You would never dream of arriving on campus without a laptop, an appetite for ramen noodles and your best can-do attitude, so why did you think driving that bucket of bolts was a good idea? Time to hit the (virtual) books and bone up on the must-have car tech. It's the stuff that will make navigating new roads a cinch for you newly minted adults who are shopping for a vehicle.

First up, a sturdy navigation system is an absolute must. The trek to college should be filled with memory-making chats with the fam, not fumbling with outdated maps. And while you can fire up directions using your smartphone or a portable GPS unit, plunking down dough on an in-dash system might offer some serious peace of mind. These devices run between $300 and $1,900, and offer such features as touchscreen interfaces, hands-free calling, MP3 player compatibility and turn-by-turn directions (for locating the nearest late-night pizza joint, of course). In-dash units ensure you won't be draining your mobile phone battery -- a major plus when newbie students are just getting their bearings as wide-eyed freshmen.

Next thing on your list should be a decent Bluetooth car stereo system. Anything wired is so, so over. Bluetooth is an uber-popular car tech that makes road trips sweeter and jaunts to internships downright invigorating. Plus, hands-free calling is much safer than messing around with a headset. You'll need one that pairs simply with your smartphone and offers solid sound quality. A stand-alone unit sets you back anywhere from $150 to $500, and has such features as buttonless interfaces and clutter-free designs.

To give you all-night crammers a leg up in the safety category, backup sensors and cameras are your new best friend. The technology made a big splash a couple of years ago, and many 2013 and 2014 models come standard with these helpful sets of eyes. If you'd prefer buying a separate unit, it'll run you about $300.

iPod enthusiasts will undoubtedly be clamoring for a car stereo that works seamlessly with their little Apple bestie, so a system with full-speed iPod connection that's user-friendly is a must. These devices will set you back anywhere from about $330 to $1,900.

So now you know that getting outfitted for college isn't just about nabbing the most souped-up computer and throwing down cash on fancy dorm room digs. It's also about investing in the best car tech to make your college years one smooth ride.

author photo

Lindsay Martell has covered entertainment news for E! Entertainment and tech trends for TechTV, CNBC, Newsfactor, and Sci-Tech Today, among others. She lives in Oakland, California.

Related Articles & Car Reviews

Find Cars for sale near you:

Research by Vehicle Type

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

Shopping Tools

Loading Ajax Content Loading Ajax Content