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From pasteboard to asphalt: Eight automotive gifts for the recent grad

Whether your grad is heading off to college or out into the big bad world, solid transportation will be a necessity. From cars to gadgets for the road, CNET's got just the thing to keep grads safe and happy on the road.

Wayne_Cunningham.jpg
Wayne Cunningham
2015 Honda Fit
1 of 8 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Honda Fit

The Honda Fit not only holds a place as an entry-level car favorite, but also serves the single-car life that most high school and college grads will be living for a while. It’s 1.5-liter engine gives it enough power for any trip while delivering excellent fuel economy, so it won’t be hard on that entry-level job budget. With ingenious folding seats, it allows ample carrying capacity for a variety of awkwardly-sized objects.

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2 of 8 Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Mini Cooper Hardtop

The new Mini Cooper makes for a stylish first car, and will be well-appreciated when handed over to the freshly minted grad. Not only does it look good, but it handles well and turns in fuel economy averaging around 30 mpg. Connected apps add convenience for the smartphone generation, and the Mini’s size makes it an easy fit in most parking situations.

Aukey AllPower quad port USB car charger
3 of 8 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Aukey AllPower quad port USB car charger

For the gadget-happy generation, the Aukey AllPower makes for a must-have car accessory, as it plugs into a standard 12-volt power point and offers four USB charging ports. Your grad can keep phone and tablet charged while driving to the next destination on the road of life, and still have two ports left over for companions to use.

Bracketron Earth Elements smartphone car mount
4 of 8 Antuan Goodwin

Bracketron Earth Elements smartphone car mount

Your grad’s smartphone provides communication, navigation and a soundtrack, all nice things to have while on the road. The Bracketron Earth Elements series of car mounts offers a variety of safe ways to keep that phone out of a driver’s hands but still usable. These mounts attach to a car vent or windshield, and use a magnetic holder for the phone, making it easy to attach and detach.

Pioneer AVIC 8000NEX
5 of 8 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Pioneer AVIC 8000NEX

The latest cars offer advanced, connected tech, but the Pioneer AVIC 8000NEX lets you upgrade an older car with the latest cabin electronics. This head unit not only offers its own navigation and stereo, but also supports Apple CarPlay, mirroring a simplified form of the iPhone on its screen. With CarPlay, your grad can have the familiarity of car-approved iPhone apps safely available through voice control.

Powerall Element
6 of 8 Josh Miller/CNET

Powerall Element back-up battery and jump-starter

A dead battery in a car can mean being dangerously stranded. Don’t let your grads head out into the world without back-up. In this case we’re talking about the Powerall Element, a portable lithium-ion battery with enough juice to jump-start a car. Its integrated flashlight can be a lifesaver at night all by itself. And when not rescuing a stranded car, the Element can recharge smartphones, tablets and other personal electronics.

Rockford Fosgate Universal Bluetooth adapter
7 of 8 Josh Miller/CNET

Rockford Fosgate Universal Bluetooth adapter

Simplicity is a virtue with the Rockford Fosgate Universal Bluetooth adapter. This device plugs into a car’s 12-volt power point and the stereo’s auxiliary input. Pair a phone to the this Bluetooth adapter and all of its audio will play through the car’s stereo. Grads will hear their music, navigation prompts and phone calls through the car’s speakers. This is an easy and simple means of adding Bluetooth to older cars.

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8 of 8 Josh Miller/CNET

Zubie Connected Car Service

When keeping track of your recent grad from Facebook postings isn’t enough, Zubie offers a means of making sure he is safe on the road. Zubie plugs into a car’s OBD-II port, then uses its data connection and GPS chip to constantly update its associated smartphone app. Log into that app, and you can check for maintenance needs and see the car’s location.

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