From a used Infiniti G35 coupe to a Jeep Wrangler, good college cars can be found all over the automotive market. They must be versatile: under a tight budget, the ideal college car should be fun to drive and reliable, whether it’s new or used. A Motor Trend forum member recently posed a question about college cars under $17,000, and immediately forum members went to work. The college student was looking for a new or used sporty car with under about 45,000 miles and, preferably, one that was easy on gas and insurance.
We turned the thread into a Thread of the Day, and here are our top 10 favorite responses that fit the loose guidelines above:
The Infiniti G35 Coupe was on the original short list. CarNYC summed it up best saying, “Not many used cars can give you the sex appeal, reliability, and bang for the buck as a G35 sedan and/or coupe.”
The Volkswagen GTI was suggested by several commenters for its solid chassis, practical hatchback bodystyle, fuel economy, and looks. A used DSG-equipped model can also be had for the price for the price and mileage limits.
While it might not offer the same definition of fun to drive as a sports car, the Jeep Wrangler is definitely more capable in adverse conditions than lesser vehicles. Aston_Bentley_Arens endorsed the SUV: “Get a Jeep Wrangler! You can do so many things to them after!”
Several suggested the Subaru WRX and the more powerful STI variant for college duty, though Priceless suggested that a low-mileage example may be hard to find.
Fallen79 said, “You could also find a Mustang GT in that range that’s like 3-4 years old and [with] low miles.” Though the insurance on a Mustang V-8 could be prohibitively expensive, a six-cylinder Mustang might be more doable
Many chose the Mini Cooper S, with Tx2Scoop saying, “A used Mini Cooper… and I think the quirky and unexpected can be just as cool as the overtly sporty.” The base Mini Cooper is also a fun ride, as we found in our last test.
Wasapasserby said he’d “vote for a used Mazdaspeed3” and that there is one in his area that fit the price and mileage requirements.
A couple commenters mentioned the Honda Civic Si because of its reputation for reliability, room for people and things, and great fuel mileage. IBx1 called it “an absolute blast to take on a twisty road, and, if done right, they sound fantastic.”
While not the fastest car on the road, a new Chevrolet Sonic 1.4 turbo and manual can be had below our price point. Mchicha suggested the Sonic hatch for the new car warranty.
Beef Cherokee suggested the Scion tC because its “Spacious enough to carry your roommates/homies, decently efficient and fairly cheap. It’s also on the sporty side with lots of mods available.”
So there you have it. Think you can come up with a better college car for under $17,000? Share yours in the comments below.
By Jason Udy