The 12 Best Cars for Students in Canada

By Arthur Dubois | Published on 19 Jun 2023

Best Cars for Students in Canada
Share with FacebookShare with FacebookShare with TwitterShare with TwitterShare with Twitter

    As a student, owning a car can be a freedom-inducing necessity. It can save you time when commuting to school or work and offer more flexibility in your schedule. However, with a tight budget, finding a reasonably priced car with good fuel economy, safety features, and low maintenance costs can be a daunting task. In this article, we’ll explore the 12 best cars for students in Canada.

    Understanding the Needs of Student Drivers in Canada

    As a student driver in Canada, there are several factors that you need to consider before purchasing a car. While having a car can provide you with much-needed independence and convenience, it’s essential to choose a vehicle that meets your needs and fits within your budget. In this article, we’ll explore the factors that are important for student drivers in Canada and provide you with some budget-friendly car options.

    Budget-friendly options

    As a student, you likely have limited funds to spend on a car. Therefore, finding a car that is affordable and reliable is crucial. You should consider the cost of the car itself, ongoing expenses such as maintenance and insurance costs, as well as any other debts you have such as student loan payments. Some budget-friendly car options for student drivers in Canada include Nissan Versa and Kia Rio. These cars are known for their affordability, reliability, and fuel efficiency.

    Fuel efficiency

    Gas prices in Canada can be quite high, so choosing a car with good fuel economy is essential. Not only will it save you money in the long run, but it’s also better for the environment. 

    Safety features

    Driving can be risky, especially for new drivers. Therefore, it’s crucial to choose a car with advanced safety features. These features can help prevent accidents and protect you in the event of a collision. Some of the essential safety features to look for in a car include airbags, anti-lock brakes, stability control, and blind-spot monitoring. The Mazda 3 and Subaru Impreza are known for their excellent safety features.

    Reliability and low maintenance costs

    No one wants to be stranded on the road dealing with unexpected car troubles. Therefore, choosing a reliable car with low maintenance costs is crucial. Some of the most reliable cars for student drivers in Canada include the Toyota Corolla and Mazda 3. These cars are known for their longevity and low maintenance costs.

    Overall, when choosing a car as a student driver in Canada, you need to consider your budget, fuel efficiency, safety features, and reliability. By doing so, you’ll be able to find a car that meets your needs and provides you with the independence and convenience you desire.

    The 5 Best Compact Cars for Students

    As a student, finding a reliable and affordable car is essential. Compact cars are a great option for students as they offer excellent fuel economy, easy maneuverability, and affordable maintenance costs. Here are the top 5 compact cars for students:

    Nissan Versa

    The Nissan Versa is one of the most popular choices for sedans in the compact car market. With highly affordable pricing, safety features and fuel economy, it is a car that fits the needs of the student population and/or others looking for an entry-level sedan. The car also offers higher headroom and legroom in the front seat, and boasts a trunk size that rivals slightly larger cars.  

    Pricing (new): $19,798 for base 2023 model

    Pricing (used): From $10,000 and up

    Toyota Corolla

    The Toyota Corolla is another top performer in the compact car category. It offers excellent fuel economy and reliability, making it a great choice for students who want a car that won’t break the bank. The Toyota Corolla also comes with Toyota’s Safety Sense package, which includes pre-collision safety features such as automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection. This package ensures that you and your passengers stay safe while on the road.

    Pricing (new): $25,805 for base 2023 model

    Pricing (used): From $14,000 and up

    Mazda3

    The Mazda3 is a stylish compact car that’s fun to drive and affordable to maintain. It comes equipped with advanced safety features such as adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and automatic emergency braking, making it a great option for students who want a car that’s both safe and stylish. Additionally, the Mazda3 offers a comfortable and spacious interior, making it a great option for road trips or daily commutes.

    Pricing (new): $21,990 for base 2023 model

    Pricing (used): From $12,000 and up

    Hyundai Elantra

    The Hyundai Elantra is a value-packed compact car that comes loaded with convenient features. It offers a touchscreen infotainment system, dual-zone automatic climate control, and wireless charging, making it a great option for students who want a car that’s both practical and convenient. The Hyundai Elantra is also available with advanced safety features such as blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, giving you peace of mind while on the road.

    Pricing (new): $22,956 for base 2023 model

    Pricing (used): From $13,000 and up

    Volkswagen Golf

    The Volkswagen Golf is a sporty compact car that offers lively handling and great fuel economy. It boasts a wide range of advanced safety features, including automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, making it a great option for students who want a car that’s both fun to drive and safe. Additionally, the Volkswagen Golf offers a spacious and comfortable interior, making it a worthwhile option for long road trips or daily commutes.

    Pricing (new): $35,083 for base 2023 model

    Pricing (used): From $13,000 and up

    Overall, these top 5 compact cars for students offer excellent fuel economy, reliability, and safety features. Whether you’re commuting to school or going on a road trip, these cars are sure to meet all of your needs and more.

    The 4 Best Hatchbacks for Students

    As a student, it can be challenging to find a car that’s both affordable and practical. Hatchbacks are a great option as they offer plenty of cargo space and are fuel-efficient. Here are the top 4 hatchbacks for students:

    Mitsubishi Mirage

    From an affordability and fuel economy standpoint, the Mitsubishi Mirage is hard to beat. The hatchback model particularly offers spacious cargo with seats folded down, and has a strong set of safety and convenience features that make it an ideal option for students primarily looking for a car that can take them from A to B cost-effectively.

    Pricing (new): $14,298 for base 2023 model

    Pricing (used): From $11,000 and up

    Hyundai Accent

    The Hyundai Accent is a practical and fuel-efficient hatchback that offers a comfortable ride and plenty of features. It comes with a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, making it easy for students to stay connected on the go. Additionally, the Accent comes equipped with automatic emergency braking, which can help prevent accidents on the road.

    Pricing (new): $25,515 for base 2023 model

    Pricing (used): From $15,000 and up

    Kia Rio

    The Kia Rio is an affordable and reliable hatchback that’s packed with features. It comes with a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, making it easy for students to stay connected while on the go. The Rio also offers excellent fuel economy and advanced safety features such as lane departure warning and forward-collision warning, making it a great choice for students who prioritize safety.

    Pricing (new): $17,445 for base 2023 model

    Pricing (used): From $14,000 and up

    Ford Focus

    The Ford Focus is a fun-to-drive sedan that’s perfect for students who want a little more excitement behind the wheel. With a comfortable ride and excellent fuel economy, the Focus is a great choice for both city and highway driving.

    But safety is also a top priority with the Focus, which comes equipped with advanced safety features such as automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning. Whether you’re navigating through traffic or cruising down the highway, the Focus has you covered.

    Pricing (new): Retired model

    Pricing (used): From $17,000 and up

    The 3 Best Sedans for Students

    As a student, finding the perfect car to fit your budget and lifestyle can be a challenge. Luckily, there are plenty of affordable sedans on the market that offer great value for your money. Here are the top 3 sedans for students:

    Nissan Sentra

    The Nissan Sentra is a popular choice among students thanks to its value-packed features and great fuel economy. With a comfortable ride and advanced safety features such as automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, the Sentra is a reliable and safe choice for any student.

    But that’s not all – the Sentra also boasts a spacious interior with plenty of legroom and cargo space. Whether you’re commuting to class or taking a road trip with friends, the Sentra is a versatile option.

    Pricing (new): $20,548 for base 2023 model

    Pricing (used): From $16,000 and up

    Kia Forte

    The Kia Forte is a stylish and affordable sedan that’s packed with features to make your driving experience more enjoyable. With a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto, you can stay connected and entertained on the go.

    But the Forte isn’t just about entertainment – it also comes equipped with advanced safety features such as forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking to keep you and your passengers safe on the road.

    Pricing (new): $22,883 for base 2023 model

    Pricing (used): From $12,000 and up

    Subaru Impreza

    The Subaru Impreza is a reliable and versatile sedan that’s available with all-wheel drive – perfect for students who need to navigate through snowy or rainy conditions. With advanced safety features such as adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking, the Impreza is a safe and reliable choice for any student.

    But that’s not all – the Impreza also boasts a spacious interior with plenty of legroom and cargo space, making it a great choice for road trips or weekend getaways. And with its all-wheel drive capabilities, you can explore new destinations with confidence.

    Pricing (new): $23,295 for base 2023 model

    Pricing (used): From $16,000 and up

    So there you have it – the top 5 sedans for students. Whether you’re looking for value, style, or safety, these sedans have it all. So why wait? Head to your local dealership today and test drive one of these great cars!

    Tips for Buying a Car as a Student

    Buying a car as a student can be an exciting and daunting experience. It’s a big financial decision that requires careful consideration. Here are some additional tips to help you make the best choice:

    Buying a new car or used car?

    Used cars are generally more affordable than new ones, and you’ll find that you can save on insurance and registration fees with a pre-owned vehicle. In addition, used cars have already gone through the initial depreciation period, meaning you’ll be getting more value for your money. For those on a tighter budget, a used car might be the ideal choice to save some loonies and toonies.

    When it comes to reliability, we all know how crucial it is to have a dependable vehicle, especially during those harsh Canadian winters. New cars typically come with warranties, which can provide peace of mind. However, many used cars are still quite reliable, and some even have warranties remaining. If you’re leaning towards a used car, be sure to have a trusted mechanic inspect it to ensure it’s in good condition, and you’ll be ready to face even the snowiest of days.

    Car financing options for students

    When it comes to financing a car, there are many options available to students. You can choose to buy a car outright, finance it through a bank or credit union, or lease a car. Each option has its pros and cons, so it’s important to do your research and choose the one that best fits your needs and budget. If you prefer to buy the car debt-free, you can start saving up by doing a part-time/contract job or choosing from a wide range of potential side hustles.

    If you decide to finance a car, be sure to shop around for the best car loan. You can also consider getting a co-signer, such as a parent or guardian, to help you secure a better loan.

    Car Insurance for students

    Car insurance is a must-have when you own a car, but it can be expensive for students. Therefore, it is generally best practice to shop around for the best rates before selecting a policy. While policies differ in price based on coverage, driver experience, history of claims, etc., Ontario students generally tend to pay the highest insurance in Canada with New Brunswick students on the other end. 

    When choosing a car, keep in mind that the type of car you drive can also affect your insurance rates. Sports cars and luxury vehicles often come with higher insurance premiums, while more practical and affordable cars may be more budget-friendly.

    Test driving and inspection

    Test driving a car is an important step in the car-buying process. It allows you to get a feel for how the car handles and whether it’s a good fit for you. When test driving a car, be sure to take it on a variety of roads and in different driving conditions to get a comprehensive sense of how it performs.

    Before making a purchase, it’s also important to have the car inspected by a trusted mechanic. They can check for any hidden issues or potential problems that may not be immediately apparent during a test drive. This can save you money and headaches down the road.

    Negotiating the best deal

    Negotiating the price of a car can be intimidating, but it’s an important step in getting the best deal. Before entering negotiations, do your research to determine the fair market value of the car you’re interested in. You can use online resources such as Kelley Blue Book to get an idea of what you should be paying.

    When negotiating, be firm but polite. Don’t be afraid to walk away if the seller isn’t willing to meet your price. There are always other cars and other sellers out there.

    By following these tips and doing your research, you can make a smart and informed decision when buying a car as a student.

    Maintaining Your Car on a Student Budget

    As a student, it’s important to keep your car in good condition to avoid unexpected breakdowns and costly repairs. However, maintaining a car can be expensive, especially on a tight budget. Here are some tips to help you keep your car running smoothly without breaking the bank.

    DIY maintenance tips

    There are several routine maintenance tasks you can do yourself to save money. For example, changing your car’s oil regularly is crucial to keep the engine running smoothly. You can find step-by-step instructions on YouTube videos and online forums. Similarly, rotating your tires every 5,000 miles can help extend their lifespan and save you money in the long run. Also, replacing air filters is another routine task that can be done easily and inexpensively.

    Finding affordable parts and services

    When it comes to replacing parts or getting your car serviced, it’s essential to shop around to find the best prices. Don’t be afraid to negotiate with your local mechanic or dealership. You can also consider buying OEM or aftermarket parts online to save money. However, be sure to do your research and ensure that the parts you are buying are compatible with your car’s make and model.

    Maximizing fuel efficiency

    One of the biggest expenses of owning a car is fuel costs. However, there are several ways to maximize your car’s fuel efficiency and save money. First, drive sensibly by avoiding rapid acceleration and heavy braking. Second, keep your tires properly inflated, as underinflated tires can decrease fuel efficiency. Third, reduce unnecessary weight in your car, such as heavy bags or equipment, as this can also decrease fuel efficiency.

    Planning for future expenses

    Vehicle maintenance costs can add up quickly, so it’s essential to plan for unexpected expenses. Consider setting up a savings account specifically for car repairs or setting aside a portion of your budget each month for this purpose. Additionally, it’s a good idea to keep track of your car’s maintenance schedule and budget accordingly for upcoming services.

    FAQs about Students’ Cars in Canada

    Can I use my student loans to buy a car in Canada?

    It is possible to use your student loans to buy a car in Canada, but it might not be the best idea. Student loans are meant to cover the costs of tuition, textbooks, and living expenses while you’re studying. Using the money to buy a car means that you’ll have to pay interest on that loan, which can add up quickly over time. Plus, once you graduate, you’ll have to start paying back your loans, which can be challenging if you’ve already accumulated more debt. If you really need a car while you’re in school, consider buying a used one that’s within your budget, or explore alternative financing options like a car loan or line of credit.

    How to save up for a car as a student?

    Firstly, set a savings goal and make a budget that prioritizes your car fund. Consider cutting down on non-essential expenses, like eating out or subscription services, and redirecting those savings towards your car fund. Consider a part-time job or side hustle to supplement your income and speed up the savings process. Look into scholarships, grants, or bursaries that could cover some or all of your car costs. Finally, consider purchasing a used car that’s within your budget to avoid taking on too much debt. By being strategic and diligent, you can save up for a car as a student without sacrificing your financial wellbeing.

    Is car insurance cheaper for students in Canada?

    Although some insurance companies offer student discounts, car insurance for students tends to be expensive in Canada. Most drivers classified as students are aged 25 or below, and auto insurance companies consider this demographic to still be inexperienced drivers who are familiarizing themselves with the rules of the road and vehicle operation. The added risk that they represent to the insurer therefore makes car insurance more expensive for students.

    Do student loans count as income for a car loan?

    Generally, student loans do not count as income for a car loan, as they are considered debt that must be repaid. Lenders will typically look at your income from employment or other sources, as well as your credit history and debt-to-income ratio, when determining your eligibility for a car loan. However, having a student loan may impact your ability to qualify for a car loan or affect the interest rate you’re offered. It’s important to carefully consider your financial situation and shop around for the best car loan options before making a decision.

    Share with FacebookShare with FacebookShare with TwitterShare with TwitterShare with Twitter
    Arthur Dubois is a personal finance writer at Hardbacon. Since relocating to Canada, he has successfully built his credit score from scratch and begun investing in the stock market. In addition to his work at Hardbacon, Arthur has contributed to Metro newspaper and several other publications