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Car For College

I am a high school senior and have been driving a 2005 Mitsubishi Galant since I got my license. I plan to get a new car soon and would like some advice. I would like a small 4-seater sedan up to about a $25,000 sticker and am currently looking at the Mazda3s Grand Touring 4-door. Considering safety, reliability, gas mileage, performance, handling, comfort, convenience, style, depreciation, maintanence and other such factors, I would greatly appreciate any feedback on the Mazda3 or suggestions for other cars that I should consider.

If you can afford college and a new car at the same time, go for it. The Mazda 3, especially in red, is a very cool car. My son has one and it gets lots of favorable comments. The S model, in my opinion, does not look as good as the standard model, but the power and handling are much better. Be prepared for a much harder ride and short tire life with expensive repacements, on the S model. You wil also pay higher insurance costs for the S model.

Mazda back seats fold down, so you can carry your skis or bike inside the car

All Mazdas are reliable, easy to service and have a very long life if properly cared for. A colleague of mine finally said goodbye to their 22 year old Mazda 626, which put their son through college.

Good luck in your studies and happy motoring.

Thank you. I have driven the i-sport model and liked it, but the rain-sensing wipers and automatic climate control of the s Grand Touring are too tempting to pass up. I didn’t realize that the s model brought higher insurance cost, but I have a clean record so it should be okay. Even so, I will let my parents make that discovery when they go to buy the insurance after buying the car.

I think Doc’s thinking of the turbocharged Mazdaspeed 3, not the 3s. Check with your insurance agent, but I don’t think the 3s would be much different on insurance.

The Subaru WRX is nice, as the the Mitsu EVO. The VW GTI is fun to drive, but isn’t known for reliability. I’m partial to the Mustang GT due to it’s simplicity (compared to the FWD/AWD turbo cars), robustness, and reliability. The V6 Altima is nice if you want a bigger car, the Ponitac G8 V8 can be had for peanuts these days, it’s a bigger car, but it’s alot of car for the money.

Good, thanks. I was a little skeptical as to why the 3s would be so different from the 3i. I don’t want the Mazdaspeed3 only because I don’t think I could handle the teasing that a 17 year old boy would recieve from driving a hatchback.

Thank you. The subaru and VW sound good.

Another question: I was reading a brochure about the Mazda3 and it listed certain states where the engines are less powerful. The 2.0 liter 4 usually gives 148 hp, but in some states only gives 144. The 2.3 liter 4 gives 156 hp except in some states where it gives 151 hp. I know this is helpful, but I don’t understand how a 151 hp engine is acceptable, but a 148 hp engine is not. And what about the much less fuel efficient cars, trucks, and SUVs that are still sold in those states?

Some states have more stringent emissions standards than others. So the engines get slightly detuned via ECU calibrations to meet those standards.

If the Galant is in good shape then why not keep it for the duration of college?

You’re not going to be doing much driving around campus anyway and why run the risk of getting a new car beat up in a college parking lot (very likely) or broken into? (somewhat less likely)

Students throwing doors open into your new ride along with tossing their loaded backpacks onto the roof of your car while they unlock theirs is common.

Good point, OK - why get a new car now? Option-put that $25k in the bank, you’ll be surprised how handy it’ll come in when you graduate!

No offense, but this question is hard to relate to…No suggestions for HS seniors with $25K for a new car.

My observations about having a car at college are:

  • All your friends will want to borrow it.
  • The number of those “friends” drops significantly when one of them smashes it up.
  • Since the majority of underclassman don’t have cars, the focus of social life, where bonding and long term friendships start, revolves around a lifestyle without cars.
    My wife still chuckles about a comment she heard when taking our daughter on college visit tours a few years back. They stopped by to see a private college outside of Boston. At one point in the tour the tour guide said: “We’re sorry but because of the shortage of parking spaces, the school is now limiting underclassman to one car each. Students will no longer be allowed to have two cars on campus.”

This whole thread reminds me of an Ann Landers column I read years ago, where she said: “Don’t give your kid the disadvantage of too many advantages.”

First of all, we bought the used Galant with the intention of it getting me through high school. My parents pay for my gas, but that will change when I go to college and my current job doesn’t pay very well so my cash base isn’t great. The Galant is rather heavy and underpowered for a midsize, causing it to sound like a WWI plane (even when going a constant 60 on a flat stretch of highway) and get poor gas mileage. It also is a pain to park in tight parking spaces.

All of my friends that are going to the same college will have cars, even though they will ride home with me when I go home for visits. I will not let them borrow my car. Lastly, my mom is a CPA who has worked for many car dealerships and she knows that car dealerships are getting desparate for sales the way the economy is and will make great deals. She is also an excellent haggler.

Two Comments

First, as long as Stalrunner earned the money to buy a car and is not running a tab on college expenseses, a new car is alright, although a poor “investment”. My son, in his last year at a private university works four part-time jobs, during the school year and during summers. He has taken no loans for college, can afford an inexpensive new car, but chose to buy “used” (he is in accounting and finance) with his hard earned money. So, Stalrunner very well may be within his rights and budget to shop for a car. He probably earned the money.

Second, I disagree that this car is a good choice for a teenage driver. According to the HLDI there are better choices out there. Anybody able to work, go to school, and buy a new car, does not have to be concerned with MPG as much as safety. There is no point in getting an education to use during virtually your whole life if you won’t be around or are seriously disabled by driving a little car to save a couple of bucks on gas. These little Mazdas are rated as “small”, the second lowest rating out of five. Also, payouts for 3 categories relating to injuries for this car, earned only a “substantially worse than average” or “worse than average” rating.

My advice to a college student: Buy a safe used car in good condition, learning how to handle money, make wise choices, and maintain a vehicle (DIY). Buy the car for you and not to impress your friends (Your comment, " … I don’t think I could handle the teasing that a 17 year old boy would recieve from driving a hatchback.", troubles me a little. What’s that??), you can do that later. Save the money and use it for something important like a cashing out on your first home or for a retirement portfolio.

One question: What is your major area of study ?

Your “Cash Base” Isn’t Great. Your Mom Is A CPA. So, You’re Buying A New Car?

You need a new car because the current car is hard to park, underpowered, and sounds like a biplane? No amount of poor MPG justifies what you are going to do.

Like my own 13 year-old daughter, I think you are spolied. She plans to go to college, graduate, and become a CEO (ha, ha, ha). Show your mom the posts I have written and see what she says. Please let us know, or put Mom on here with a comment.

This is going to sound rude, but, man, you are spoiled. You want to replace a perfectly good 4 year old car with a new $25,000 one? What?!?!? Your parents must be rich. It sounds to me like they plan on paying for it and your insurance. Let me guess, they are probably paying for your college too. Must be nice.

As far as the car itself goes, the Mazda3 is a great car. Also, I wouldn’t scoff at the Speed version just because it’s a hatchback. That car is quicker than snot and way fun to drive.

I plan to major in engineering because the engineering school that I plan to attend has given me a good portion of the scholarship money that will offset the cost of the car. I am going to a state university that has fairly low tuition and my college fund that has been accumulating over my entire life could more than pay for it. I have been awarded the 25k in scholarships and therefore can use some of my college fund for the car.

Oh, and I know I am spoiled in a lot of ways, but ask many of my friends and they will tell you that my parents are the most strict parents they know and that they have high expectations. That’s why I have worked my backside off (often under protest) to get that scholarship money. This includes taking the ACT six times.

My parents are both business people and go on a lot of business trips, so they need their own cars. My younger brother (10th grader) and I share the Galant, and he will still need a car when I am gone.

I resisted making such a comment all weekend,thank you for breaking the ice.

The car has had one recall on it, which worries me some about the quality even though we got that dealt with. I am going to college on scholarship money and I also have a college fund and savings account that my parents started for me when I was born. Because of the scholarships, the car money is coming of my college fund. My parents are not paying for it.