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‘The New York Times’ 11 Best Cars for Graduates

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With the end of the school year approaching, many parents are sending their kids off to college or new jobs out in the real world. Cars are an ever-popular practical, yet extravagant, graduation gift for some students. Anticipating parents’ stress levels, The New York Times published an article in April recommending several affordable vehicle options for 2018 grads.

We’ve compiled a list of the cars mentioned in that article, giving you a chance to browse through the models, some of their specs, and take a look at their price tags. To save even more money, you can consider used options for each of these models.


The New York Times’ 11 Best Cars for Graduates

2018 Kia Soul

2018 Kia Soul Base

The 2018 Kia Soul is an SUV with unique, boxy styling. Its 130-horsepower engine gives you some pep in your step, and the cabin is decorated with available features like a Harman/Kardon audio system.

MSRP: $16,200
Engine: 1.6-liter inline four-cylinder
Output: 130 horsepower and 118 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: Six-speed manual

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2018 Honda HR-V

2018 Honda HR-V

Introduced to Honda’s lineup in 2016, the HR-V is a subcompact crossover that perfectly combines the driving quality of a car with the spacious interior of an SUV. The 2018 Honda HR-V comes with 60/40-split second-row seats so you can customize your seating and cargo space based on your needs.

MSRP: $19,670
Engine: 1.8-liter inline four-cylinder
Output: 141 horsepower and 127 lb-ft of torque
Transmissions: Six speed manual or Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) with Sport Mode

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2018 Hyundai Kona

2018 Hyundai Kona

The 2018 Kona is completely new to Hyundai’s lineup. The 2018 Hyundai Kona is a small SUV that earns great gas mileage, perfect for college students making the long trek to school. When equipped with its standard engine, the Kona earns an estimated 33 mpg on the highway.

MSRP: $19,500
Engine: 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder
Output: 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: Six-speed automatic with SHIFTRONIC

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2018 Toyota C-HR

2018 Toyota C-HR

With unique exterior styling, the 2018 Toyota C-HR doesn’t look like any other SUV on the market. Its front and rear designs have sports car-like styling with dramatic curves and edges. The C-HR comes with the latest technology features including remote keyless entry, push-start button, and remote illuminated entry.

MSRP: $22,500
Engine: 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder
Output: 144 horsepower and 139 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: Continuously Variable Transmission with intelligence and Shift Mode (CVTi-S)

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2018 Honda Fit

2018 Honda Fit

A petite, compact car, the 2018 Honda Fit is perfect for grads headed to the big city. It gets great gas mileage with up to 33 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway. Plus, since it’s a hatchback, you can haul even more cargo than your traditional sedan. The Fit offers up to 16.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row, and an impressive 52.7 cubic feet with the rear seat folded down.

MSRP: $16,190
Engine: 1.5-liter inline four-cylinder
Output: 130 horsepower and 114 lb-ft of torque (Manual); 128 horsepower and 113 lb-ft of torque (CVT)
Transmissions: Six-speed manual or Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) with sport mode

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2018 Subaru Impreza

2018 Subaru Impreza

The Subaru Impreza is another great option to consider for your graduate. Available as either a sedan or a hatchback, the Impreza is customizable to your needs. The hatchback offers up to 55.3 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded; 20.8 cubic feet of space with the seats up. If you opt for the sedan, the trunk offers 12.3 cubic feet of storage.

MSRP: $18,495
Engine: 2.0-liter SUBARU BOXER inline four-cylinder
Output: 152 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque
Transmissions: Fully-synchronized five-speed manual or Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) with Adaptive Control

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2018 Subaru Crosstrek

2018 Subaru Crosstrek

If your grad has a bit more stuff to haul, or they just prefer to drive a larger car, the 2018 Subaru Crosstrek is an affordable, well-equipped option. The cabin is designed with a STARLINK multimedia system, equipped with six speakers and an 8-inch navigation screen on the range-topping trim, as well as leather-trimmed upholstery.

MSRP: $21,795
Engine: 2.0-liter SUBARU BOXER inline four-cylinder
Output: 152 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: Six-speed manual

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2018 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid

2018 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid

Suddenly worrying about filling up your gas tank, especially for those on a college student budget, can be stressful. Luckily, the 2018 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid combines electric and gas power to bump up your fuel economy to 59 mpg on the highway. The best part? You can get this hybrid brand new for less than $25,000.

MSRP: $22,200
Engine: 1.6-liter inline four-cylinder with a 32kW interior-permanent magnet synchronous motor
Output: 139 horsepower
Transmission: Six-speed EcoShift dual clutch with SHIFTRONIC

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2018 Honda Civic

2018 Honda Civic Sedan

One of the popular nameplates on the market, it’s no surprise that the Honda Civic sedan would make it onto this list. Priced fairly, the 2018 Honda Civic comes with seating for up to five passengers, high-tech audio, and driver-assist options like Adaptive Cruise Control for added peace of mind.

MSRP: $18,840
Engine: 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder
Output: 158 horsepower and 138 lb-ft of torque
Transmissions: Six-speed manual or Continuously Variable Transmission (M-CVT)

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2018 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback

2018 Chevrolet Cruze

Another customizable model, the 2018 Chevrolet Cruze is available in both sedan and hatchback configurations. Both models seat up to five passengers, but the hatchback comes with the most storage space of the two — up to 47.2 cubic feet.

MSRP: $16,975
Engine: 1.4-liter ECOTEC turbocharged four-cylinder
Output: 153 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque
Transmissions: Six-speed manual or Six-speed automatic

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2018 Toyota Corolla

2018 Toyota Corolla

Last, but certainly not least, is the 2018 Toyota Corolla. Another standout sedan/hatchback model, the Corolla has been around for decades, so finding a used model won’t be too difficult if that’s what you’re looking for. The new 2018 model comes with infotainment options like Siri Eyes Free, Bluetooth music streaming, and SiriusXM Satellite Radio.

MSRP: $18,600
Engine: 1.8-liter inline four-cylinder with Dual Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i)
Output: 132 horsepower and 128 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) with intelligence and Shift Mode

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Sources: The New York Times