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It’s a well-known fact that in most cases, an SUV makes a great vehicle choice for college students. Their comfort and safety, as well as extra storage and seating space, make them ideal for moving in and out of dormitories, taking road trips, and carpooling with friends.

However, choosing the right model can be tricky. While most SUVs deliver in many of the categories listed above, there isn’t a single platform that checks every box. So, if you are in the market for an SUV, but don’t want a lumbering land beast, then a Crossover Utility Vehicle (CUV) or a small pickup truck might be just what the doctor ordered.

Nowadays, there are tons of CUV options out there, and a few choice “mini trucks” platforms to choose from, many of which are perfectly suited for college students. But before you buy or lease one of these vehicles, you’ll first need to focus on a few key aspects.

Top 3 influences in choosing a CUV or small pickup

No one should enter the car search without some clear ideas on why they are choosing a new vehicle and what they need out of it on a daily basis. Here are three criteria that should help you narrow down that search straight from the start.


Any form of automotive research should start with a ballpark figure pertaining to what you are willing to spend. Then, factor in insurance, registration fees, and any additional aftermarket additions like roof carriers, all-terrain tires, window tinting, ceramic coating, etc. into your budget. This should also include monthly gas expenses, maintenance requirements, and things like on-campus school parking fees. This is why so many parents get their kids a gently used model, as it often helps offset all of those additional expenses.

Personal needs

What other features and traits do you look for in a vehicle? Will you travel off-road on occasion? Will there be road trips with friends in the cards? What about tech and semi-autonomous highway driving? Bringing the dog with you and needing rear cargo tie-downs? These and many other considerations must be weighed in order to get a CUV or pickup that best meets your needs.

Comfort & safety

Students (or parents) will want to look into extra vehicle safety features as well. Different automakers have their own unique driving experiences and safety suites, and you want to feel at ease in your car. So, look into the different safety features and comfort package options of each model, with things like parking assistance technology being a top consideration.

Top CUV and small truck options for college kids

2023 Subaru Outback

The most recent Subaru Outback is a prime example of a well-done, contemporary CUV. It is a highly reliable, practical vehicle with modern safety features, technology, and a comfortable ride. In addition, the Outback comes with Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheel drive system, so off-road adventures and inclement weather are no longer much of a concern.

Sure, it’s not the cheapest option out there, but you can find newer used versions for about half the price with a bit of hunting. In fact, higher-end models of the Outback have outstanding resale values. So if that 2023 Subaru Outback continues to serve you well long after college, and you take care of it, chances are you will be able to sell it off someday for a solid price.

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

For decades, the Toyota RAV4 has been a top choice for countless college students. The latest and greatest version combines stylish looks with clever interior storage designs, impressive fuel efficiency ratings, and every imaginable safety feature of the modern age. A CUV built for packing up all your gear, gathering a few close friends, and heading out for a week-long camping adventure. While all-wheel drive will keep you securely on the trail or tarmac, it is the 4×4-focused “Adventure Grade” RAV4 package that packs all of the best outdoor upgrade options.

While newer models do fetch a premium asking price, the hybrid model’s modest gas mileage and generous insurance offers will balance some of these initial expenses. This should help save enough money for that essay pro service that’s making your upcoming road trip possible.

2023 Ford Maverick

Budget-friendly when compared to its larger F-150 brethren, the 2023 Ford Maverick makes for an ideal pint-sized pickup truck. For college kids who value practicality and safety over hardcore Raptor 4×4 chops and diesel towing capacity, this comfortable, surprisingly spacious five-seater truck checks a lot of boxes.

The vehicle’s size is also an advantage, as it offers immense storage space and the parking profile of a CUV. This makes it perfect for packed campus parking lots and unexplored routes in the wilderness.

For those looking for something more powerful, the Maverick can be had with a turbocharged engine upgrade. That said, most people find the base version to be more than peppy enough for city driving and occasional road trip adventures.

2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz

Finally, there is the other big player in the modern mini truck market, and that is the all-new Hyundai Santa Cruz. While the base version comes in at a very attractive starting price and packs many of the amenities that a student needs for a safe, comfortable daily driver, there’s way more to this pickup than all that jazz.

From a practicality standpoint, the Santa Cruz packs impressive cargo capacity figures, five seats, and an available all-wheel drive feature. With its crossover-inspired design, it’s also quite sleek-looking and stylish. All told, this makes it a great compromise between an urban car and a vehicle intended for the outdoors. Just don’t forget to place an order at www.writingpapersucks.com before you turn on exploration mode. For without a reliable writing service taking care of those academic assignments in your absence, that off-road test will result in some unpleasant surprises upon your return.  

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