College students are important forces in the car-buying market. While most college campuses are easily traversed by foot or public transportation, most students would benefit greatly from having a car. Not only would they benefit, but just about every student wants to have his or her own car. Having a car in college is a step towards adulthood and independence and is quite convenient. Having a car means that you can commute to work or class, move your things around easily, and escape to the curvy canyon roads when classes become a bit too stressful.
Students need certain things from their cars. They need a car that's spacious in order to haul both their friends and all of their worldly belongings when they eventually move apartments. The cars should be cheap to fix and operate, as students often operate on fairly tight budgets. The car should also look attractive because what better place to show off than in front of tens of thousands of like-minded people? Additionally, the car should be reliable, again due to the tight budgets of students.
The cars on this list, unfortunately, don't possess any of these qualities. They're a mess of all sorts of issues, many of which are total deal breakers. Some are poorly styled, leading their drivers to be the laughing stock on campus. Others are incredibly expensive to repair and maintain, stretching the student budget too far. Either way, this is a list of cars students should avoid at all costs.
15 Cadillac Escalade
The Cadillac Escalade, while appealing at first, isn't so when you look a little closer. The Escalade is huge, which is a double-edged sword. While the size means that you can cram many of your friends into the car, it also means that you’ll leave parking lots covered in scratches and dents. The large car is oversized for a college campus and will cost you a lot of money in gas with all of the driving you’ll be doing. Having a car this big unofficially designates you as your group’s taxi driver, which is something most people want to avoid.
14 Audi A3
To be fair, the Audi A3 is an excellent car. It's sporty, sleek, and quick, and it can do just about everything that its big brother A4 can. However, those things don’t necessarily translate well to a college campus. The A3 is surprisingly small and doesn’t leave much backseat room for your friends to relax during road trips. The expensive car is, unfortunately, likely to get messed with by other students who are jealous or annoyed at your ride. The flashy car may also run you a pricey bill if anything goes wrong, as Audis are notoriously expensive to service.
13 Range Rover
Range Rovers are desired by many people, especially cash-strapped students. They're flashy, well known, and luxurious.
Most drivers would rather be sitting behind the wheel of this glamorous and comfortable SUV, but unfortunately, there are many downsides to ownership.
The SUV is expensive, both to operate and to fix. It costs a lot to fill up with premium gas, get premium oil changes, and fix something when it inevitably breaks. Range Rovers are known for being finicky and unreliable, and you’ll likely be spending a lot of time in the dealership lobby waiting for your ride to be returned to you.
12 Mini Cooper
The Mini Cooper isn't the ideal car for college students. It may look cute and exotic, but what’s not so cute are the expensive repairs bills that you’ll be stacking up. The car has been manufactured by BMW since 2000, and BMW is certainly not known for their reliability. The early model years of the newest Mini Cooper were known for especially terrible engines and transmissions, both of which cost quite a bit to fix. This finicky mess of a car is best avoided. To make the whole package worse, the Mini, especially the coupe, is incredibly small. Good luck fitting your friends or possessions in there.
11 Smart Car
The Smart Car is perhaps the best-known small car of the modern age. Its small size may seem appealing at face value, as the car is admittedly easy to park and good on gas. In fact, it can park perpendicular to the curb in the space that the width of a normal car would take up.
The maneuverability is appealing on a cramped college campus; however, the small size has a downside. You can only fit one other passenger in the car, which isn't ideal for traveling to and from places with a group of friends.
Not only that, but the tiny car has hardly any cargo space, making any trip difficult.
10 Ford F350
Truck enthusiasts may rave about the Ford F350, but it's not the car for students. This truck does have some positive qualities, such as its ability to haul a lot of people, cargo, or a combination of the two. The truck is capable, although, on a concrete campus, its towing and extreme prowess in inclement weather will go unused. Buying this truck for college is akin to locking a wild beast in a cage – you’ve restrained something that's meant to run free and aren't using it to its full potential. Beyond that, the F350 gets poor mileage and is unwieldy in small parking lots.
9 Jaguar XJR
The Jaguar XJR is a classy British sedan that'll make you feel like an undercover officer playing the role of a student. Beyond the sleek exterior lies a mess of problems, which is a sad situation because the Jag is so appealing.
British cars, especially Jaguars, are known for being extremely unreliable.
Additionally, the parts are hard to find and must be imported, resulting in an even more expensive endeavor when it comes to fixing the old sedan. The XJR, which can be quite cheap, presents itself to students as an alluring and fun ride; however, the ownership experience is anything but.
8 Ford Transit
The Ford Transit van is something that works well if you have real work to accomplish and can be quite a useful tool to keep around. However, if you’re a student, this ride is something you’ll want to stay far away from. First of all, it’s a bit big to roll around campus in, creating a struggle for the owner. It’s ugly and isn't something that'll impress anyone at the school. Many cars are just average, which is perfectly fine, but this one is straight up ugly. It’s also creepy. College campuses are filled with enough creeps already, and even if you’re not one, you don’t want to be adding to that atmosphere with this objectionable ride.
7 Mazda Miata
The Mazda Miata is an excellent little car and can actually be great for some students. However, it has qualities that make it undesirable.
If you’re constantly trying to hang out with your friends and be the driver of your group, stay away from the Miata.
You’ll only have space for you and one friend and not much room at all for cargo. If you’re trying to move into a new apartment or out of the dorms, you’ll have to suck it up and borrow a friend’s car because the Miata won’t have space for more than a suitcase. Plus, the cloth convertible top is easily slashed by thieves looking to steal your fake Ray Bans.
6 Fiat 500
The Fiat 500 is a problematic car that doesn’t work well for any student. The “fix it again, Tony” joke holds true – any Fiat you buy is likely to run you an expensive bill at the mechanic and keep you waiting for repairs longer than you’ll be behind the wheel. The car isn't practical at all and won’t hold many of your friends or their gear. You're better off with a sedan, which will be much more reliable and practical. To top it all off, the Fiat 500 is more of a fashion accessory than it is an actual car and, therefore, is a waste of money.
5 Chrysler Town & Country
The Chrysler Town & Country may be practical, but unfortunately, this minivan is unreliable.
The college budget doesn't leave room for rides like this, and for that, it should be avoided.
The space to haul people is enticing, although having a bunch of college kids stuck in the back of your car is not. If everyone has been out drinking and one of them is about to throw up, your carpet and seats had better buckle up because none of the windows will roll down, leaving you with quite the mess to clean up. It’s best to avoid this unattractive ride.
4 Original Volkswagen Beetle
The original Volkswagen Beetle is a nifty little car that attracts lots of enthusiasts. However, the car isn't great for students. The interior is small and cramped, not leaving much room for you, your friends, or your stuff. No one is hankering to cram into a small coupe to go on an adventure. You’re better off with a Jetta or a Passat of any generation. Additionally, if you live in a place that gets a lot of snow, the Beetle will be terrible for you. Its RWD system isn't built for snow and will likely leave you stranded or spinning your tires in heavy snowfall.
3 BMW 7 Series
A used BMW 7 Series is alluring to every car enthusiast, whether or not he or she's a student. The long and sleek sedan is the epitome of luxury and can seem appealing when one's looking at the cheap price of used models. However, remember that BMWs are expensive to run and service, and fancy imported parts will cost you quite a bit of money.
Older BMWs are also notoriously unreliable, and the 7 Series is no exception.
Not only does the engine have a host of issues, but the spiffy electronic features that give this car an expensive price tag are also known for failure.
2 Ferrari 458
Most students aren’t likely to be driving any sort of Ferrari, much less a new 458. However, there are some that have that kind of money and can even easily afford this supercar. However, it's one of the worst cars you could possibly bring to college. It’s not at all practical, holding room for only one friend and hardly anything else. It’s also far too flashy for a campus. You’ll be mobbed everywhere you go. Students will want a photo of the car, to talk to you about it, or to ask for a ride. While these consequences of supercar ownership may be appealing to some people, they're incredibly inconvenient for a college student.
1 Peel P50
The Peel P50 is the smallest production car in the world. It has a top speed of around 30 miles per hour, but with a lack of airbags and safety features, it’s unlikely that you’ll want to go that fast. You’re better off driving a golf cart around campus. The P50 is so small that you practically have to fold yourself into a ball just to fit inside. There isn’t technically enough room for you inside this car, let alone any friends or gear or even just a backpack. You’d be better off with no car, as this thing is basically a deathtrap.