KBB’s best back-to-school cars are ‘safe, reliable,’ and $20K or less

It’s back-to-school shopping season, and one of the largest items on the list could be a car.

What sort of car it is will probably vary, depending on whether you’re approaching the purchase as a student or parent.

As a student, you might be relishing the prospect of your very first vehicle and envisioning the coolest new ride in which to enjoy your independence. As a parent, you may be more concerned with safety and cost. Providing a meeting place between the two are Kelley Blue Book’s 10 best for the new school year.

Handpicked by the editors, these vehicles get high marks for their blend of safety, reliability and affordability, as well as cool. Each 2019 model is priced at around $20,000 or less, based on KBB.com’s fair purchase price, and offers a smart way to turn up for class.


Subaru Impreza sedan and five-door parked by trees
Recommended for school drives, the Subaru Impreza is available in two body styles.


10 best back-to-school cars of 2019

Includes KBB.com’s fair purchase price

  1. Toyota Corolla Hatchback, $19,205
  2. Kia Soul, $16,138
  3. Honda Civic, $18,505
  4. Mazda Mazda3, $20,913
  5. Volkswagen Jetta, $16,749
  6. Honda Fit, $16,080
  7. Hyundai Kona, $19,638
  8. Honda HR-V, $20,538
  9. Subaru Impreza, $18,141
  10. Nissan Kicks, $18,290


Start off the school year safely

Students and non-students alike should keep in mind that roads will be busier when the new academic year gets under way. Being aware of your speed, allowing enough commuting time to avoid a rush, and staying off the mobile phone are just some of the ways you can be a responsible driver at this time and throughout the year. Read more in our back-to-school driving safety tips article.


Find and finance a car

Enjoy an easy car-buying process with online lender RoadLoans. We accept applications from consumers with a broad range of credit profiles, provide multiple offers for approved applicants, and connect customers with a trusted dealership nearby.

Apply for a car loan online.


Written by:

Competitive Rates

Lower your monthly car payments by applying for a car loan with RoadLoans.com.

Apply for a Loan

*View disclosures & offer information
Dodge Charger