Fifth-best back-to-school car: 2013 Honda Civic
gave its flagship Civic an unusually extensive update for 2013 after critics and consumers panned a 2012 complete redesign, and Allan says young drivers will love the revamped model's added technology.
For instance, the 2013 Civic comes standard with
radio and voice-activated text messaging, which many rivals offer only as options.
The base Civic coupe also comes standard with manual transmission and a 140-horsepower four-cylinder engine that combine to produce a good 28 mpg/city and 36 mpg/highway (optional automatic transmission adds 3 mpg to highway mileage).
There's also a $19,745 Civic HF sedan that gets 29 mpg/city and 41 mpg/highway and a $24,360 Hybrid Civic sedan that offers 44 mpg/city and 44 mpg/highway.
Whichever version you choose, Allan says the Civic's long-standing reputation for reliability will serve any college kid well. "The last thing you want to deal with when you're away to school is car trouble," he says.