Looking for a car?

This can be found in Thursday’s edition of the Eastern Echo, or here on their website.

Finding the right used car can be difficult. Do you go for a GDI or TDI? Direct-injection or port-injection? Turbocharged or supercharged?

Does knowing the difference even matter? For some the differences matter greatly, but when money is hard to find, choices are limited.

What follows is a listing of five basic majors and the cars that could best fit those looking for a new ride.

Business Major

Business is a sophisticated, fast-paced, ever-changing, ever-evolving field of buying and selling and stocks and bonds. And in a sophisticated business one needs a sophisticated ride.

Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati are just a few that come to mind, but those are unruly, not sophisticated. Even those are unattainable for some of the one percent and only a dream for the aspiring college business student.
But there is something to squeeze into the tight budget of a student. The right Mercedes-Benz can mix flashy and sophisticated fit for a night out or the morning meeting.

The Benz oozing luxury is the S-class, the company’s flagship people hauler.

This model has been fitted for dignitaries and dictators, and older models from the early 2000s can be had for less than $15,000.

That sort of cash grabs you a lot of luxury for the model year, including your choice of engines, ranging from six to twelve cylinders. Like any Mercedes, it does not lack safety. Eight airbags are available with some models along with crash avoidance technology.

Comfort is bred into the Mercedes name in the form of 14-way powered seats, rear-window sunshade, auto-closing doors and a slew of technology finally making it into more mainstream vehicles today, like auto-dimming rear- and side-view mirrors.

Science Major

For the eco-friendly student, you might be biased to hypermiling in a Toyota Prius, saving the environment one recycled grocery bag at the time.

But for those who like a little difference to their lives, look toward a mid-2000s Volkswagen Jetta TDI – yes, a diesel, which can be found for under $15,000.

As stigmatized as diesel engines are – dirty, disorderly and disturbingly loud – they are very fuel-efficient in the right application, going mostly unnoticed in standard passenger cars thanks to many advancements in diesel technology.

Pick up a Jetta TDI with a manual transmission and squeezing 40-plus miles-per-gallon highway is achievable. The Environmental Protection Agency rated a 2004 Volkswagen Jetta TDI with a five-speed manual transmission at 32 mpg city and 42 highway.

A 2004 Toyota Prius is rated at 48 mpg city and 45 mpg highway, for comparison.

The Prius is significantly better than the Jetta in the fuel economy category, but lacks in categories like looks, comfort, fun and styling.

The Jetta TDI brings with it a special, almost hipster-like presence.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration awarded the early 2000 Jettas with five out of five stars for frontal impact collisions and four out of five for side impact collisions. Side-impact airbags became standard in the 2001 model year.

Health Major

Ah, the life savers – the ones working Christmas, New Years and even Canadian Boxing Day – yearn for practicality and utility. No inclement weather or apocalyptic firestorm will stop them from tending to their patients.

An SUV is too large and cumbersome to weave in and out of traffic when dashing to an emergency, but a compact SUV slithers quite peacefully between Crown Vics and Chevrolet Malibus.

The compact SUV segment includes vehicles like the Ford Escape, Toyota Rav4 and Honda CR-V. A usually forgotten competitor from this segment is the Kia Sportage, mainly due to the Korean automaker’s obscurity in the mainstream market at the time.

What makes the Sportage unique is it is right on the beginning cusp of Kia/Hyundai’s surge to stardom and high-reliability, and hence offers a solid purchase for a bargain price, usually for less than $10,000.

Models are offered with front-wheel-drive and optional 4×4. Four- and six-cylinder engine with both automatic and manual transmissions are available.

Row your own gears with a manual transmission for better fuel economy and transmission longevity.

English Major

As it stands, English majors are probably not basking in the financial glory of the one percent like Stephen King or J.K. Rowling. Money is hard to come by like a misplaced modifier. Four tires are semi-required.

Honda makes a little runner called the Civic. Buy it. One with low miles can be had for less than $7,000 and can come in either coupe or sedan, depending on whether you like it sporty or sedated. Options are sparse, but it means there are less things that could go wrong and rack up wallet-damaging repair bills.

Try to avoid Civics that have had modifications like intake and exhaust systems.

These cars are usually driven hard and poorly maintained. A well taken care of Honda holds not only value, but a strong reliability record as well. There is a reason Honda is considered one of the most reliable automakers year after year.

Art Major

Pulling art projects out of the back seat of a Mustang and expecting it to be in a presentable condition is delusional. Kids have a difficult time fitting in the back seat of coupe and art will just get twisted into a sad piece of origami.

An art major can’t buy an SUV; it is expensive and even more so on gas. A truck is the same.

The best option is a wagon, like a “Harry and The Hendersons” kind of station wagon. But there is hope, not all wagons feature fake wood paneling on the side.

Look at a late 1990s or early 2000s Volvo V90 also known as a Volvo 960, in wagon-form. It is practical, reliable and Volvo practically invented what automotive safety is today.

Even though many have high miles – usually over 100,000 – they are tanks of reliability and can be found for less than $5,000. Its unusual boxy design offers maximum cargo capacity for the most unique art projects.

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