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Best Car for Students: A Beater

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Beater Used CarWhen I read this latest Bankrate article on the best car to buy for students, I was a little surprised at the very first criteria – less than $20,000. I’m twenty nine, nearly six years after graduation, and have yet to own a car that is even close to $20,000! My current car is a used Toyota Celica I bought off eBay for $16,000, 20% less than the $20,000.

Anyway, so what’s my point? Most students don’t need and won’t appreciate a new car whiel they’re in college. They certainly won’t appreciate a car that they didn’t pay for. While I appreciate Bankrate’s efforts in publishing a list of cars that are sub-$20k, fuel efficient (> 21 mpg), safe and comfortable (has A/C)… I think a student needs to drive a beater. A clunker. A piece of junk they can beat the crap out of, hence the term beater. As my dad used to say, if you start life with all the nice stuff, you never learn to appreciate it.

In all fairness, they did start the article off by saying you could go the clunker route or the more sustainable one and that this article was for the sustainable route – “The clunker will accept four years of hard use and neglect without serious harm. The new car likely will see your student through college and, it is hoped, beyond.”

  • Dodge Caliber SXT
  • Honda Fit
  • Hyundai Sonata GLS
  • Mazda3 i Sport
  • Mini Cooper
  • Mitsubishi Lancer ES
  • Nissan Sentra 2.0 S

My list?

  • Anything older than 10 years and cheaper than your mortgage payment.

What do you think? :)

(Photo: wickenden)

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29 Responses to “Best Car for Students: A Beater”

  1. brad says:

    We gave each of our kids a decade-old Toyota when they graduated high school. Beaters, but reliable beaters. So far, so good. My 29-year old daughter wishes she had that ’85 pickup back now (she sold it after college).

  2. daemondust says:

    A beater can be a good choice, but with it often comes years of little to no maintenance just waiting to surprise you with a hefty bill you probably can’t afford.

  3. Damon Day says:

    I was fortunate enough to have my father buy me an almost new chevy truck in high school. I did however have to work to pay for part of it. About 8 years ago I was commuting long distance in traffic to the office that I worked in and I parked my 11 mpg chevy 454 gas guzzler and purchased a used but good condition, high mile Toyota Tercel for 1400 cash. I put knew tires on it and drove that thing all over the place. It was a great little car, never mind the feeling that I was going to be killed at any moment if I was hit by a truck. I never had a problem with the car though. Did everything I needed it to do.


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