This used sedan is all about efficiency. Most models achieve an EPA-estimated 28 city/37 highway MPG.1 It's thanks in part to the 1.8L 4-cylinder engine. When it's coupled with the more efficient continuously variable transmission, it can provide a boosted EPA-estimated 29 city/38 highway MPG.1

Connectivity is a strong suit of the Toyota Corolla. The Entune Multimedia system-available with some models-is anchored by a responsive touchscreen display. It gives you access to innovative available technology, like:

  • iPod® connectivity and control
  • Bluetooth® wireless technology
  • HD Radio
  • SiriusXM®
  • Entune Premium Audio

Confidence comes naturally in a pre-owned Toyota Corolla. It comes standard with the Star Safety System. There's also an available integrated backup camera, which gives you a better view of what's behind you. It even shows you the vehicle's projected path as you steer, so you'll really be able to show off your parking skills in the campus lot.

Browse our used Toyota Corolla inventory online.

Hyundai Elantra

The Hyundai Elantra is in a class all its own. It comes with the latest engine innovations that help make it just as efficient as it is powerful. It's also compact on the outside with an overall length of only 179.1 inches, yet spacious on the inside with over 110 cubic feet of total volume.

You'll enjoy an EPA-estimated 27 city/37 highway MPG with most used Elantra sedans.2 It comes standard with a 1.8L 4-cylinder engine, which works alongside a 6-speed automatic or manual transmission. There's also an Active ECO System. When activated, it constantly modifies the performance of this sedan to maximize fuel economy.

Do you want to add a little more adrenaline to your ride? The Elantra is available in a Sport configuration. It comes with a 173-horsepower, 2.0L Gasoline Direct Injection 4-cylinder engine that'll really get your heart racing. It may also include the following:

  • Sport-tuned suspension and steering
  • Aluminum sport pedals
  • Front aluminum entrance sills
  • Black chrome grille accents
  • Chrome exhaust

There's also the Hyundai Elantra GT trim. This body style is available with some model years. It brings you the convenience of a 5-door hatchback and expands the interior space to 119 cubic feet of volume. That'll give you more room to carpool with your buddies and move everything into your dorm room when the semester begins.

PS: We have used Hyundai Elantra models for sale!

Used Honda Civic

Used Honda Civic

The Civic has always been one of the most prominent cars in the Honda lineup. Its reputation for dependability and style has made it one of the most popular options for college students and just about any other driver that's searching for a great used car.

A used Honda Civic delivers a performance that's full of power while maintaining efficiency. The 1.8L i-VTEC® 4-cylinder engine-standard with most models-gets 143 horsepower. That power can be paired with features like a continuously variable transmission and Eco Assist System that help the Civic get about an EPA-estimated 30 city/39 highway MPG when properly equipped.3

You'll find used Honda Civic sedans packed with entertainment options. It'll be easy to keep up with your favorite music and smartphone apps right from the available 7-inch display. You'll have command of features like:

  • Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink®
  • SMS text message function
  • Pandora® compatibility
  • Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System
  • SiriusXM® Radio

The interior of this used sedan is also quite spacious to ensure comfort for everyone in the carpool. A pre-owned Civic can have more than 90 cubic feet of passenger volume on top of 42 inches of front-row legroom. If you're looking to move some small items into your dorm throughout the semester, pop open the trunk for over 12 cubic feet of cargo capacity.

Browse our inventory of used Honda Civic models here!

Used Toyota Prius

If you're looking for the enhanced efficiency of a hybrid, the Toyota Prius may be for you. Its innovative hybrid powertrain comes standard, so impressive fuel economy comes naturally. It's coupled with innovative systems under the hood for a smooth and seamless performance.

The Prius generates 134 net horsepower between the gas and electric motors. They also help it achieve an EPA-estimated 51 city/48 highway MPG.4 That'll give you the power you want to enjoy the ride and the efficiency needed to minimize your trips to the gas station. The Prius can even run solely on electric power over short distances to boost fuel economy.

On top of being an efficient and affordable used car, a used Toyota Prius is equipped with an array of features for safety. That makes it just as popular with parents as it is with students. The Star Safety System comes standard on most models and includes the following features:

  • Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control
  • Traction Control
  • Anti-lock Brake System
  • Electronic Brake-force Distribution
  • Brake Assist
  • Smart Stop Technology®

This used hybrid is also known for its comfortably spacious interior. There are about 38 inches of headroom and 42 inches of legroom for the front seats, so you're free to stretch out a bit during your commutes around campus. You may even be able to give your friends a ride to class. Will you ask for gas money? That's up to you. They don't need to know you're driving a hybrid.

Browse our used Toyota Prius inventory right here!

Used Ford Escape

Used Ford Escape

Whether you're moving into your dorm or going on a spontaneous road trip with friends during spring break, a more spacious SUV is sure to come in handy. A used Ford Escape could be just what you need.

The Ford Escape has been on the market for years. It quickly became one of the top used cars for college students and adults alike due to its consistently capable all-weather performance that's driven by the combination of the standard 2.5L Duratec® I-4 engine and the available Intelligent 4WD System. It optimizes stability and control in adverse conditions so you can enjoy more sure-footed traction behind the wheel.

Any used Ford Escape can deliver a comfortable ride, too. Its spacious interior can seat up to five passengers, and you can expect to have just over 98 cubic feet of passenger volume with most models. You may also be able to enjoy the comfort of available amenities, including:

  • Dual-zone electronic automatic temperature control
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob
  • Leather-trimmed seats
  • Heated front seats
  • Power panoramic Vista Roof®

SUVs are all about cargo space. A used Escape is no exception. Most model years boast over 67 cubic feet of maximum cargo volume. That'll leave room for your bags, camping gear, and dorm supplies. Do you still have more to bring along? Load up a trailer, this SUV can tow anywhere between 1,500 pounds to 3,500 pounds, based on the configuration.

Browse our used Ford Escape inventory right here!


When the Mazda3 first hit the streets, it was one of the top-rated compact cars on the market. Thanks to its sleek style, acute handling, and luxurious interior touches, its appeal has stayed strong throughout the years.

The Mazda3 gives you the option of either a streamlined sedan or a spacious hatchback. The sedan is great for the commuting college student. This ride is aerodynamic and fuel-efficient, so you can get to school, work, and back home in a snap. The weekend warriors will love the boosted 47.1 cubic feet of cargo space in the 5-Door hatchback.

If you're taking a road trip with friends, everyone will want to take your Mazda3. There's plenty of room for everyone to get cozy. This used car can also be packed with premium features that give it an air of luxury. You and your passengers may be able to enjoy the following optional features:

  • Perforated leather-trimmed seats
  • Variable heated front seats
  • SiriusXM® Satellite Radio
  • Bose® 9-speaker Surround Sound system
  • Mazda navigation system

The Mazda3 also boasts safety features that will give your parents more peace of mind when you hit the road. Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and Brake Assist help bring you to a safe and secure halt, while Dynamic Stability Control helps keep you on the right path.

Browse our used Mazda3 inventory right here!

Used Ford Mustang

Used Ford Mustang

The best used cars for college students are usually sensible and meet the ever-changing needs of college life, but let's face it: If you're looking to be the coolest kid on campus, you need a used car that'll make you stand out from the crowd. That's where the legendary, all-American Ford Mustang comes in.

The Ford Mustang has the ideal blend of value and fun. If you're looking for a cheap used sports car, it may be right up your alley. Its base engine is a 300-horsepower V6 engine, but there are some pre-owned models equipped with the unrivaled V8 engine. It pumps out over 400 horsepower and can be coupled with these motorsports-inspired performance features:

  • Limited-slip rear differential
  • Launch control
  • Brembo 6-piston front brake calipers
  • TORSEN® helical gear differential

A performance machine like the Mustang is sure to turn a lot of heads. Its racecar-inspired profile will help make sure you keep everyone's attention. The fastback rake, distinctive tail, and hood scoop are for more than just good looks. They help optimize the performance of this speedster so you can make the most of every ride.

Your friends are sure to ask for a ride in this exhilarating used car. Luckily, there's room to seat three of them. They can sit back in the leather-trimmed seats and hold on tight. You can all rock out with the available Shaker Pro Audio System. It comes with 12 speakers on some models.

Browse our used Ford Mustang inventory right here!

Find One of the Best Used Cars for College Students Today

If you're a college student and searching for the best, cheap, and reliable used car for your lifestyle, be sure to check out these top options. Thanks to their dependable performance and reliability, they can help you get to and from campus. More importantly, they can get you from freshman orientation to graduation. We're here to help you find the best car for you while you're in college.

To learn more about these and other affordable used cars for college students, contact Val-U-Line® today.

More Car-Buying Resources for College Students:

1 2015 Corolla LE Eco EPA 30 city/42 hwy/35 combined mpg estimates. Actual mileage will vary. Does not include LE Eco Plus and LE Eco Premium.

2 Fuel economy estimated by EPA for comparison only. Mileage may vary.

3 30 city/39 highway/33 combined mpg rating for CVT models without paddle shifters. 29 city/38 highway/33 combined mpg rating for CVT models with paddle shifters. 31 city/41 highway/35 combined mpg rating for HF model. Based on 2015 EPA mileage ratings. Use for comparison purposes only. Your mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle.

4 Based on 2009 EPA mileage estimates, reflecting new EPA fuel economy methods beginning with 2008 models. Use for comparison purposes only. Do not compare to models before 2008. Your actual mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle.

5 When properly equipped.

6 Based on EPA estimates for 2015 Mazda3 i 4-Door models with 2.0L engine and automatic transmission 30 city/41 highway MPG. Actual results will vary.