Graduation is the ultimate symbol of freedom. The students walk across the stage after the hours of mind-numbing speeches and accept their diploma holders. They shake hands with the dean and switch their tassels at the end of the ceremony.
Then, hundreds of graduation caps fill the sky, and when they fall, they land in the arms of eager and hopeful graduates, who have completed the last phase of their education and have earned their freedom. If you are a recent college graduate who is very inexperienced when it comes to car shopping, check out our picks for ten cars under $20,000 for new graduates.
10 Ford Focus
Retailing for around $17,950, the Ford Focus has been an iconic and popular vehicle for two whole decades. Unfortunately, Ford has recently announced that the Ford Focus will be discontinued, but dealerships and pre-owned vehicles are still a cheap option for college grads.
This cheaper car isn't lacking in performance either: the Ford Focus gains an incredible mileage at an astonishing 40 miles to the gallon on the highway and is even powered by a high-performing V4 engine. The Focus can put out about 350 horsepower and has been produced since 1998 as both a hatchback and a sedan. Manual and automatic transmissions available.
9 Honda Civic
The Honda Civic, like the Ford Focus, is an incredibly well-performing, cheap and popular model that has earned the Honda company many accolades and fame. The Civic retails for about $19,550 and puts out some impressive numbers.
The fuel capacity on the Civic tank is 12.4 gallons and the mileage is 42 miles to the gallon on the highway. That means you can drive a whole 520 miles with a full tank. The Civic is powered by a V4 engine and produces up to 180 horsepower. The Civic is available as a sedan, coupe, or hatchback.
8 Nissan Sentra
The Nissan Sentra performs slightly worse than the Honda Civic or the Ford Focus, but remains a viable and cheap option for recent college graduates. The Nissan Sentra retails for $17,890 and is beaten by the Civic and Focus in every category except for fuel tank capacity.
The Sentra has a massive fuel tank that can hold 13.2 gallons of gas, presumably to make up for its low performing mileage of 37-mpg on the highway, but it’s not that bad. Like the other two vehicles mentioned above, the Sentra is equipped with a 4-cylinder engine and can produce a maximum 188 hp.
7 Kia Forte
Next up is the Kia Forte, which retails for $17,790. The Forte maintains many similarities with the Nissan Sentra, including the same fuel tank capacity at 13.2 gallons and a slightly larger highway mileage at 38-miles to the gallon.
When bought new, the Kia Forte features a very convenient warranty, with a 5-year or 60,000 miles basic warranty or a 10-year and 100,000 miles powertrain warranty. The Kia Forte also comes equipped with the latest tech found in vehicles, such as a display, a Smart Trunk and wireless charging facilities for mobile devices.
6 Hyundai Elantra
Retailing at $17,450, it's the Hyundai Elantra. The Elantra is sleek and reliable and comes with some great features, such as energy-saving headlights that will truly prove their worth in the long run. The Elantra comes with 4 trims, 3 of which are available for under $20,000, ranging anywhere from $17,450 to $19,100.
All of the Elantra models come with collision avoidance systems, wireless charging and a display that supports Apple's CarPlay or Android Auto. The Elantra also comes with high-beam assist technology and advanced cruise control. It's a great choice for someone who puts a careful emphasis on safety.
5 Chevrolet Cruze
Next up is the Chevrolet Cruze, retailing for $16,975. the Cruze is available as a sedan and hatchback, and it is also very technologically advanced. Due to its turbo-diesel engine, the Cruze is extremely powerful and has an unparalleled mileage, at a ridiculous 52 miles to the gallon on the highway.
In addition to that, the Cruze has built-in Wi-Fi and supports phone integration such as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Additionally, the Cruze's mobile app is a top of the line application that can start the car, lock the doors and more.
4 Mitsubishi Mirage
The Mitsubishi Mirage retails for $13,795 and Mitsubishi oast that it is "the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid car in America." The Mirage seats 5 people and gets 43-mpg on the highway in terms of mileage. In addition, the Mirage comes with a standard 10 year/100,000 miles powertrain warranty.
The Mirage is technologically advanced and supports popular features such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It also comes equipped with other features such as keyless entry, a rearview camera for added safety and a display on the dash that offers Bluetooth capabilities and more.
3 Honda Fit
The Honda Fit falls a little short when compared to the other vehicles on this list, but is still a cheap alternative to higher-priced cars at its low price of $16,190. For this price, the performance of the Fit is average but not the greatest.
This car gets mileage of only 36-mpg on the highway and comes with a standard tech package, but also has the unique Honda Sensing technology. Honda Sensing technology essentially offers three safety measures: automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane control. Also, the Fit comes with Bluetooth and mobile integration and a display.
2 Toyota Corolla
Next up is the Toyota Corolla. This car is available in seven models, two of which retail for below $20,000: the Toyota Corolla L and the Corolla LE. They retail for $19,500 and 19,950 respectively and offer an average performance on the road.
The Corolla's mileage is estimated to be 38 miles to the gallon on the highway and it comes equipped with the popular Toyota Safety Sense. The Safety Sense technology offers the same safety features as Honda's Sensing technology such as Pedestrian Detection, auto-braking to avoid a collision, adaptive cruise control, lane maintenance, road sign assistance, and automatic headlight adjustments.
1 Volkswagen Jetta
Finally, presenting the Volkswagen Jetta. The Jetta currently sells for $18,745 and comes with a transferable 6-years/72,000-miles warranty and offers a limited bumper-to-bumper warranty as well.
The Jetta's design is sporty and sleek and makes a great first impression. The exterior of the Jetta is highlighted by its LED headlights and taillights, while the interior boasts Volkswagen's new 10-color ambient lighting feature. The Jetta also has a panoramic sunroof to bring in the sunshine and two-tone leatherette seats that offer incomparable comfort. The seats also offer ventilation to cool you down on a hot day and are heated for the chilly winters.