Autotrader tapped the 2015 Buick Encore at the top choice for new graduates.

Graduation season is here! For many college graduates that means big parties, envelopes stuffed with congratulatory cash and the start of their lives.

Some of that cash may be used for an immediate need: a new car! However, there are many choices and what is best for one graduate may not work for another. Fortunately, Autotrader has compiled a list of possibilities.

“Any time someone goes through a major life change, such as graduating college, they need to determine if their current ride makes sense for their lifestyle, from both a financial and functional perspective,” said Brian Moody, site editor for Autotrader.

“For example, while that hand-me-down SUV from your parents was nice when you turned 16, you may want to opt for a safer, more fuel-efficient car as you transition into the working world.”

The 2015 Chevrolet Trax, a cousin of the Buick Encore, also made the list of best new car choices for the newly graduated.

Autotrader’s picks for best cars for recent graduates include models that are not only affordable and fuel efficient, but also have desirable technology features and stylistic appeal.

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The 2015 Buick Encore topped the list. Effectively straddling the line between hatchback and crossover, the Encore provides plenty of flexibility whether transporting other graduates to events around town or moving into that post-graduation apartment. Additionally, the editors lauded its “sleek exterior styling” as well as its standard turbo-charged four-cylinder engine that gets 33 mpg on the highway.

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The rest of the list, which isn’t just new cars, includes:

  • 2015 Chevrolet Trax
  • 2015 Honda Fit
  • 2015 Nissan Versa Note
  • 2015 Mazda3
  • 2015 Jeep Renegade
  • 2015 Fiat 500
  • Toyota Camry (certified pre-owned)
  • Ford Fusion (certified pre-owned)
  • Lexus IS (certified pre-owned)

While some will have to buy their own new car, if the parents of the newly minted grad are cutting the check for a new car as a gift, Moody advises parents to be cautious when shopping for a car for someone else.

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“Make sure you’re buying your son or daughter the car they really need and want, not just the one with the best fuel economy or the safety features you desire,” said Moody. “Rather than surprising them with the gift, let them test drive a variety of models so they can determine their must-haves, which may be different from yours.”

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