New Car

Hi… I am a graduating senior from high school and i need to find a reliable car to commute to college in. There are a few things that i need in the car. First of all I’m looking for a car with all wheel drive. Also i don’t want it to be terrible on gas like my current car is. (Ford f250 diesel). I also want a car that has a substantial amount of power. Nothing like a Camaro’s v8 but nothing small like a Prius. Any suggestions are appreciated

One more thing… I’m not looking to spend a lot of money on it either… I need to buy it used and want the best deal i can get.

Your AWD requirement really limits things. Why do you need AWD?

You can’t go wrong with a compact car from a reliable manufacturer. If you can find a 2003 Mazda Protege with low mileage and in good hape, that would be ideal. Also a Hyundai Accent up to 4 years old. A Chevy Colbalt with low mileage and in good shape will not cost you too much either.

I would avoid Honda Civics and Toyota Corolla s with hich mileage. The owners of those sold them for good reason. They will also not be cheap to buy.

Avoid anything with 4 wheel drive or a turbo engine, and stay away from any Volkswagen or other Europwean brands.

You are going to college to LEARN things, make life long friends,and have a goood time as well. Don’t let an expensive or unreliable car take away your concentration and diminish your fun. Girls worth chasing don’t care what you drive, as long as it is reliable and the heater works. I dated a girl whose fur coat, which she wore to class, was worth twice as much as my car.

You want “substantial” power, good mileage, and AWD.

For not a lot of money.

Keep dreaming.

Don’t forget the OP’s requirement that it be reliable!
Yes, it is possible to find a cheap car that is reliable, but the odds of finding one is about the same as the odds of finding a virgin at a house of ill repute.

Subaru WRX

Unless you live in an area where the road conditions are horrible most of the time and/or it’s hilly the AWD may be something you should pass on. This just adds complexity (a.k.a. as expense) to the mix.

The part of your post about commuting to college is a factor in this so I would say a recommendation about a vehicle could depend on the length of this commute, how often you’re shuffling a load of college related items around, etc.
The F250 would be hard to beat for moving stuff back and forth to college if you’re going to live in a dorm but if you’re going to live at home and commute to classes then another vehicle would be a better option.

When you find that car, and it comes in a manual transmission, and it isn’t a Subaru, can you let me know, because I want 2 of them.


Subaru is the least expensive AWD car I would trust used.
“I’m not looking to spend a lot of money on it either…” covers a lot of territory and depends upon your point of view. If that’s about $10-12k, you May be able do it. If it’s much less than that; welcome to the world of dreaming which all of us are prone to do now and then. If we’re talking cheaper, a good used buy according to CR in a compact fwd car, outfit with snow tires is your best bet.

Maybe if the virgin is a potential customer you might stand a chance ?

[b][i]Champagne Tastes, Beer Budget.

“There are a few things that i need in the car.”

Need Or Want ? [/i][/b]

You need the newest, lowest miles, best maintained, most economical, safe car that your budget will allow. Find that car and live with some inconveniences for now. Don’t shop make / model, etcetera.

When you’re not a student and are making a living then get the car you want. No kidding.

Tell us how much you have to spend if you’d like better recommendations.


What year and trim level is your F-250? How much do you expect to get for it, and how much more are you willing to spend? It sounds like you need an evening job to afford the car you want. One of me college roommates had an SS-350 Camaro that he bought on his own with money he made working. You may already have that job, but I don’t know that.

You might combine fun and functional with a Cobalt SS. You could get a 2007 sedan for about $10,500. The coupe was available as early as 2005, and you could find one for less than $9000. The horsepower goes from 205 to 260 in 2008, but 205 HP in a small car like a Cobalt is plenty.

I’m going to school in Vermont so it is pretty important that i have an AWD car. I’m looking to spend no more than 10k on a car, however I would like it to be less. I’ve looked into the Subaru WRX and the Impreza Outback Sport. The older makes of the Impreza Outback like around 1998-2000 are in a good price range and fit all my requirements. I do have a evening job so thats not a problem, does anyone know anything about the reliability of these cars? The JDPower ratings on them are not as high as i had hoped.

Did a quick zip code search for Vermont and used the University of Vermont’s listing(05405) as a base;

Avoid the WRX. A 2002/2004 WRX should be thoroughly beaten into the ground by now unless you can find one that an old person is selling. That’s among the best chances you have for finding a well maintained car. The insurance will be a lot more affordable if you get a regular old Impreza, though. Why not keep the truck for a while and see how it works out?

You don’t need AWD in Vermont. You need a set of 4 winter tires on your car, that will get you anywhere you need to go. Look for a FWD car with a documented up to date maintenance history. Have a mechanic check it out. Get the winter tires installed and you are good to go. Subaru’s, especially older used ones can have lots of problems with due to mismatched tires on the AWD, to bad head gaskets. Not reliable, and not cheap.

On your budget stick to a basic FWD car, get the winter tires, and save your money for books.

I agree ! You can’t afford the potential problems of a car with more than the basics. Forget AWD, turbos and power this and that. Avoid power windows. If it stops working in winter and you can’t afford to fix it; that will be real “fun” to drive a date around in. You’ll go to the LEAST popular on campus, quickly.
The cost “after” purchase is more important.

Hi there,

I came across this thread doing some web work for GM. I thought it might be helpful to let you know that GM offers a discount to college students. Here’s the link to site for details:
There is also a Facebook page. Check it out if you get the time.

Hope this benefits you!

A few years back (quite a few) I was visiting a friend in Vermont and folks were getting around just fine with rwd and bias ply snows. The gypsy cab I took from the train station was a Dodge Dart and the cabbie drove in the snow and ice with no problem.

I vote for fwd and 4 good snow tires. My part of South Jersey got 18" of snow and I’ve been leaving my 4wd Blazer at home since my 2010 Cobalt is handling the snow with the OEM all-season tires.

Ed B.