If you’re a young driver, your desire for a new vehicle probably revolves around two things: affordability and coolness. But you probably already know you can’t just buy the cheapest cool car you can find, especially if you’re a student — as you’ll also want to make sure your car is relatively practical, so you can carry around your friends or your gear, and also reliable, so you can make it to your classes or any job you might have. With that in mind, here are six affordable, cool cars for students.
Honda Civic Si
There aren’t many cars that are quite as much of a joy to drive every day as the Civic Si. Hard as it is to admit, part of that does indeed stem from the new turbocharged engine, which provides a healthy push of thrust in the rev range where most everyday driving takes place. Indeed, between that flat turbo torque curve and the Civic’s tidy curb weight of just 2,906 pounds, passing maneuvers and steep grades take far fewer downshifts than in Hondas past.
The Subaru BRZ may seem like the kind of high-performance sports car your parents would never give you the “OK” to purchase — but it’s more sensible than you might expect at first glance. It has rear seats and a surprisingly sizable trunk, for instance — and while the back seats aren’t huge, they’re perfect for additional storage. It’s also not wildly fast, with only 200 hp, but rather just a joy to drive — great for learning car control and driving technique. More importantly, perhaps, is the BRZ’s affordability: Despite its sleek styling, it starts at just $26,500, and it touts the legendary durability you’d expect it to have, considering it was designed by Subaru and Toyota.
Even though the Jeep Wrangler has been available for ages, it seems more popular than ever before. Featuring a starting price of just $25,000 with shipping, the Wrangler is affordable — if you aren’t looking for all the latest amenities, which can quickly add to that figure. More importantly, however, the Wrangler will dramatically hold its value — much better than virtually any other vehicle on the market. That means you’ll be able to get a lot of money back out of it when it’s time to trade up for something more practical. And while the Wrangler’s performance absolutely isn’t all that impressive, there’s no question it’s a fun vehicle, thanks to a brilliant combination of off-road capabilities and convertible excitement.
Fiat Abarth 500
The FIAT 500 Abarth is one of the most exciting hatchbacks on the market, thanks to its impressive performance and excellent engine note. Ignore the cheeky styling it shares with other FIAT 500 models: The 500 Abarth means business, with a sports-car growl and a 0-to-60 time of under 7 seconds. It also offers surprisingly sharp handling thanks to its diminutive size. And while it’s not the most practical model on this list, it’s one of the most affordable: Prices start from $22,500, and it touts 28 miles per gallon in the city and 33 mpg on the highway.
While many of the models on our list are cooler versions of normal vehicles, the Veloster is a cool car all on its own. That’s mostly because it combines coupe styling with hatchback practicality while tossing in an extra door — just one single extra door, on the passenger side — for good measure. Its base price of just $19,000 with shipping is appealing, but even more enticing is the sporty Veloster Turbo’s powertrain: a 201-hp turbocharged 4-cylinder linked up to an available dual-clutch automatic. Regardless of which Veloster you choose, you’ll get a 10-year powertrain warranty, which makes it an especially alluring choice.