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Five best cars picks for new grads

So you’re a smart young grad, with the ink barely dry on your diploma. Now it’s time to start acting like an adult and get a job, a place to live, and a car.

The sensible advice is to take public transit if you’ve got student loans to pay off, but that doesn’t work for everyone. If you don’t live in a large city with a reliable network, or if you need wheels for a new job, then adding a car loan to you monthly expenses may be the only option. Welcome to adulthood, isn’t it great?

It’s easy to fixate on price - and you should. After all, you’re going to be paying for this car long after the new-car smell is gone and you’ve given up vacuuming the interior. But there are a few other considerations: New or used, financing terms, not to mention options, packages, and rebates.

Used versus new

You can get a cheap used car, but the reliability of that car could be questionable. With low interest rates and long-term financing, new cars can look appealing to buyers who don’t have money set aside for potentially costly repairs.

“If you want the reliability of a new car, manufacturers are offering great long-term financing options,” says Radek Garbowski, COO of Unhaggle.com. “Zero per cent for 84 months for certain brands, that works nicely, you get into a vehicle for a couple hundred biweekly or even monthly and still be driving a brand new vehicle.”

However if used cars are still the best choice for your budget, purchasing a vehicle history report from a site like CarProof.com can be smart, and have a mechanic check the car before you agree to the sale.

Monthly payment

It’s a good idea to keep your budget limitations to yourself at a dealership during negotiations. But most buyers do need to keep their monthly car payment in check. Long-term financing programs are a good alternative to the used car market, says Garbowski.

“A new-car warranty, low-interest financing mean fewer headaches. Financing options sometimes tip the scale. You can’t get zero per cent financing on a used car. Those promos from manufacturers help new grads get into new cars.”

Size

If you are trying to keep costs down, compacts and sub-compacts will top your shopping list. If you want a larger sedan, buying used may be a better option. Also keep fuel economy in mind; larger vehicles, crossovers and SUVs will cost you more at the pumps.

How to Shop

Buyers used to go to five dealerships to search for a car, explains Garbowski. Now it’s about 1.6. Young buyers especially are researching everything online, watching reviews, and using car shopping services such as Unhaggle.com and CarCostCanada.com before setting foot in a dealership. Realizing this is what buyers want, smart dealerships are embracing the transparent car buying experience.

CarProof has found that “the majority of Gen-Y consumers spend more than 10 hours researching and consider three or more brands before they purchase or lease a vehicle.”

Here are five vehicles with low monthly payments, all with graduate rebates to help sweeten the deal. 

2015 Kia Forte LX 6AT

2015 Kia Forte

Manufacturer Rebate (Cash Purchase): $3,250

Graduate Rebate: $500

Total Savings: $4,339

Total Before Sales Tax: $16,126

Finance Monthly Payment (84 Months, 2.49%): $237

 

2015 Volkswagen Jetta 2.0L Trendline 6AT

2015 Volkswagen Jetta 2.0L

Manufacturer Rebate (Cash Purchase): $2,000

Graduate Rebate: $750

Total Savings: $3,225

Total Before Sales Tax: $14,905

Finance Monthly Payment (84 Months, 1.90%): $243

 

2015 Chevrolet Cruze 2LS

Green Car Reports

Manufacturer Rebate (Cash Purchase): $2,000

Graduate Rebate: $500

Total Savings: $3,101

Total Before Sales Tax: $17,467

Finance Monthly Payment (84 Months, 0%): $262


2015 Mazda3 GX-SKY Comfort Group 6AT

Mazda3

Manufacturer Rebate (Cash Purchase): $1,250

Graduate Rebate: $400

Total Savings: $2,108

Total Before Sales Tax: $18,763

Finance Monthly Payment (84 Months, 1.99%): $283

 

2015 Mitsubishi Lancer SE CVT

2015 Lancer SE

Manufacturer Rebate (Cash Purchase): $1,300

Graduate Rebate: $500

Total Savings: $2,370

Total Before Sales Tax: $19,821

Finance Monthly Payment (84 Months, 1.99%): $293

Source: Unhaggle.com