It’s that time of year again when students are loading up to head off to college campuses around the country and parents are nervously (joyously?) seeing them off. Many kids get their first car about this time or will get one inside the next year. Here are our 10 favorites as back-to-school rides from the 2015 model year. We’ve separated them by base model MSRP so there’s something for every reasonable budget.
This category is for the extremely budget-minded new car buyer headed off to school. Payments will likely be under $200 per month for these cars.
|2015 Volkswagen Jetta
The Jetta might not be the best-looking or fastest in it class, but it’s got a lot of value and plenty of options for needs ranging from cost to efficiency. Read our review of the 2015 Jetta.
|2015 Nissan Versa Note
We loved the Versa Note for its variety, budget-consciousness, and practicality. Read our review of the 2015 Nissan Versa Note.
Slightly more expensive, these cars are usually a more long-term buy than the previous category. They’re also all family-capable should the young student be contemplating or starting a family while in school.
|2015 Chrysler 200
One of the most value-oriented and diverse offerings in the midsize sedan segment, the 200 is a good-looking car that looks a lot more expensive than it is. Read our review of the 2015 Chrysler 200.
|2015 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen
The second VW on our list is also one of the most practical, with plenty of space in a small enough package that getting around campus won’t be difficult. Read our review of the 2015 VW Golf Sportwagen.
$24,000 to $30,000 Picks
This category is a bit more upscale and is most likely for either the well-heeled or the graduate-level student.
|2015 Jeep Cherokee
We have become big fans of the Cherokee in its new rendition and with diverse packaging to suit anyone’s needs, it’s a value-oriented choice for the weekend getaway enthusiast while making a bold statement on-campus. Read more about the 2015 Cherokee.
|2015 Subaru Forester / Outback
We gave this one a tie as the two are very closely related and both fit well in this category. The Forester is more price-practical while the Outback is more family-oriented. Either is a great choice. Read our review of the 2015 Forester here and the 2015 Outback here.
$30,000 to $40,000 Picks
Here we get into a category that is premium, but not quite luxury. Many entry-level luxury vehicles and premium-level brands are found starting in this price point, but our picks are not from those categories.
|2015 Volvo XC60
Although staying under the $40,000 mark with this vehicle might be difficult, any extra spent is likely well worth it. This is a solid little crossover with a lot going for it. Read more about the 2015 XC60.
|2015 Honda CR-V
This is the segment-leading midsize crossover and there’s good reason for that. Honda’s reputation for reliability is coupled to a great package of versatility and comfort. Read more about the 2015 Honda CR-V.
Luxury Vehicle Picks
Here we’ll drop the pretense that money is an object and focus instead of luxury purchase for the price. For the dean or the trust fund baby, these are the cars of choice.
|2015 Jaguar XJL
Nothing is as fine as British motoring in a car that is equal parts sports sedan and limousine. As fine in its interior as it is outside, the Jaguar XJL is an easy choice.
|2015 Lexus LS 460
Luxurious, powerful, and comfortable, the LS 460 is a big sedan with a lot of muscle backing up its bulk. Read about the 2015 LS 460.