Top 10 cars for college students

John Egan

Parents and college students argue about all sorts of things. Among the touchy topics: what kind of car the kid should drive.

Auto dealer CarMax and the nonprofit Insurance Information Network of California have come up with a list of cars that they endorse as student-friendly and parent-friendly. The list is based on fuel economy, design, features, affordability and reliability, as well as safety features recommended by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Their top 10 recommended cars for college students (in alphabetical order) are:

  • Chevrolet Malibu.
  • Chrysler 200.
  • Ford Fusion.
  • Honda Accord.
  • Honda Civic (four door).
  • Honda Element.
  • Hyundai Sonata.
  • Kia Forte.
  • Kia Soul.
  • Toyota Camry.

"Finding that vehicle that has a young driver's desired look and features while meeting a parent's budget and safety requirements can be quite a challenge," Stephane Kintz, a purchasing manager for CarMax, says in a news release. "Doing online research, test driving different models and having open conversations about this purchase can lead to a choice that fulfills everyone's criteria."

Candysse Miller, executive director of the Insurance Information Network of California, points out that the make and model of a car affects how much you pay for auto insurance. "So selecting a car that's performed well in crash tests may save your life — and save you money," Miller says.

The nonprofit Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association says newer cars are designed with safety in mind, so "don't assume an old clunker is your best insurance bet."

Auto insurance rates for younger drivers, particularly teens, are always higher than for more experienced drivers because they pose a higher accident risk, according to the nonprofit Insurance Information Institute. Adding a teen to an auto insurance policy can mean a 50 percent to 100 percent hike in the parents' premium, the institute says. However, getting a separate policy for a younger driver could be even costlier.