Indy Auto Man
Indy Auto Man
Closed. Opens Monday at 9:00 AM
Closed. Opens Monday at 9:00 AM

Top Used Cars for Students in Indiana

what car to buy for student | Indy Auto Man, IN

Whether you are a young adult about to go to college or a parent looking to buy a car for a student, at Indy Auto Man, you will find a good range of affordable, reliable, safe, and efficient models. Browse our inventory right now:

Many students of the University of Indianapolis, IvyTech Indianapolis, Indiana University, and other colleges prefer to have their own transport. It saves time and gives freedom of movement, making everyday commutes more fun and comfortable. Buying a used car is always a smart decision for those who don’t want to increase expenses that much. Here's the list of models to consider if you need a car for a student.

10 College Students' Favorite Cars

Since insurance and tuition suck up every dollar and finding a high-paid part-time job is a challenge, as a college students you don't have to spend much money for repairs and maintenance. So you'll need something that's not only convenient and inexpensive, but also reliable. In this case, to pay a bit more when you currently have on hands, can be a smart solution to gain in the long-run.

From compact and midsize sedans to subcompact SUVs, these models received excellent reviews from our buyers and are worth considering if you are looking for a car in Indiana:

  1. Toyota Yaris
  2. Mazda Mazda3
  3. Chevrolet Sonic
  4. Jeep Wrangler
  5. Ford EcoSport
  6. Toyota Corolla
  7. Nissan Altima
  8. Kia Optima
  9. Ford Focus
  10. Honda CRV

Let’s consider the five best cars for students in more detail. Keep in mind that all MSRPs are valid to the date of publication. 

Toyota Yaris

toyota yaris for students
  • MSRP: $16,605 
  • Used prices range from $2,000 (good condition, older year of manufacture) to $16,000 (excellent condition, 2019-2020 year of manufacture).
  • IIHS Crash Safety: Marginal to Good
  • EPA mileage: 32/40 mpg

The Toyota Yaris is a subcompact hatchback or sedan, which can be equipped with a manual or six-speed automatic transmission, depending on your preference and trim level. Toyota discontinued the Yaris family in 2020, but the model has been on the US market for over a decade. Therefore, there are many affordable and reliable Yaris sedans and hatchbacks on the market. Every Yaris comes with a surprisingly robust suite of safety features, including lane departure alerts, a pre-collision system, and automatic high beams. Student drivers also appreciate steering wheel-mounted multimedia controls and a hands-free Bluetooth calling system. While there are five trim levels, all are reasonably priced. As a result, even the most expensive Yaris models are affordable, making them some of the best cars for college students. 

Is Toyota or Honda the best for a student?

Honda and Toyota are great cars to buy for a student. These brands are ideal for novice drivers. Even used cars have durable engines, low fuel consumption, excellent handling, and enough power to entertain. If you are looking for a smooth, comfortable drive, you will estimate any Toyota model. And if you want something sportier but still comfortable, consider Honda.


mazda 3 best car for studets in Indiana
  • MSRP: $24,170 (base S model, no options)
  • Used Price Range: $2,000 (good condition, 10 years old and more) to $20,000+ (excellent condition, 5 years and less, top of the line with all available options)
  • IIHS Crash Safety: Good
  • EPA mileage: 28/36 mpg

The Mazda3 is a popular compact car available in two body styles: hatchback and sedan. It can also boast front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive configurations. It is a very fuel-efficient auto with a highway efficiency rating of around 40 mpg, despite its reputation for performance. The cabin features a seven-inch touchscreen display and Mazda Connect infotainment system, along with a good selection of entertainment features. Being a compact car, it also has an above-average list of safety features, including a rearview camera, and an optional forward collision mitigation system. Budget-conscious buyers have plenty of affordable Mazda options to choose from since the model was introduced in 2004.

What car should a college student buy for under $10,000?

Honda and Toyota have good long-term reliability records. However, their price reflects this. Mazda is known for being affordable even though it takes longer to depreciate. 

Chevrolet Sonic

buy used car for a student in Indiana
  • MSRP: $17,595 
  • Used prices range from $3,000 (good condition, older model year) to $21,000 (excellent condition, newer model year).
  • IIHS Crash Safety: Good
  • EPA mileage: 26/34 mpg

The Chevrolet Sonic is another discontinued model in our list. Fortunately, a decline in demand may help you buy a good vehicle for a fraction of the price. The Sonic is a small car available in hatchback and four-door sedan body styles with an optional manual or automatic transmission. It comes in several trims, each with a set of features and an adequate price. This is one of the most suitable cars for students. One of the key differentiators of Sonic is its safety features. Unlike many small cars, it has ten airbags, a rearview camera, and the Driver Confidence Package come standard. Lane departure, forward collision warning, and rear park assist are included. 

Jeep Wrangler (Classic)

used Jeep Wrangler for students
  • MSRP: $33,890 (base Sport trim with no options)
  • Used Price Range: $5,000 (average condition, older model year) to $50,000 (excellent condition, newer model year, top of the line with all options)
  • IIHS Crash Safety: the ratings vary by trim, from Poor (side) to Good (front); 
  • EPA mileage: 22/29 mpg

The Jeep Wrangler is a classic SUV with good off-road capability and a rugged frame. It is also fuel efficient. This is one of the best vehicles for college students who need to frequently transport people or inert cargo around their campuses and beyond. For buyers on a budget, the basic Sport package should be enough. The Rubicon has plenty of off-road features, as well as driver-friendly extras such as a powerful infotainment system for the more discerning student with a larger budget.

The Jeep Wrangler has been around for long, and plenty of previous-generation models are available, priced competitively with hatchbacks of comparable age.

Is it better to buy a new or used car for a student?

If you can afford a new car, you may choose a less expensive model and get a 2-3-year warranty. Alternatively, buy a one-year-old car with low mileage and save several thousand dollars. When you are the second owner, you get most of the depreciation benefits and still be covered by the manufacturer's warranty.

Ford Ecosport

  • MSRP: $22,040 
  • Used price range: $8,490(high-mileage, older model year) to $30,000 (excellent condition, newer model year, top-of-the-line with all available options)
  • IIHS Crash Safety: Marginal to Good
  • EPA mileage: 27/29 mpg

The Ford Ecosport is a compact fuel-efficient crossover discontinued in mid-2022. This is one of the most suitable cars for students. The base version, with its peppy automatic transmission, comfortable four-door configuration, and ample cargo area, is competitively priced and has good crash safety ratings for its category. The Ecosport provides an impressive range of options and all-wheel drive as an entry-level SUV.

In comparison to the abovementioned car models, it has a more powerful engine, high-performance tires, brakes, and quality aluminum wheels. Interior options include a decent infotainment system and relaxing ambient lighting.

Which Car Is Best for Students?

A car can be both a valuable asset and a liability. It all depends on how you go about choosing one. And personal experience also matters. Visit Indy Auto Man, comfortably located near the University of Indianapolis, Indiana University in Bloomington, and Purdue University in Lafayette, IN, to discover your best choices and test drive your favorite car. We can also deliver any vehicle to your campus within a 250-mile area from the dealership for free!