10 Great Cars for Grads in Class of 2022

May 19, 2022

ATLANTA, May 19, 2022 – Armed with diplomas in hand and ready to go out and change the world, many students graduating college this semester will find themselves in need of a new vehicle as they embark upon this next phase of life. Whether they are seeking reliable transportation for their commute to and from that hard-earned first post-college job, or they want to use a modest loan to help build their credit, recent grads across the nation will be on the hunt for a new ride to propel them down their chosen path. To help members of the class of 2022 narrow down the big list of more than 300 new-vehicle models available for purchase this year, Autotrader, a Cox Automotive company, has named the 10 Best Cars for Recent College Graduates.

“It can feel overwhelming for a young adult to purchase their first new car, but with proper research and solid data in hand, it really doesn’t have to be,” said Brian Moody, executive editor for Autotrader. “We advise recent grads not to get too carried away by trying to purchase their absolute dream car as soon as they get their first real paycheck. Today, there are many fantastic new-car choices available that will not break the bank in terms of sticker price or fuel consumption. And while the marketplace continues to face some inventory challenges and higher-than-average prices as a result, buyers need to approach the vehicle purchasing process with both patience and realistic expectations. Being flexible is key to finding the right car and finding a good deal.”

All of the new vehicles on this year’s 10 Best Cars for Recent College Graduates list are inexpensive to buy, featuring starting prices below $30,000. In addition, each selection offers terrific fuel economy, impressive reputations for reliability, and solid residual values (meaning each vehicle is projected to hold its value well over time). Where fuel economy is concerned, every vehicle except one on the list gets 40 miles per gallon combined or better (the exception is the Ford Maverick, which comes close at 37 mpg). Check out the great new cars for grads in the class of 2022, unranked and listed below in alphabetical order:

Autotrader’s 10 Best Cars for Recent College Graduates for 2022

2022 Ford Maverick: $19,995
This small pickup has space for four or even five passengers, an open, hose-out bed for gear, and a standard hybrid powertrain that nets an impressive 37 mpg combined. Your only challenge might be finding a dealer with one currently in stock for anywhere near the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP).

2022 Honda Accord Hybrid: $27,720
This suave, fuel-sipping sedan achieves 47 mpg and boasts impressive road manners, lots of standard features, and a solid, upscale feel that belies its sub-$28,000 price tag.

2022 Honda Insight: $25,760
This small sedan exists at the intersection of great fuel economy (its hybrid powertrain delivers as low as 52 mpg combined) and a classy, upscale cabin. The Insight is being dropped after the 2022 model year due to Honda’s plans to reintroduce a Civic Hybrid, so it may be a good time to get a great deal on one.

2022 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid: $24,100
Delivering as high as 54 mpg combined, this stylish, full-feature small car will make you a stranger at gas stations. To get the best fuel economy, you’ll need to seek out the ultra-frugal Elantra Blue trim level.

2022 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid: $23,600
If you’re serious about saving cash, this right-priced small hybrid has your number – all of your numbers. It offers as high as 59 mpg combined while touting a price tag of well under $25,000, all with a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

2022 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid: $27,350
If you’re looking for a little more space for your friends and their stuff, this stylish, fuel-efficient midsize 4-door has standout looks – and in Blue trim, it’s rated as high as 52 mpg. According to the EPA, that means an annual fuel cost of just $1,200, which bests just about any other midsize sedan out there.

2022 Kia Niro: $24,690
Looking more like a small SUV than a hybrid, the Niro is a great choice that delivers fuel economy as high as 50 mpg combined. If your budget allows, there are plug-in hybrid and fully electric versions of the Niro that may also qualify for extra federal, state and local incentives. If you really want to be ahead of the curve, look for the all-new 2023 Kia Niro that should be available soon.

2022 Toyota Camry Hybrid: $27,980
Forget about boring Camry models of yore. The latest version of this midsize sedan wears attention-grabbing styling and features a huge interior with plenty of space, along with a good infotainment system. And the most affordable Camry Hybrid – the LE trim – is rated at a top 52 mpg combined.

2022 Toyota Corolla Hybrid: $24,050
A longtime favorite for its impressive reputation for reliability, the Corolla was recast a few years ago with a more expressive personality and better fuel economy. And while it’s rated at 52 mpg combined, the Corolla Hybrid’s sleek styling gives few hints as to its eco-friendly credentials.

2022 Toyota Prius: $25,075
This trailblazing fuel saver is sure to be the envy of the workplace parking lot, and it may actually be within reach thanks to its reasonable sub-$26,000 price tag. With the Eco trim level, the Prius can achieve as high as 56 mpg combined.

To learn more about the 10 Best Cars for Recent College Graduates for 2022 from Autotrader, including pricing, photos, detailed vehicle information and available inventory, click here.

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About Autotrader
Autotrader is the most recognized third-party car listings brand, with the most engaged audience of in-market car shoppers. As the foremost authority on automotive consumer insights and expert in online and mobile marketing, Autotrader makes the car shopping experience easy and fun for today’s empowered car shopper looking to find or sell the perfect new, used or Certified Pre-Owned car. Using technology, shopper insights and local market guidance, Autotrader’s comprehensive marketing and retailing solutions allow consumers to build their deal online, and guide dealers to personalized digital marketing strategies that grow brand, drive traffic and connect the online and in-store shopping experience. Autotrader is a Cox Automotive™ brand. Cox Automotive is a subsidiary of Cox Enterprises. For more information, please visit http://press.autotrader.com

About Cox Automotive
Cox Automotive Inc. makes buying, selling, owning and using vehicles easier for everyone. The global company’s more than 27,000 team members and family of brands, including Autotrader®, Dealer.com®, Dealertrack®, Kelley Blue Book®, Manheim®, NextGear Capital®, VinSolutions®, vAuto® and Xtime®, are passionate about helping millions of car shoppers, 40,000 auto dealer clients across five continents and many others throughout the automotive industry thrive for generations to come. Cox Automotive is a subsidiary of Cox Enterprises Inc., a privately-owned, Atlanta-based company with annual revenues of nearly $20 billion. www.coxautoinc.com

For further information: Lisa Aloisio, Lisa.Aloisio@coxautoinc.com, 404-725-0651