Best Car Deals for Recent Grads

CarGurus Research Highlights Safe Used Cars That Fit Starter-Salary Budgets

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., May 6, 2011 -- For new graduates hoping to drive away from commencement in a car of their own, finding dream wheels on a starter-salary budget can be a challenge. To help them, auto research and shopping site ( today released its picks for the best used car deals for grads, offering young buyers (and their parents) suggestions and price guidance on safe, fuel-efficient used cars that are available in this spring’s marketplace for less than $20K. On the list: the 2006 Volkswagen Jetta, the 2006 Volkswagen Passat, the 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer, the 2009 Ford Fusion, the 2008 Scion xB, the 2008 Honda Accord and the 2007 Ford Edge.

To arrive at its list, CarGurus reviewed millions of used vehicle listings for sale at dealers around the U.S. as of May 1, 2011, targeting cars less than six years old and typically available for less than $20K. The list was further limited to cars that received the highest safety ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety ( for that model year. Pickup trucks, SUVs and convertibles were excluded. In addition, CarGurus considered fuel economy, limiting picks to cars that would allow grads to cap their weekly gas expenses at $40, assuming $4/gallon and 200 combined miles driven per week. Finally, CarGurus assessed its listings database of 2+ million cars, including only cars showing ample inventory.

The following chart highlights CarGurus’ picks for the best used car deals for grads this Spring. The CarGurus’ Instant Market Value (IMV) price below is based on a mathematical analysis of current and historic listings for comparable cars with mileage that is typical (about average) for the listings studied. While this IMV provides guidance as to each car's value, grads shopping for a car should use CarGurus’ free DealFinder shopping tool to search for the best deals from dealers in their local areas. For any car searched, DealFinder provides a ranked view on “great deals” that offer savings off the Instant Market Value.

Year/Vehicle/Trim DealFinder Instant Market Value for a car with average mileage Average mileage for DealFinder listings IHS Safety Ratings[1] MPG (city/highway)
2006 Volkswagen Jetta
Value Edition
$11,300 59,200 Top Safety Pick 2006 22/29
2006 Volkswagen Passat
Value Edition
$12,800 60,800 Top Safety Pick 2006 21/29
2009 Mitsubishi Lancer DE $12,900 31,100 Top Safety Pick 2009
for models with
electronic stability control (ESC)
2008 Scion xB Base $14,000 44,500 Top Safety Pick 2008 22/28
2009 Ford Fusion S $14,100 44,300 Top Safety Pick 2009
for models with optional ESC
2008 Honda Accord LX $16,700 34,900 Top Safety Pick 2008
for 4-door models
2007 Ford Edge SE $17,400 51,300 Top Safety Pick 2007 18/25

[1] More information can be found at the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety’s website at

"In this tight spring car market, finding a great deal in the lower price ranges might seem like a tall order, but our research points to several well-priced cars that deliver on important criteria like safety and fuel efficiency," said Langley Steinert, founder and CEO of CarGurus. "The key is search, don’t settle. Young buyers that put their web savvy to work for them when shopping for a car will be at an advantage. Free online tools like our DealFinder can help shoppers get informed about prices and narrow their search to find the best deals in a local area."

CarGurus’ Tips for Shopping for a Used Car Online

  • Price Shop. The Web brings transparency to used car pricing; use it to your advantage so you do not overpay for a vehicle. Find comparable local car listings from multiple dealers, and bring those listings to the dealers with whom you are negotiating. Having more information will give you more leverage.
  • Know Your Options. Many online pricing tools for used cars do not account for options, which can significantly impact the price of a car. A car that looks like a great deal on your screen might in fact lack some of the features you care about most. Likewise, some options can drive the price up and out of your budget. Get familiar with the options that were available for the car year you’re considering, and decide which if any you absolutely have to have.
  • Wait for the Price to Drop. Most used cars that have been on the market for more than 30 days have at least one price drop. The market is tightening this Spring, but there’s still a good chance you can wait out a better deal. CarGurus’ DealFinder allows you to track a car’s price history and time on market, and you can sign up for email alerts that will let you know when prices drop.

About CarGurus' DealFinder

CarGurus’ free DealFinder ( shopping tool offers consumers a transparent online car shopping experience, giving them instant guidance on the best deals in their local area. Shoppers plug in their zip code and desired car and get an instant view of available vehicles, ranked from great deals to listings that are overpriced. For each listing, DealFinder also provides a detailed price history, so consumers can see how long a car has been on the market as well as any price drops it has had – information that can be used during a negotiation.

DealFinder rankings are based on a mathematical analysis that factors in the prices of millions of current and recently sold comparable listings to determine a car’s Instant Market Value and how each listing compares to the current market. Unlike many other listings sites, the search results are unbiased by listings providers.

About CarGurus LLC

Located in Harvard Square, Cambridge MA, CarGurus LLC is an online automotive community founded by Langley Steinert, formerly Chairman and co-founder TripAdvisor LLC. CarGurus' founders, board, and investors bring a wealth of experience from such leading web companies as TripAdvisor, eBay, Expedia, and Yahoo. For more information about CarGurus visit us at

Amy Mueller