Best Cars for College Students Are Foreign Brands, Says Edmunds, Forbes, MSN Autos

High school graduation is finally here after four long years of highs and lows. In a few short months, or a few short weeks if you or your child has a summer program lined up, it will be time to make the transition to college. If a car is an option on campus, either as a freshman or a returning college student who can finally have their own vehicle, how do you pick the right vehicle for your or your son or daughter’s needs? You look at some of the most trusted automotive media coverage, and they all point toward foreign models that provide cost efficient performance and great resale value. Let’s examine a few of these articles, and their consensus on how to get a vehicle that represents the best option for college adventures.

Edmunds’ let readers decide and they gave Honda over 41.5% of their votes.

At the top of’s list of best used cars for college, the Honda Civic got an overwhelming 32.8% of the vote. The second winner on the list received less than half that amount; the Mazda 3, another foreign option that combines great performance and value, got 15.8% of the total vote. Hyundai, Subaru and another Honda round out the top five. The first domestic entry on the list, the Chevy Cruze, comes in at number 6 with only 6.9% of readers’ votes.

Forbes developed a fairly strict criteria with only 10 recommended vehicles for the college bound, nine of them foreign models.

Forbes has developed their reputation as a no-nonsense business publication, so when they recommended a car for college students, they followed strict criteria: a base model under $20,000 MSRP; at least version of each vehicle with 35 or more MPG; antilock brakes; stability control; six airbags; and each vehicle must retain more than 40 percent of its original value after four years of ownership to simulate a typical period in college. Nine foreign models passed this strict test, including three Honda models, two Toyota models, and one each from other manufacturers such as Hyundai and Mazda. As with Edmunds’ list, the Honda Civic and Honda Fit make reappearances, as do the Toyota Yaris and Hyundai Elantra.

MSN Autos looks at 20 different cars, and names 13 foreign models as the top options.

For MSN Autos, the tC from Toyota offshoot Scion took first place for being reasonably priced and fun for students. Second place, and starting to become very familiar, is the Honda Fit, which we’ve seen from every other source. It’s difficult to beat the reliability of a Honda and the extremely low price tag on the Fit.  In addition, several of the “domestic” options selected by MSN are manufactured internationally.

The consensus, according to some of the most trusted auto publications, seems to be if that if you’re a college student or buying a car for a college student, your best bet is a foreign model that will retain high resale value, while providing you with great MPG and reliability, then there may be an ideal model for you. For a perfect college adventure, make sure you have the number of a trusted foreign car service specialist and a AAA membership.