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Used Cars n’ New Grads – 10 Best Cars For Your High School Grad

Its summer of 2012, which means congratulations class of 2012! Now it's time for your first car and I'm here to help you pick the one that best suits you.

I remember my first car. I went ½ with my parents on it, which unfortunately meant I could not pick it out. They got me a 1995 Chevy Cavalier it was a coupe, white exterior and blue interior which smelt like the inside of a Bath & Body Works and the best part was the big princess bumper sticker, just the added option every 18 year old male wants on his car. Boy, if that car could talk, it had plenty of memories. So grads, your first car may not be cool but they will get you where you need to go and you will remember it the rest of your life.

So I decided to compile a list of the 10 best used cars for you grads. It was compiled with certain criteria in mind and data from various websites. Reliability ratings, price, ease of getting parts, maintenance and miles per gallon (mpg), were all factors that played into the ratings. We used a host of owner reviews from a slew of sites including,, and for pricing info. Craigslist also came in handy to assist in discovering if these cars are readily available in our great state because whats the point of putting it on a list if you can't find it here?

What was your first ride? I want to hear about your first car. Leave a comment below



1987-2001 Jeep Cherokee



With 4×4 and a low horsepower “bullet proof” 4.0L I6 these SUV's are safe and extreamly cheap to fix but it averages an EPA estamated 15 mpg for all its good it may just be too expensive from week to week for most grads. As for price many are available unoff-roaded for under $3,500 on craigslist.




1989-1997 Mazda Miata



Ok I know its a two seat roadster sports car but its a low horsepower low torque gas sipping extremely reliable and inexpensive sports car. The Miata also has near 50/50 weight distribution making it the best handling car on this list and can help your grad get out of trouble when they ievitably do something stupid, the car almost drives it self. The only downside is they are impossible to find as an automatic and most parents I know look for that when shopping for a car.




1992-2000 Subaru Impreza



What can I say it is everthing you would want to keep your mind at ease when your grad hits the streets too bad most of the have fallen in the hands of tuners. Cheap, Reliable, Safe, AWD and far too many times Modded.




2003-2010 Pontiac Vibe



Roomy american car with a reliable gas sipping japaneese drivetrain with a load of safety features and available in AWD so they can be safe in all weather. The only downside is the price to own one.




1990-2001 Toyota Camry



Ok here comes a tough one for me on one side yes it has everything you could ever want in a first car for your grad on the other side it is the most boring thing ever built it is a kitchen appliance you can drive. So I put it right in the middle, is it something I would want my kid to drive NO because there is so many other options but if bland, boring and uninspired is you or your grad this is the car.




1997-2002 Subaru Forrester



Everything great from the Impreza without the tuners. The draw back is mpg EPA avgerage of 20 mpg.




1973-2000 Honda Civic



The civic is the definition of great on gas its reliable, safe and also the definition of tuner. Far to many times these cars are modded and beaten it also doesn't help its case that it is chosen most of all by car thiefs.




1995-2000 GM car with a 3800 Series 2 non-supercharged motor



Way too many of these cars to list but thats the beauty of it. You can get generic to sporty to luxury and super safe to bare bones. These cars sare one of the most reliable drivetrains ever also from 1995-1997 this motor was a 10 best .They can be beaten up day in and day out and still go from point A to point B and back. Most of them get 25+ mpg and these cars can be found all over and at all price points.


2000 honda accord coupe.jpg


1976-2000 Honda Accord



This car built its legacy on being reliable, gas sipping, safe and giving you the most bang for your buck. All in all the the definition of a first car if you can find one that isn't a half inch off the ground and doesn't sound like your weed wacker or one that hasn't been beaten into submission already which is why I could not make this #1.




1984-1996 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ceira/Buick Century



Maybe not the best in mpg but top almost all “most reliable” or “cars that won't die” lists and have the highest owner reviews of any on this list. Later models had ABS and SRS safety devices and they are dirt cheap to buy and fix if need be but you can be almost 100% sure your grad will never be stranded when driving one of these.


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