Becoming a college graduate is a life-changing milestone. Perhaps you’re getting your first job, entering a new field, or progressing in a current one. Even though student loans can be abundant, there is no reason you can’t ride around in style after all that hard work. So today’s Top Ten Tuesday is giving you a nice set of options to help you do just that, all while maintaining your budget.
Kia Optima (Starting Price: $21,650)
Kia really put together a great sedan with the Optima. With a reasonable base price, the Optima offers 23mpg in the city and 34 on the highway, great style inside and out, 16-inch alloy wheels, heated outside mirrors, and a 192hp 2.4-liter engine. Also standard to start is Bluetooth, power driver’s seat, fog lights, cruise control, steering-wheel mounted controls, remote keyless entry, electronic stability control, brake-fore distribution and s brake assist system. Some of the Optima’s more notable options include power-folding outside mirrors, automatic HID headlights, 18-inch alloy wheels, UVO eServices infotainment, rear-view camera, rear cross-traffic alert, navigation, drive mode select, push-button start, Nappa leather trim, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knobs.
Mazda6 (Starting Price: $ 21,190)
Another great sedan option is the recently redesigned Mazda6, which offers 3 variants to choose from. Standard on the Mazda6 is a 184hp 2.5-liter Skyactiv-G engine that comes mated to your choice of a manual or an automatic transmission, and gets 25mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. Also standard comes automatic halogen headlights, 17-inch wheels, daytime running lights, LED taillights, one-touch power windows, remote keyless entry with push-button start, cruise control, rear-view camera, Bluetooth, leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, USB, 5.8-inch full-color touch-screen display, HD Radio, SMS Texting and dynamic stability control. Notable options include automatic Bi-Xenon HID headlights, adaptive front lighting, 8-way power driver’s seat, variable heated front seats, advanced keyless entry, Bose Cetnerpoint surround sound system, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather-trimmed seats, rain sensing windshield wipers, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, high beam control and forward obstruction warning.
Volkswagen Passat (Starting Price: $20,995)
Volkswagen offers 4 different versions of the Passat, including a Sport Edition, TDI Clean Diesel, and a 280hp V6. To start, the first German offering on our list gets its power from a 1.8-liter turbo that produces 170hp, gets 24 mpg in the city with 34 mpg on the highway, and offers a 5-speed manual and a 6-speed automatic with Tiptronic Sport mode. Standard offerings also include halogen headlights, Bluetooth, AUX-in, multi-function steering wheel all folded in with the Passat’s clean lines and simplistic interior layout. Reaching the top of the line, available features include a Fender premium audio system, remote start, touchscreen navigation, VW Car-Net, electronic stability control, intelligent crash response system, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather-trimmed seats, 8-way power adjustable front seats, keyless entry with push-button start and a rearview camera.
Mazda3 (Starting Price: $16,945)
The Mazda3 is the first offering on our top list that offers a 5-door hatchback variant. Power for the Mazda comes from a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder making 155hp mated to a 6-speed manual or an automatic transmission, or an available 184hp 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine. Fuel economy is rated at 29 city/ 41 hwy, which is better than anything listed so far. Some standout standard features on the Mazda3 include daytime running lights, power windows with one-touch up/down, remote keyless entry, push button start, steering-wheel mounted audio controls, aux-in, USB, electronic brakeforce distribution and dynamic stability control. While the Mazda3 offers the lowest starting price, it doesn’t come standard with as much as others on the list either. However, a well-equipped Mazda3 still comes in under 20k, and additional available features can provide a wealth of technology and safety features. Some of those available are a one-touch mooonroof, advanced keyless entry and start, automatic on/off Bi-xenon headlights, adaptive front lighting, rain sensing windshield wipers, LED daytime running lights, adaptive front-lighting system, 6-way power driver’s seat, variable heated front seats, Bluetooth, 7-inch color touchscreen with an infotainment system, perforated leather seating, active blind spot monitoring system, lane departure warning system, forward obstruction warning system, smart city brake support, high beam control and Mazda radar cruise control.
Ford Mustang (Starting Price: $22,150)
The Ford Mustang is one of the attainable muscle cars on our list, that seats four and gets 19 mpg in the city, 29 on the highway and is powered by a 305hp V6 to start. If grown up power is what you’re looking for, this is the place to start. Some standard features include HID headlamps, sequential LED tail lamps, a 6-speed manual transmission and a dual stainless steel exhaust. Available features and performance upgrades are extensive, as the line tops out at a $60,000 Shelby GT powerhouse, however we can give you a feel for all that Ford has to offer. Performance enhancements range from Launch Control to a V6 performance package with upgrades like front springs, 19-inch wheels, and stability control calibration. Exterior design features include an optional convertible top, glass roof, LED fog lamps, gloss black appliques and power dome, while interior and technology includes, track apps for performance metrics, signature lighting, Sync with AppLink, rearview camera, leather wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, Recaro seats, Shaker audio system, HD Radio, aluminum accents and leather-trimmed heated front seats.
Chevrolet Camaro (Starting Price: $23,555)
The Chevrolet Camaro is another great option for muscle car power, with a standard V6 that pumps out 323hp, and again, a powerful range to choose from. It still offers a combined epa estimate of 30 miles per gallon, and standard features like 18-inch aluminum wheels, dual-outlet stainless steel exhaust, 6-speed manual transmission with hill-hold, power door locks and windows, Bluetooth and OnStar. Additional options up the line include sport cloth seats, projector-style fog lamps, USB, MyLink, 19-inch wheels, leather seating, color head up display, color driver information center, Boston Acoustics sound system, rear vision package, daytime running lamps, sunroof, 21-inch wheels, sueded microfiber-wrapped flat-bottom steering wheel, cruise control, leather wrapped shift knob and OnStar emergency services.
Jeep Wrangler (Starting Price: $22,395)
The Jeep Wrangler is perfect for the adventurous graduate who enjoys the outdoors and rough terrain. It gets 17mpg in the city and 21 on the highway, is powered by a 3.6-liter V6 mated to a 6-speed manual transmission and sits on a set of 16-inch wheels for the Sport model. Across the range, Jeep offers a 5-speed automatic transmission, a 4WD shift-on-the-fly system, performance suspension or heavy-duty suspension, air conditioning with automatic temperature control, power door locks and one-touch front windows, leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, 115-volt auxiliary power outlet, rear compartment with covered storage, Uconnect voice command, Bluetooth, Alpine sound system, Sundrier soft top or 3-piece hard top, half metal doors with locks, rock rails, front and rear stabilizer bars, remote start, electronic roll mitigation and hill start assist.
Honda Accord Coupe (Starting Price: 23,626)
The Accord Coupe is a fun to drive, sporty offering from Honda that comes standard with a substantial spread of features. Although it has two doors it still offers room for 5, gets 25mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway and is powered by a 185hp 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine. Honda has 6 variants to choose from, but the base model offers up dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth, SMS Texting, Power windows and door locks, cruise control, USB, aux, illuminated multifunction steering wheel, iMID 8-inch screen with customizable features, rearview camera with guidelines, vehicle stability assist, anti-lock braking system, brake assist, daytime running lights, hill start assist, active sound control and noise cancellation, remote entry and automatic projector beam headlights. A 278hp 3.5-liter V6 is also available, as well as options like LED daytime running lights, 18-inch alloy wheels, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, navigation, Song By Voice, Hard Disc Drive with 16-GB of memory, touch screen, push-button start, one-touch power moonroof Smart Entry system and HondaLink.
Hyundai Sonata (Starting Price: $21,150)
Freshly remodeled for 2015, the Hyundai Sonata is affordable yet offers a luxury feel. It has an mpg rating of 25 city/ 37 hwy, is powered by either a 185hp 2.4-liter 4-cylinder to start or a 2.0-liter turbo that makes 245hp, has a 6-speed automatic transmission and is front wheel drive. 16-inch alloy wheels comes standard, while up to 18-inch wheels are available. Also available on the Sonata is a panoramic sunroof, automatic high beam assist, LED daytime running lights, HID headlights, LED taillights, power heated side mirrors, hands-free smart trunk, chrome tipped single exhaust with a dual available, rear lip spoiler, proximity key entry with push button start, dual front automatic temperature control, 8-way power driver’s seat and heated front and rear seats, ventilated front seats and leather seating surfaces, heated steering wheel, Bluetooth, Blue Link, iPod and USB, smart cruise control with stop/start capability, Infinity sound system, HD Radio, 5-inch color LCD touchscreen, 4.2-inch LCD trip computer, blind spot detection, lane change assist, rear view camera, lane departure warning, rear parking assist, forward collision warning, vehicle stability management, electronic stability control and electronic brake force distribution.
Acura ILX (Starting Price: $27,050)
The Acura ILX is perfect for those craving a luxury vehicle, where a Sonata or a Passat just won’t do. While the model holds the highest starting price, it offers quite a few premium features standard. A 150hp 2.0-liter 4-cylinder powers the front-wheel drive ILX, and it gets 24mpg in the city and 35mpg on the highway. The base model is equipped with perforated leather-trimmed heated sports seats in the front, an 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat, dual-zone automatic climate control with humidity control, 5-inch color information display, keyless access with smart entry and pushbutton ignition, Acura premium audio system, Bluetooth, HandsFreeLink, SMS Texting and a set of 17-inch wheels. Available for the ILX is a set of Xenon HID headlights, fog lights, Acura Navigation with voice recognition, ELS surround sound, HomeLink, active sound control, automated appointments, Song By Voice, and sport features for the 6-speed manual version that include a 201hp 2.4-liter 4-cylinder, contrast interior trim stitching and stainless sport pedals. Additional highlights like a multi-view rearview camera, real-time weather and traffic, zagat reviews, destination database, and vehicle stability assist are also offered.