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The 13 best new cars for grads

So, you've flipped the tassel on your mortarboard from right to left, and are off on your next adventure, right? Here are 13 sets of fresh new wheels to get you there in style.

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Emme Hall

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2018 Honda Civic Si
1 of 39 Honda

2018 Honda Civic Si

There's a reason everyone and their mother drives a Civic: It's a really, really good car. The turbocharged 1.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine is our top choice, available in the sporty Civic Si seen here, or in the still-quite-good base Civic models.

2017 Honda Civic Si
2 of 39 Nick Miotke/Roadshow

The 2018 Honda Civic sedan starts at $18,840, but you can also have a two-door coupe for $19,250 or a hatchback for $20,050. The Si coupe and sedan both start at $24,100.

2018 Honda Civic Type R
3 of 39 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Of course, you can always go full-on wannabe-racer with the Civic Type R. With more than 300 horsepower, you shouldn't have any problem getting to your first day of work on time.

2016 Mazda Miata
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2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata

A Miata is always the answer, so we couldn't resist putting it on our list. It starts at $25,295, but we like the Club trim, which costs $29,155 and gets you Bilstein shocks, a limited-slip differential and optional Brembo brakes.  

2017 Mazda MX-5 RF
5 of 39 Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

The 2018 MX-5 is available with a soft top or with a supersexy retractable hardtop as on the Miata RF seen here.

2016-mazda-mx-5-miata-long-term-13.jpg
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With a car as small and light as a Miata, 155 horsepower feels like much more. And do yourself a favor, get it with the six-speed manual transmission.

2019 Toyota TRD Pro Tacoma
7 of 39 Toyota

2018 Toyota Tacoma

At some point in your life, everyone could use a truck, and we totally dig the Toyota Tacoma. A 2.7-liter engine is standard with 159 horsepower, but trust us, go for the 3.5-liter V6. The larger engine puts out 278 horsepower and 265 pound-feet torque, all the better for hauling and towing. 

2019 Toyota TRD Pro Tacoma
8 of 39 Toyota

With the TRD Pro model, you can get pretty much anywhere, but if you're more price-conscious, a base SR starts at $25,200 and includes Toyota's suite of advanced driver's aids standard. 

2019 Toyota TRD Pro Tacoma
9 of 39 Toyota

Toyota's Entune infotainment system, however, is merely okay. It doesn't offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. But hey, at least the Tacoma has Qi wireless smartphone charging

2018 Jeep Wrangler
10 of 39 Emme Hall/Roadshow

2018 Jeep Wrangler

If your post-academia plans entail convertible rock-climbing, you can't go wrong with the 2018 Jeep Wrangler. Even the lowest trim comes standard with four-wheel drive and a new electric soft top can easily bring in the sun.

2018 Jeep Wrangler
11 of 39 Emme Hall/Roadshow

Oh, and did we mention the windshield folds down? 

2018 Jeep Wrangler
12 of 39 Emme Hall/Roadshow

The Wrangler starts at $27,495 and comes standard with a strong Pentastar V6 engine, or you can swap in a new 2.0-liter turbocharged engine for an extra $1,000.

2018 Ford Mustang convertible
13 of 39 Ford

2018 Ford Mustang Convertible

Celebrate your academic achievements with some classic Americana: the Ford Mustang Convertible.

2018 Ford Mustang convertible
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A convertible with the 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine starts at $31,180, but we can't resist the 5.0-liter GT with 460 horsepower and a standard six-speed manual transmission. 

2018 Ford Mustang convertible
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Mustang Convertible on the beach. Sounds nice doesn't it? (Just don't get stuck!)

2018 Volvo XC40 Inscription
16 of 39 Volvo

2018 Volvo XC40

If you know you'll be getting a big signing bonus (or have really generous parents), why not splurge on a Volvo XC40? And while you're at it, spring for the top-level Inscription trim, starting at $39,750.

2018 Volvo XC40
17 of 39 Volvo

The XC40 comes in a number of two-tone combinations, like this R-Design model in white with a black roof.

2018 Volvo XC40 Inscription
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The XC40's interior features sleek Swedish design, but it's way better than Ikea. A 9-inch touchscreen houses Volvo's Sensus infotainment system, and everywhere you look, the cabin is nothing but clean lines and lovely inlays.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV
19 of 39 Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Looking for an EV? If range is your top priority, go for the Chevrolet Bolt EV. With 238 miles of all-electric range you should be able to get to work and back with no problem.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt
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The Bolt starts at $37,495 but that can drop down to under $30,000 with federal tax credits, or even less than that, depending on state and local incentives.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt
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A 10.2-inch touchscreen runs the Bolt's intuitive MyLink infotainment system, complete with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

2018 Nissan Leaf
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2018 Nissan Leaf

If you want an EV but are more concerned with price, the Nissan Leaf is a great choice. The smartly designed Leaf starts at $29,990 before state and federal rebates.

2018 Nissan Leaf
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The trade-off? Less range. The Leaf is estimated to get 151 miles of electric range. It's good, but the Bolt goes farther.

2018 Nissan Leaf
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Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are only available on the upper SV trim. Nissan's excellent ProPilot Assist lane-centering system with adaptive cruise control can be had as part of the SV Technology Package. 

2018 Ford EcoSport Titanium
25 of 39 Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

2018 Ford EcoSport

The Ford EcoSport is a cute little crossover that starts under $20,000 and comes standard with a turbocharged 1.0-liter engine.

2018 Ford EcoSport Titanium
26 of 39 Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

For an extra $1,595, you can get a more powerful, 166-horsepower 2.0-liter engine, as well as all-wheel drive.

2018 Ford EcoSport Titanium
27 of 39 Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

An 8-inch touchscreen with Ford's Sync3 infotainment system is available, and it includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta
28 of 39 Andrew Krok/Roadshow

2019 Volkswagen Jetta

For 2019, the VW Jetta is all new and vastly improved thanks to sharper looks, more features and a better ride. 

2019 Volkswagen Jetta
29 of 39 Andrew Krok/Roadshow

Under the hood is a 1.4-liter turbocharged I4 that puts out 147 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. The powerplant gets an EPA-estimated 40 mpg on the highway.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta
30 of 39 Andrew Krok/Roadshow

A 6.5-inch touchscreen is standard, but we recommend upgrading to the 8-inch. Not only is it visually more pleasing, it also comes with Volkswagen's Digital Cockpit. VDC is a fully configurable dashboard that puts all information right in front of the driver. It's guaranteed to impress your Tinder dates.

2018 Hyundai Kona SUV
31 of 39 Chris Paukert/Roadshow

2018 Hyundai Kona

The subcompact Hyundai Kona crossover SUV is a funky little runabout, perfect for those who want to stand out in the crowd. 

2018 Hyundai Kona SUV
32 of 39 Chris Paukert/Roadshow

Available with both front- and all-wheel drive, a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is standard, good for 147 horsepower. We recommending stepping up to a Limited or Ultimate trim, with 1.6-liter turbocharged engine putting out 175 horsepower. 

2018 Hyundai Kona SUV
33 of 39 Chris Paukert/Roadshow

The Hyundai Kona starts at just $19,500 for a base front-wheel-drive model, but a top-of-the-line Ultimate trim will set you back $27,400. 

2018 Subaru Crosstrek
34 of 39 Nick Miotke/Roadshow

2018 Subaru Crosstrek

The all-wheel-drive Subaru Crosstrek is great choice for adventure types who need to get to work, the hiking trails and nearly everything in between. A 2.0-liter engine puts out 152 horsepower and is mated to a six-speed manual transmission in lower trims or a continuously variable transmission in higher models. 

2018 Subaru Crosstrek
35 of 39 Nick Miotke/Roadshow

The Crosstrek gets Subaru's available EyeSight driver's aid technology, with lane-keep assist and adaptive cruise control. The StarLink infotainment system now features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration.

2018 XV Subaru Crosstrek
36 of 39 Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

The 2018 Subaru Crosstrek starts at $21,795 for a base 2.0i model, but our most recent, close-to-fully loaded Limited test vehicle with its tech upgrade ran $30,655.

2017 Kia Soul Turbo
37 of 39 Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

2018 Kia Soul

For fuel-efficient fun, the Kia Soul is a quirky, roomy ride. We particularly like the 1.6-liter turbo model, with 201 horsepower, 195 pound-feet of torque and punchier dynamics.

2017 Kia Soul Turbo
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The Kia Soul starts at $16,200 for the base model with manual transmission, but the top-of-the-line trim with the turbocharged engine starts at $22,650. A $3,000 technology package adds driver aids. 

2017 Kia Soul Turbo
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The Kia Soul comes with the newest-generation UVO3 dashboard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. Users interact via either a 7- or 8-inch color touchscreen depending on options chosen.

See more from CNET's Grads Gift Guide.

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