A civic with a question mark in front in red

5 Best Cars for College Students Under $5,000

Milad Hassibi October 9, 2019


Going off to college can be an exciting yet overwhelming time. With so many new faces and experiences to be had, it can be a hectic time for a college student. One question many college students have is whether they can find an affordable, reliable, and fuel-efficient car that can get them around their college town.

If you’re a college student that’s looking to purchase a car, here’s a list of the best cars under $5,000 for college students, along with our reasons why we love these cars.

2004-2008 Acura TSX

Our top car for college students is the 2004-2008 Acura TSX. Acura first launched the Acura TSX in 2004, making the car an instant hit with car enthusiasts. The Acura TSX boasts all the features many other Honda’s don’t have, such as standard leather seats, sunroof, Xenon projector headlights, a powerful sound system, and much more. The ample amount of features offered by the TSX make it a great overall car for any college student.

A 2005 acura tsx

This generation of Acura TSX is powered by a 2.4L VTEC motor, which provides a good balance of power, although many owners report getting anywhere from 20-25 MPG combined.

The 2004-2008 Acura TSX is also a highly reliable car that rarely suffers from any mechanical issues, making it a budget-friendly car for any college student. Being a Honda at heart, the Acura TSX has parts that are readily available and fairly cheap. Even today, the 2004-2008 TSX has a handsome and nearly timeless look that makes it appear to be a newer car.

2002-2006 Toyota Camry

The Camry has long held the title for the best-selling passenger car in America for a reason- It’s a great overall car. Although this car is far from being a speed demon, this generation of Toyota Camry offers a 4-cylinder engine option that offers college students up to 24 MPG in the city and 34 MPG on the highway.

A 2005 Camry from Toyota

This 4-door sedan also offers plenty of legroom when compared to smaller cars such as the Honda Civic, making it perfect for moving around your friends, road trips, and for moving. Additionally, the Camry has a legendary reputation for minimal breakdowns and repairs. Labor and replacement parts for these Camry’s are also extremely affordable and readily available.

2003-2007 Honda Accord

The Honda Accord has been well-regarded as one of the world’s most reliable cars. For maximum fuel savings, we recommend choosing the 2.4L 4-cylinder motor over the V6 motor. Just like all other Hondas, the Accord is well-known for almost never breaking down.

A 2005 Accord in silver

Students can choose from both a coupe or a 4-door sedan, both of which have enough seating for 5, although the rear leg room in the coupe as significantly tighter. Most owners of the 2003-2007 Accord report receiving 21/31 MPG in the city and on the highway respectively.

Unlike most other commuter cars, this generation of Honda Accord is available with ample options, like automatic headlights, navigation, and much more.

2002-2006 Honda CRV

Being one of the longest-running SUVs on the market, the Honda CRV makes for a great compact SUV for those students looking for extra space. The CRV is large enough to give drivers ample storage space, yet small enough to park easily in every college campus parking lot.

A honda CRV

The CRV was released at a time when most cars did not feature navigation or an infotainment system, so the controls in the car may be outdated for most modern college students. The CRV also features the same 2.4L 4-cylinder engine that can be found in the Acura TSX and Honda Accord mentioned above.

Just like all other Honda’s, the CRV is a reliable and durable car with plentiful parts. If you want to get even higher fuel economy than 22 MPG average, you can opt-in for the manual transmission version.

2006-2010 Honda Civic

One of the most legendary cars is the Honda Civic, well known around the world for being a reliable commuter car. Additionally, there are thousands of Honda Civics available across the country for just under $5,000. The Civic is economical and nimble while giving its passengers a comfortable ride.

A 2009 civic

For those looking for some pep, you can choose the Civic Si, which gives you access to a stronger motor. The car holds a high build quality and also tends to hold its value extremely well, meaning you wont spend an arm and a leg driving your Civic for many years.

Additionally, students can choose from both coupe and sedan models. Essentially, the 2006-2010 Civic is a great car that can be made to suit any style.

Final Note

All in all, although it may be difficult for a college student to find a reliable car under $5,000, it’s not impossible. If you have less-than-perfect credit and are looking to get into a new car, CrediReady can help. Our network of trusted and verified dealers are ready to put you in a new car. To learn more, fill out our no-obligation 100% free loan inquiry form here.



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