Fun, flexible, and frugal, the Kia Soul is a smart and tech-savvy choice to take back to school this fall. The compact crossover fits nicely into those small, hard-to-find campus parking spaces, and its spacious hatchback can carry all of your dorm room furnishings.
Hatchbacks are a staple of the college campus, offering seating for friends and a flexible cargo area. The latest generation of the Mazda3 adds good looks and an exceptional driving character to hatchback practicality. Modern tech in the dashboard includes navigation and phone integration. Fuel economy, averaging in the low 30s, goes easy on a student budget.
The Nissan Juke brings a unique look to a practical, compact SUV. It can fit in small parking spaces yet hold plenty of gear or passengers. The newest model includes NissanConnect, with Google search integrated in the dashboard. For snowbound campuses, the Juke can be had with all-wheel drive.
The little Prius C looks more sporty than its suburban siblings, the Prius Liftback and Prius V, and provides flexible hatchback interior space. Entune integrates useful apps, such as Bing search and Yelp, into the dashboard. The hybrid drivetrain, well proven on the road, wrangles fuel economy in the low 40s.
With the aid of a firmware update coming this summer, the Pioneer AVH-4000NEX will be the least expensive way to add iOS CarPlay integration to the car you currently own. If CarPlay isn't your thing, the touchscreen receiver also supports AppRadio mode for select iOS and Android devices and a host of built-in multimedia sources.
The xProDock's gimmick is as an NFC tag that launches a car-specific interface on an Android phone, putting navigation shortcuts to school and frequently called parents or study buddies at your fingertips. Behind the party trick, however, is a well-designed mount adjustable for a variety of smartphone sizes.
Save fuel driving to and from campus by becoming a more efficient driver with the aid of the Automatic Labs' Automatic Smart Driving Assistant. At the end of each trip, Automatic scores your driving habits with a numerical grade, gives tips to save fuel on the next trip, and helps you to be a smarter driver.
A membership to AAA will cost you $57 per year. Jumper cables can be had for only $10, but you will need the help of another driver. The PowerAll costs $130, but it can jump start your car and charge up your phone. Better yet, you can carry it in your bag or stow it in the glove box. The PowerAll is essential safety equipment for cars with unreliable electrics.