The Civic sedan might be a bit more practical, but you might want a little more splash around campus. The Civic Coupe offers everything found in the sedan, such as an Apple CarPlay- and Android Auto-compatible head unit and an available 1.5-liter turbocharged engine, but it lacks the rear doors. That's okay, as forcing your friends to squeeze into the back is a worthwhile price to pay for the Civic Coupe's style.
Fuel economy in the mid-30s and a base price of $19,050 make the Civic Coupe as economical as it is stylish.
Tuned for a more engaging driving experience, the Mazda3 appeals to a more youthful driver, yet remains a practical sedan for the college student. No Android Auto or Apple CarPlay here but if you go to higher trim levels, you get Mazda's own infotainment system featuring navigation. Even at lower trim levels, Bluetooth streaming audio and USB ports are available. For students carrying a bit more luggage, the Mazda3 can be had as a hatchback.
Look for real-world fuel economy in the mid-30s and a base price of $17,845.
As an attractive and inexpensive option for the new or returning college student, the Hyundai Elantra offers a comfortable ride and a quiet cabin. Add the infotainment system to the dashboard and you get nice implementations of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, making for solid and safe smartphone integration. At high trim levels, the Elantra can even be had with advanced driver assists, such as adaptive cruise control and a blind-spot monitor, increasing safety.
Average fuel economy comes in at the low 30s, and the Elantra's base price is $17,150.
Chevy's little Cruze sedan offers some remarkable connectivity, such as the 4G/LTE Wi-Fi hotspot that comes as part of its OnStar telematics system. Along with the hotspot, OnStar adds a lot of security, such as an app to remotely unlock the car doors. With its 8-inch dashboard touchscreen and MyLink infotainment system, the Cruze features Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, further enhancing the connected features.
With its turbocharged 1.4-liter engine, the Cruze averages in the mid-30s for fuel economy, and goes for a base price of $16,620.
Nissan may not have added Android Auto or Apple CarPlay to the Sentra's electronics yet, but the car's available navigation system features integrated Google destination search, making it easy for college students to find their way around a new town. The Sentra is a comfortable, economical little sedan, and upper trim levels can be optioned with a sophisticated adaptive cruise control system that handles both fast and slow traffic.
The smooth-shifting continuously variable transmission means low-30s average fuel economy, and the base price is at $16,780.
The smart-looking little Jetta's base turbocharged 1.4-liter engine may be small, but it generates 150 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, which should be plenty for college students making their way to the dorm or off-campus housing. Optioned up, the Jetta supports both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, making for seamless connectivity with a smartphone.
Fuel economy will average in the low 30s, and the Jetta's base price is only $17,680.
Any college-bound kid worth his or her salt digs a sporty hatchback, and the Scion iM has the look down. But don't worry, parents. Under the hood is a little 1.8-liter engine putting out just 137 horsepower, all the better to keep that speed in check. The good news for those who like to drive is that the iM can be had with a six-speed manual transmission. No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, but the iM gets plenty of standard features including a backup camera, 17-inch alloy wheelsand a six-speaker Pioneer sound system.
Fuel economy for both the manual and the continuously variable transmission will average around 31 miles per gallon and the Scion iM starts at $19,255.
For the college student attached to more than a few material possessions, the Honda HR-V makes for excellent transportation due to its versatile interior space. Its "Magic Seats" fold like origami, letting you configure the the cargo space to accommodate tall, wide or longer items. And if your school is situated in a place with wintry weather, the HR-V can be had with all-wheel drive, adding extra traction for when things get slippery.
Fuel economy averages in the low 30s, not bad for a car of this size, and the base price is only $19,215.
The CX-3 is an odd little car, boasting the stance of a compact SUV but the driving character of a sports car. If you like a car with real road engagement, but also need some cargo area for that back-to-school journey, the CX-3 is a perfect fit. It can be had with all-wheel drive and a dashboard navigation system with a simple interface.
Fuel economy should come in at the low 30s, and pricing starts at $19,960.
With its pickup bed, the Chevrolet Colorado allows for the greatest cargo versatility, being capable of hauling furniture, bikes or any other large object you absolutely must bring back to school. And as a midsize truck, the Colorado won't be too difficult to park in crowded student lots. Chevy offers the Colorado in a variety of cab and engine configurations, making it easier to find the perfect version for your needs.
Pricing starts at $20,100, not bad for a pickup truck, and fuel economy will average in the mid-20s.