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Five best cars picks for new grads

Danielle Boudreau

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
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

<strong style=mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;><span style=font-size: 9.5pt; mso-bidi-font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 107%; font-family: Arial; mso-fareast-font-family: 'ヒラギノ角ゴ Pro W3'; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #191919; mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA;>2015 Volkswagen Jetta 2.0L </span></b>
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
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
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
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