Now that college grads are finding a job, they'll also be finding a car to get them there.

4 new cars tailor-made for college grads

For the first time in their young lives, college graduates will be driving to work zones instead of school zones, toting briefcases in place of backpacks. Entering the working world can be a major transition, but one of tremendous excitement that’s filled with possibilities.

To get there, though, they’ll be needing a car – ideally a brand new one with this being a new phase of life. However, with many college grads knee-deep in debt – to the tune of $28,950 for 70% of seniors, according to estimates from the Institute for College Access & Success – few have the money for this kind of purchase.

Fortunately, there are a number of affordable automobiles that are budget friendly.

“The car that got you through your college years may not work for your new lifestyle, but the great news is that there are a lot of options on the market today,” explained Brian Moody, Executive Editor for AutoTrader. “All of the vehicles we picked for this list are fun, reliable and thoughtfully designed – perfect choices to fuel the next phase of your journey.”

Whether you’re a parent looking for a surprise graduation gift, or want to treat yourself now that you’ve graduated without spending a fortune – here are a few models worth your attention:

Mazda 3

Selling for a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $18,000, according to vehicle valuation firm Kelley Blue Book, the Mazda 3 is proof positive that you don’t have to sacrifice quality for affordability. Not only is the Mazda 3 on AutoTrader’s list of affordable automobiles for college grads, but it’s also maintained a spot atop KBB.com’s “Coolest New Cars” list since it debuted.

“Gorgeous and sporty outside as well as inside, the Mazda3 backs it all up with fun-focused driving dynamics with praiseworthy fuel efficiency,” said Jack Nerad, Executive Director and Executive Market Analyst for Kelley Blue Book.

Honda Civic

The Civic, a subcompact vehicle that Honda introduced in 1972, is a staple both of roadway longevity and star achievement, awarded 4.5 out of 5 stars by Car and Driver and 9.2 out of 10 by US News and World Report’s “Best Cars” of 2016. This year’s Civic gets the green light from both AutoTrader and Kelley Blue Book, thanks to its rock-bottom price of $18,640 and superior mileage, getting at least 30 miles per gallon on the highway.

Kia Soul

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame legend Billy Joel will be found throughout the country this summer singing “It’s All About Soul,” featured on his hit 1992 album River of Dreams. Seventeen years later, the automotive version of soul came onto the scene with Kia’s release of the Soul compact crossover SUV. With an MSRP of $15,900 and 31 mpg on the highway, the sleek and sophisticated 2016 version is like chicken soup for the soul. The experts at Kelley Blue Book and AutoTrader give it their respective stamps of approval.

Fiat 500

Though short in height and slim in width, the Fiat 500 makes up for it in savings and substance. For starters, the subcompact gets an impressive 31 mpg in the city and 40 on the highway. Additionally, beneath the hood sits a 101 horsepower 4-cylinder, 1.4 liter engine, yielding a power and forcefulness that belies its slight frame. The only things slighter is its price at a starting MSRP of $16,995. And yes, both KBB.com and AutoTrader say it meets the necessary chic and cheap qualifications, only AutoTrader suggests the more souped-up 500X. Its starting MSRP is $20,000.

One of these new automobiles can get you or your graduate on the road of life in style and on a budget.