For many of us, August means it's time to head back to school. Knowing that, Kelley Blue Book compiled a list of the top ten "back to school" cars, recommending five new and five used cars to college and high school students across the country. The site's editors chose the cars based on a variety of categories designed to appeal to parents and students alike.

In choosing the best back-to-school new cars, Kelley Blue Book examined all 2011 and 2012 models under $18,000. To determine which cars fell into its price range, KBB used its Fair Purchase Price metric, which uses actual transactions and market conditions to examine prices consumers pay for cars. The site's editors evaluated cars based on safety, affordability, versatility, reliability, cost of ownership and the subjective - but important - "fun-to-drive" and "good-looking" criteria.

The site gave fifth place to the Chevrolet Cruze, while the Fiat 500 took home fourth, the Ford Focus got third and the Honda Fit came in second. Leading the pack among new cars was the 2012 Hyundai Accent, which KBB praised as appealing "to a finely-tuned sense of value." KBB also described the sedan as highly-equipped, roomy and stylish.

Among used cars, KBB concentrated on models available for $12,000 or less using its suggested retail value pricing. Fifth place went to the 2007 Nissan Sentra, while the 2007 Ford F-150, 2007 Kia Sedona and 2008 Chevrolet HHR took fourth, third and second respectively. Top honors went to the 2007 Suzuki SX4, which KBB called "a smart choice for anyone who doesn't have a lot of money to burn but needs something that can take on the cruelest of winters." KBB also touted the compact SX4's no-deductible, seven-year/100,000-mile warranty. But KBB noted that picking its winners was no easy task.

"Each year we have more great choices to consider for our top back-to-school rides list, because auto manufacturers continue to outdo themselves with the features and amenities they offer on vehicles that are optimal for students," said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book's

author photo

Jeffrey Archer is fortunate to have turned a passion for cars into a career. His wide-ranging automotive experience includes work for automakers and dealers in addition to covering the news. When not writing, he spends his time searching for unique cars on

Explore the Hyundai Accent in Autotrader's New Car Experience (Beta)

Related Articles & Car Reviews

Find Cars for sale near you:

Research by Vehicle Type

  • Commercial
  • Convertible
  • Coupe
  • Hatchback
  • Hybrid
  • Luxury
  • Sedan
  • SUV
  • Truck
  • Van/Minivan
  • Wagon

For Sale on Autotrader

Please enter your ZIP to see prices and listings near you.