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Autotrader: The 10 best cars for new college grads


Diploma in hand, education in your back pocket, and the world ahead of you. Yeah, we’re envious of your recent achievement — and we agree that it might be time to reward yourself with a new ride.

Whether you’re just leaving college without a car, want a new and reliable model to get you to and from your new job, or plan to use a modest loan to build credit, it can be a great time to go car shopping.

Here’s a look at 10 of the best new cars for recent college graduates. Each is inexpensive (less than $30,000) and offers terrific fuel economy, a fantastic residual, and impressive reliability records. When it comes to fuel economy, every car except one on our list gets 40 mpg combined or better. That exception is the Ford Maverick, but at 37 mpg, it’s close.

1. 2022 Ford Maverick: $19,995

The Ford Maverick


The reborn Ford Maverick does it all — if you can find one, that is. This small pickup has space for four or even five passengers, an open, hose-out bed for gear, and a standard hybrid powertrain that nets an impressive 37 mpg combined (nearly double other versions of the Ford

Maverick). Your only challenge might be finding a dealer with one in stock for anywhere near the manufacturer’s suggested retail price.

2. 2022 Honda Accord Hybrid: $27,720

The 2022 Honda Accord


Its 47-mpg rating may not be tops on this list, but there’s something to be said about the sophisticated way the Honda

Accord goes about its business. This fuel-sipping sedan has impressive road manners, many standard features, and a solid, upscale feel that belies its sub-$28,000 price tag. 

3. 2022 Honda Insight: $25,760

The 2022 Honda Insight


The Honda Insight exists at the intersection of excellent fuel economy and classy cabin design. This small sedan looks a lot like Honda’s own Civic, but its hybrid powertrain delivers fuel consumption as low as 52 mpg combined. This model is being dropped after the 2022 model year as Honda plans to reintroduce a Civic Hybrid, so it may be an excellent time to get a great deal on an Insight. 

Also see: The best affordable places to live in the U.S.

4. 2022 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid: $24,100

The Hyundai Elantra Hybrid


Delivering as high as 54 mpg combined, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, the Hyundai

Elantra Hybrid is a stylish, full-featured small car that will make you a stranger at gas stations. To get the best fuel economy, you’ll need to seek out the ultra-frugal Elantra Blue trim level. 

5. 2022 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid: $23,600

The Hyundai Ioniq


If you’re serious about saving cash, the Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid has your number — all of your numbers. This right-priced small hybrid offers as high as 59 mpg combined while touting a price tag of well under $25,000. Add in a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, and there’s a lot to love about the Ioniq.

Read: Why buying your leased car is going to be a smart move

6. 2022 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid: $27,350

The 2022 Hyundai Sonata


Looking for a little more space for your friends — and their stuff? The Hyundai Sonata is a stylish, fuel-efficient way to haul everyone around in comfort. Ths midsize 4-door has standout looks, and in Blue trim, it’s rated as high as 52 mpg. According to the EPA, that means an annual fuel cost of just $1,200. That bests just about any other midsize sedan out there. 

7. 2022 Kia Niro: $24,690

The 2023 Kia Niro lineup


The Kia

Niro looks more like a small SUV than a hybrid. It’s a great choice that delivers fuel economy as high as 50 mpg combined. If your budget can stretch a little, plug-in hybrid and fully electric versions of the Niro may qualify for federal, state, and local incentives. 

Check out: 7 off-the-radar places worth stopping on a California road trip

8. 2022 Toyota Camry Hybrid: $27,980

Forget about boring Camry models of yore. The latest version of the midsize Toyota

sedan wears attention-grabbing styling and features a vast interior with plenty of space, plus a good infotainment system. The most affordable Camry Hybrid — the LE trim — gets an EPA rating of 52 mpg combined. 

More: 10 top hybrids for less than $30,000

9. 2022 Toyota Corolla Hybrid: $24,050

The Toyota Corolla hybrid


Long a favorite for its impressive reputation for reliability, the Toyota Corolla was recast a few years ago with a more expressive personality and the promise of even better fuel economy. The Corolla Hybrid‘s EPA rating is 52 mpg combined, but its sleek styling gives few hints about its eco-friendly credentials. 

Also see: 12 hybrids and gas cars that get the best mileage

10. 2022 Toyota Prius: $25,075

The Toyota Prius


This long-time fuel saver may be within reach thanks to its reasonable $26,000-or-so price tag. The Toyota Prius will be the envy of your workplace’s parking lot, and with the Eco trim level, you’ll see fuel economy as high as 56 mpg combined. 

10 best cars for recent college graduates

2022 Ford Maverick

2022 Honda Accord Hybrid

2022 Honda Insight

2022 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid

2022 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid

2022 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

2022 Kia Niro

2022 Toyota Camry Hybrid

2022 Toyota Corolla Hybrid

2022 Toyota Prius

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