KBB Names the 2019 Top 10 Back-to-School Cars for Students

Kelley Blue Book

A new car can take the sting out of summer’s end. With school only a few weeks away, new drivers and their parents are seriously considering a purchase, though they may have different opinions as to what that vehicle might look like. Not to worry. Kelley Blue Book has curated a list of ten cars that are perfect for the job.

As Matt DeLorenzo, senior managing editor for Kelley Blue Book puts it, “We’ve chosen ten new cars for students that are a great mix of safe, reliable, cool and affordable.” The cars on the list are all 2019 models, start at $20,000 or lower and are a great mix of style and value. If you are searching for a ride to school this semester, there’s something on this list for you. 

Note: Prices listed reflect the Kelley Blue Book ® Fair Purchase Price

#10 Nissan Kicks 

Starting at $18, 290

Highlights: Going into its second year, there isn’t much new for the 2019 Kicks model–but that isn’t a bad thing. This subcompact-crossover SUV is safe, efficient, and affordable. The car comes standard with automatic emergency braking and other advanced features. For a teen driver on a budget, this is a great starter car mom and dad can get behind. 

Kelley Blue Book

#9 Subaru Impreza 

Starting at $18,141

Highlights: Subaru EyeSight driver assists, big back seat, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. While the Impreza isn’t as fast or sporty as other cars, it’s got a neat personality and equally neat price tag. It’s an especially good choice for first-time drivers in colder regions thanks to its all-wheel drive. 

#8 Honda HR-V 

Starting at $20,538

Highlights: Sub-compact car with an SUV feel, the HR-V got a nice update in 2019 with two new trim options (Sport and Touring). Not only that, but the HR-V got safer too, with Honda Sensing for EX and higher trims, so parents can feel confident sending their child out on the road. 

#7 Hyundai Kona

Starting at $19,638

Highlights: Young drivers will love the Kona’s sportiness, and parents will love the many safety features and their great standard warranty. The Kona EV, Hyundai’s first electric crossover, also boasts best in class for range – 258 miles. 

Kelley Blue Book

#6 Honda Fit

Starting at $16,080

Highlights: Space efficiency + fuel efficiency = a winning car equation. This compact hatchback is great for city drivers on their way too and from school, and the roomy cabin and cargo will make it a hit with young drivers on the go. 

#5 Volkswagen Jetta

Starting at $16,749

Highlights: Forty years old and in its seventh generation, this European compact sedan got a remake this year. A little larger than past incarnations, the 2019 Jetta is comfortable, updated and boasts a new, 6-year/ 72,000-mile transferable, bumper-to-bumper warranty. Throw in its low price tag, and you’re on your way to school. 

#4 Mazda Mazda3

Starting at $20,913

Highlights: Whether you go with the sedan or hatchback, the Mazda3 is all-new this year. And though it’s got the highest price on this list, the Mazda3’s upgraded safety, premium features, and exceptional steering more than justify the cost. Just in case you need one more ace to sell the Mazda3 to the parents: this iteration has all-wheel drive available.

#3 Honda Civic

Starting at $18,505

Highlights: The Honda Civic takes home Kelly Blue Book’s “Compact of the Year” award. It also comes first in the class in saftey: the Civic was the Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). It’s a quality, reliable car that keeps getting better each year. New in 2019 models are a few subtle styling changes, available sport trims and a volume knob

#2 Kia Soul 

Starting at $16,138

Highlights: This is a car staying true to itself that should have a lot of appeal for young drivers. The Kia Soul is roomy and loaded with special features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and five-inch touchscreen radio. For the student who wants to stand out among the crowd, this is a great value first car.

Kelley Blue Book

#1 Toyota Corolla Hatchback 

Starting at 19,205

Highlights: Topping off the list is this inexpensive hatchback from Toyota. It’s got fun features like adaptive cruise control and cool kid styling. It handles well on the road and is safe, smooth ride parents can feel comfortable with. By far the best price for its class, the 2019 Corolla Hatchback is poised to be this school year’s standout.