“I think she likes the Honda Fit,” my sister said to me over the phone last week. “But, it had a 4 out of 5 on rollover, so I’m not sure that’s the right car. We will test drive more this week.”
Her daughter has to drive a couple of hours to get to her college campus. Mom wants to make sure those four hours on the road, understandably, are as safe as possible.
As kids go back to or begin college, the car getting them there is very important. Not just for the kid driving, but for the parents’ peace of mind.
My sister can’t be the only person going through this dilemma so I thought I’d do a deep dive into the best vehicles for sending them off safe and sound. Hopefully, once they are there, their brains will soak up all that learning and their car will be the least of their worries.
Putting safety at the top of the list, I found the top five cars that should make any college-bound driver happy. These are all on the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
2019 Kia Forte
The Kia Forte ranked No. 1 in compact cars and its technology includes an 8-inch rear view monitor for parking, Android Auto and Apple Car Play friendly. Safety features such as lane assist and collision warning is standard. It comes with a 10-year, 10,000 mile limited warranty for all those back-and-forth trips home to do laundry every other weekend.
- Base price: $17,790
- 31/city, 41/highway
2019 Subaru WRX
Pricier than a Kia, but you can’t beat the handling and performance, plus symmetrical all-wheel drive comes standard. Touting a “uniform stability” to deliver maximum traction, it can take any kind of inclement weather and terrain. It’s considered a sports car and though it has get up and go, the safety features are top notch. Technology features include Apple Car Play, Android Auto, Pandora integration and their Starlink Multimedia connects to just about everything, including several calls on the way home from Mom or Dad to check, “Are you almost here? Are you going the speed limit?” And, it’s roomy with a 60/40-split fold-down rear seatback and 12.0 cubic-foot trunk.
- Base price: $27, 195
- 27/city, 21/highway
The second Subaru on the list, but less expensive is the cool-looking, safe and roomy Crosstrek. With nearly 52 cubic feet and an all-wheel drive as standard, it’s a quiet, smooth ride with a high-strength steel body. This compact SUV is just the right size for the college-bound student and it has Harman Kardon Premium Audio that she or he will love. With Subaru’s Starlink Safety and Security technology, you’ll be assured of a safe and connected drive back to college. A Top Safety Pick of IIHS, Kelley Blue Book’s “Best Resale Value” award and the ALG’s “Residential Value” award, the Crosstrek will be in the family long after your kid graduates.
- Base price: $21,895
- 27/city, 33/highway
2019 Honda Insight
Receiving Kelley Blue Book’s “Best Overall Brand,” the 2019 “Green Car of the Year,” the Honda Insight is a hybrid is perfect for those college kids who are concerned with their carbon footprint. It comes with an 8-year battery warranty. The Insight comes in a range of colors, plus the LX, EX and Touring models have different bells and whistles depending upon budget. The Honda “Sensing” which comes standard includes collision mitigation and road mitigation systems. It is roomier than the Prius, with more horsepower and it has a remote engine start. If your child is a recent or soon-to-be college grad, Honda offers a $500 bonus toward any 2018 or new model.
- Base Price: $22,930
- 55/city, 49/highway
2019 Hyundai Tucson
Maybe your college girl or guy needs more space because she or he brings friends home. This roomy crossover will get them there and back, and if you need an all-wheel drive, you can add it for around $1,400. Hyundai’s “Smart Sense” includes forward collision avoidance, lane-keeping assist and blind spot collision warning. The 8-inch touch screen enables voice activation, apps and there’s a charging pad for cell phones. An available surround view monitor gives an expanded vision – 360-degree views – and the interior feels very high end.
- Base price: $21,000
- 23/city, 30/highway
Now, that you have a range of safe choices to get your next Einstein or Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist off to college, you can rest a little easier.
Be safe out there.