IRVINE, Calif. — The editorial staff at Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com, provider of new- and used-vehicle information, recently released its list of top back-to-school vehicles.
The criteria for the list was based on four main factors: reliability, affordability, safety and practicality. Vehicles were also chosen on the "coolness" factor. However, staffers pointed out that each vehicle had its own distinct advantage. Some come with longer warranties while others tout the latest technology innovations. This is one of the reasons why Kelley Blue Book created two list for 2007: new and used. The two lists consist of vehicles with a Kelley Blue Book Value of less than $18,000.
TOP 10 BACK-TO-SCHOOL VEHICLES: NEW
2007 CHEVROLET SILVERADO 1500 REGULAR CAB
For students living at home, a back-to-school vehicle purchase might be a great opportunity to augment the family fleet with something that can pull double duty. In addition to a rugged persona and daily driver dependability, the Chevy Silverado has what it takes to tackle big weekend projects.
MSRP: $17,815 NEW CAR BLUE BOOK: $17,459
2007 HONDA FIT SPORT
The sub-compact Honda Fit blends five-door functionality with clever interior flexibility, highway fuel economy up to 35 miles per gallon and enough enthusiasm to warrant an available sport model with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
MSRP: $16,565 NEW CAR BLUE BOOK: $16,731
2008 JEEP PATRIOT SPORT
Jeep’s newest nameplate is both a perfectly sensible commuter car and a terrific camping companion, offering a unique balance of economy, comfort and capability. (Manual transmission)
MSRP: $16,035 NEW CAR BLUE BOOK: $16,035
2007 KIA RIO5 SX HATCHBACK
Available as a four-door sedan or a five-door hatchback, the Rio’s sub-$12,000 starting price and impressive fuel economy combine to reduce both monthly payments and gas bills. Six standard airbags and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty help ease the minds of buyers wary of less-familiar brands.
MSRP: $15,220 NEW CAR BLUE BOOK: $14,916
2008 MAZDA3 i SPORT SEDAN
Even as they enter their fifth model year, the MAZDA3 sedan and hatchback still deliver a combination of fun, style, versatility and affordability unmatched in the category.
MSRP: $15,390 NEW CAR BLUE BOOK: $15,313
2008 MITSUBISHI LANCER DE
Sporty and economical is a winning combination for image-conscious but cash-strapped young drivers, and the all-new Lancer offers a compelling mix of both.
MSRP: $16,515 NEW CAR BLUE BOOK: $16,350
2008 NISSAN VERSA S SEDAN
By combining roomy accommodations, a comfortable highway ride and technologies like Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and remote-sensing unlock and start, the Versa sedan and five-door deliver a small taste of luxury at dorm-room prices.
MSRP: $13,975 NEW CAR BLUE BOOK: $13,975
2008 SCION xB SPORT WAGON
Scion’s second-generation “box-on-wheels” is larger, more powerful and less square than its predecessor. In addition to air conditioning and power windows/locks/mirrors, the xB’s standard equipment list includes such back-to-school essentials as iPod integration and a six-speaker Pioneer sound system.
MSRP: $17,220 NEW CAR BLUE BOOK: $17,306
2007 SUZUKI SX4 HATCHBACK
As the least expensive all-wheel-drive vehicle sold in America, the SX4 offers exceptional value for those studying in the Snow Belt. Combined with its versatility and scrappy good looks, the SX4 is the sleeper hit of the back-to-school season.
MSRP: $16,724 NEW CAR BLUE BOOK: $16,640
2008 VOLKSWAGEN RABBIT
It doesn’t take a semester abroad to understand why the Rabbit is a perennial best-seller in Europe (where it’s still called the Golf). In addition to hatchback sensibility, the Rabbit combines a spunky five-cylinder engine, eager handling and a level of interior refinement unmatched in the price range.
MSRP: $17,205 NEW CAR BLUE BOOK: $17,205
TOP 10 BACK-TO-SCHOOL VEHICLES: USED
Whether you’re looking for a lower payment, more features or some combination of both, today’s used vehicle market is filled with more desirable options than ever. All of the following vehicles have a Kelley Blue Book Suggested Retail Value — the asking price you can expect from a dealer, from which can you can negotiate downward — of less than $12,000.
2005 CHEVROLET COBALT SEDAN
Available as a sporty two-door coupe or a more friend-friendly four-door sedan, Chevy’s comfortable and fuel-efficient compact car makes an especially appealing used vehicle thanks to marginal resale values.
KELLEY BLUE BOOK USED RETAIL VALUE: $11,650
2004 FORD FOCUS ZX3 HATCHBACK
Available in three-door, four-door, five-door and wagon body styles, each of which combines varying levels of economy, versatility and zip, the Focus lineup offers a custom fit at off-the-rack pricing.
KELLEY BLUE BOOK USED RETAIL VALUE: $9,755
2003 FORD MUSTANG 2D COUPE
A sneaky way for parents to enjoy the Mustang they never had — or wish they’d kept — is to buy one for their kid. A true muscle car when equipped with the V8, a V6 Mustang makes for a more economical, more justifiable first car.
KELLEY BLUE BOOK USED RETAIL VALUE: $11,600
2003 HONDA CIVIC DX COUPE
Built on a foundation of unquestioned reliability, the Civic owes much of its well-deserved reputation to fuel economy, interior quality and varying amounts of style and sprightliness.
KELLEY BLUE BOOK USED RETAIL VALUE: $11,865
2006 HYUNDAI ACCENT GLS SEDAN
The only 2006 model on our list was redesigned just as recently and combines an impressive list of standard safety equipment with smart sub-compact styling. A 10-year/100,000-mile warranty and lower-than-average resale values make this high-value new car an even better value used.
KELLEY BLUE BOOK USED RETAIL VALUE: $11,600
2003 MAZDA TRIBUTE DX
Mazda’s version of the Ford Escape/Mercury Mariner compact crossover SUV offers available all-wheel drive along with enough cargo room to swallow all the provisions of a spring break road trip.
KELLEY BLUE BOOK USED RETAIL VALUE: $11,615
2003 MAZDA PROTÉGÉ5
Not quite as stylish or sporty as their successor, the Protégé sedan and five-door Protégé5 nevertheless blend many of the same elements that have made the Mazda3 such a big hit, including a generous helping of fun-to-drive.
KELLEY BLUE BOOK USED RETAIL VALUE: $11,915
2005 NISSAN SENTRA SEDAN
It drives well, rides comfortably and sips gas, but Nissan’s well-built, entry-level sedan doesn’t command the same resale values as category stalwarts Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla — making it a smart used-car purchase.
KELLEY BLUE BOOK USED RETAIL VALUE: $11,450
2004 PONTIAC VIBE SPORT WAGON
Products of a joint venture between GM and Toyota, the Pontiac Vibe is a fraternal twin to the Toyota Matrix. While both models offer the same cargo-hauling versatility and great fuel economy, the Pontiac is the better used-car value as it commands slightly lower resale values than the model with the Toyota badge.
KELLEY BLUE BOOK USED RETAIL VALUE: $11,945
2003 TOYOTA TACOMA SHORTBED
The previous-generation Tacoma is just as bulletproof as today’s model, and just as eager to haul, tow and get dirty. The fact that you can move an entire dorm room full of stuff in one trip only boosts its appeal.
KELLEY BLUE BOOK USED RETAIL VALUE: $11,030