- Scion FR-S (Toyota 86)
Everyone’s new favorite (or least favorite, depending who you ask) Japanese sports car is Toyota’s attempt at making an affordable, fun to drive, rear-wheel drive sports car aimed at, you guessed it, a college-aged demographic. Buying one of these brand new will run you over $25,000, relatively inexpensive compared to most other new vehicles, but still out of range for the vast majority of college kids. However, looking at models that are 5 years old, you can expect to pay less than half of that $25,000. Keep in mind, 50% depreciation in 5 years is not bad at all, but still hurdles the price towards something that is affordable for the average college student. As time goes on, the FR-S’s will be a rarer site, as with Scion being absorbed by Toyota, the FR-S has been mildly redesigned and rebadged to the Toyota 86. With the FR-S’s sleek design and sheer fun-to-drive factor, expect to see this car on campuses more and more frequently in years to come.
- Subaru BRZ
A lot of you probably saw this entry coming, as it is hard to mention the Scion FR-S without also mentioning it’s Subaru counterpart, the BRZ. While mechanically the FR-S and the BRZ are nearly identical, the BRZ has a more aggressive tune, making it a slightly upscale version of the FR-S. Sharing much of the same appeal as the FR-S, albeit with a slightly higher price tag, the BRZ is going to be a common site on campuses everywhere for years to come.
- Honda Civic Type-R
In the 2017 model year Honda began production of its newest performance-based model of the Civic. With an impressive 300+ horsepower from a fuel efficient inline four cylinder engine, the Type-R is not only quick on its feet, but practical as well. The Type-R has gained a lot of attention from the “hot hatch” community, and hot hatches are already popular among college aged people. The Type-R’s added performance does come at a cost, however, costing nearly twice as much as the base Civic, at around $40,000 new. This is the main factor keeping the Type-R from having widespread appeal to today’s students, but after a few years of depreciation, will be a solid pick for students everywhere. Even though it may be a more pricey option down the line, you might not feel so bad about spending a little more for that notorious Honda reliability.
- Dodge Charger
The Dodge Charger is already not a rare sight on many campuses, but is only going to get more so. With the sixth generation of mustang starting in 2006, it is getting easier and easier to find a Charger well under $5,000, making them a very affordable option for many students. With the aggressive styling, loads of space, four doors, and an option hemi engine for the more enthusiastic car owners, the Charger is a very popular option among college students. The only real thing holding the Charger back is fuel economy, and some drivers may not be a fan of the rear-wheel-drive setup, especially in colder areas. Keep in mind, if you are willing to pay a premium, the Charger is also offered with all-wheel-drive. With the sixth generation onward getting more and more affordable, along with the styling aging rather well, expect to see a lot more Chargers on campus in the future.
- Chevrolet Cruze
The Chevy Cruze began production in America in 2008, while the name Cruze was used by a different vehicle in Asia from 2001-2008. The Cruze has already gained a decent amount of traction among young people for one huge reason: it’s inexpensive all the way around. A brand new 2019 Cruze can be bought for under $18,000, and it just gets lower on the used car market. On top of this it is cheap to drive, averaging over 30 MPG fuel economy and available in diesel variant. Available as a 4-door sedan or hatchback, allows it to appeal to an even wider audience. As previously stated, being so affordable has gotten the Cruze off to a great start with students, and will become an even more common site as time goes on and used Cruzes continue to become more affordable.
- Mitsubishi Mirage
In 2012 Mitsubishi resurrected the Mirage for its sixth generation as a compact hatchback. A brand new 2018 Mirage can be bought for the insanely low price of $14,000, which is reason enough for its popularity with students. Easily getting over 40 MPG and room for four passengers, there isn’t much to dislike about the Mirage from a student’s perspective. The only reason it’s not as popular today as it will be in the coming ten years, is purely because the used Mirages have not depreciated enough to be in most students’ price range. Keep in mind, this car is far from a head-turner, with lackluster styling, bare-bone interior, and a meek 78 horsepower, it will get you from A to B, but not much else. Then again, what more does a struggling college student need from their car?
- Hyundai Genesis Coupe
Going back to sporty coupes, the Hyundai Genesis is one that is often overlooked today. This is a shame, with a rather large 3.8 V6 pumping out 348 horsepower that would put any American V6 to shame straight out of the box. The reason the Genesis coupe isn’t as popular today as it will be in the next decade is once again, the oldest models are still too new in the used market for college students to afford. On top of that Hyundai just doesn’t have the presence of its other Asian competitors like Toyota or Honda. However, this will be a top competitor for young car enthusiasts looking for an alternative to the every-day coupe.
- Dodge Challenger
Dodge has been creating quite a reputation for itself, both good and bad. One of the most notable is the notorious Dodge Challenger. The Challenger and its trims have produced some of the most powerful and fastest road-going cars ever in the form of the Hellcat and the Demon. Granted, I doubt many, if any, college students will be cruising around campus in a Hellcat or Demon any time soon, but the legacy it has created for itself carries over to the lower-level trims. The lowest trim of Challenger will run around $30,000 brand new, still pretty steep for a college student. This is why the Challenger is not a common site today, but will be in a few years. Since the oldest model year of the most recent generation of Challenger is barely 10 years old, it’s hard to find one of these classy looking muscle cars on a budget. However, as depreciation takes its toll on the Challenger over the next 10 years, you’ll be seeing these cars more and more frequently.
- Chevy Volt
In 2011 Chevrolet began selling the Volt, their answer to the Prius. And while Priuses are popular among college students today as an affordable and extremely fuel efficient car, the Volt the isn’t on the same level. So why will the Volt become more popular over the next ten years compared to the Prius? The Prius has been in production much longer, earning a good reputation for itself as reliable, and has been given more years to depreciate. The Prius, at no fault of its own, has become the poster-child for boring practicality and “grandma cars” everywhere. Students still buy the Prius in spite of the cultural stigma and slew of jokes, but perhaps more would opt for the hybrid if they didn’t have to fear being made fun of by “car guys”. This is where the Volt has the advantage, filling an almost identical niche as the Prius, without the negative stigma, I see the Volt only gaining more traction in the next decade, especially with electric cars as a whole becoming part of the norm.
- Toyota Yaris iA
With Scion becoming defunct, the Scion iA became part of the Yaris lineup for Toyota. Since this model is only a few years old, it is still out of most student’s price range. That being said, one can be purchase brand new for around $16,000. With Toyota’s notorious reliability, these cars will be around long enough to be sold to the next generation of college students. Although fairly small and not the most exciting vehicle to drive, it makes for a nice “jack of all trades” compact sedan. It’s fuel efficient but not the most fuel efficient, quick enough but far from the fastest, and decent looking but not a head-turner. The Yaris iA inherits some of its good looks from Scion, gets great MPG, and if Toyota’s history of reliability continues, this will make for one of the most ideal vehicles for students everywhere.