First car after graduation?


About to start IB in a city where I will need a car to drive to and from the office. What car can I afford with a first year salary / what's practical?

Comments (92)

Aug 3, 2020 - 11:03am

Came here to say this. Get a 2013 or 2017 Honda Accord (two of the best years) with low mileage and expect the value to hold extremely well, dependent on how many miles you put on it. However I really like cars so I always buy the most fun car I can afford, but I can tell you firsthand this isn't a smart or practical play.

Aug 3, 2020 - 11:29am

Don't drive a Honda c'mon. You can get a 3 year old C300/3 Series/A4 for the same price as an Civic and it comes with great warranty. Just make sure to buy certified pre-owned. These cars are still considered "new" and are in good condition with <30K mileages.

Most Helpful
Aug 3, 2020 - 5:11pm

@Tobin4TW" These are all horrendous cars. The only people who drive these are badge followers who want to say they own Mercedes/BMW/Audi. They are the more or less the lowest caliber car each brand makes. If you removed the logo and added a VW or Honda badge no one could tell the difference (exception being the C300, which is still a terrible car). This is without a doubt the worst advice I've ever heard. You are paying premium costs for insurance /gas/repairs yet your car could not be more stock. Just so you know, these cars are hardly "luxurious" and are as far from the fast end of the fast / slow spectrum as a Jetta. I believe all three have inline 4 engines too, so your Honda Accord could outrun one or at least keep pace, especially with the v6 option. OP PLEASE don't be the guy who gets a C300 right out of school so he can say he drives a Mercedes. IF you want to go this route, lmk and I can provide options for budget luxury cars that aren't absolute garbage.

Edit I: If you're throwing MS I am going to assume it is because you are mad I don't like your 2018 A4 or haven't read my response below outlining budget luxury cars that meet the objective good car criteria*

Edit II: as DawgStreet mentioned below, there are some awesome exceptions (mainly being the E90, E92, and some C350s). Broadly speaking though, most 3 series/A4s/C classes are not performance cars so it is not worth the extra costs associated with buying German cars.

Edit III: I wrote this sleep deprived, I want to rephrase my advice. @Tobin4TW" did not recommend objectively bad cars, but my primary point is that these vehicles are not the best in terms of practicality. OP is coming out college and as a recent graduate myself, I was always strapped for cash. You have so many expenses at that age and also should be trying to save if you can so I think that these base level luxury cars are not worth the additional expenses (100-150 a month in insurance, plus parking, plus premium gas, plus occasional repairs hits your budget hard if you are working on 60-90k pre bonus). If you are more senior and making more, then these are all fine investments if you are looking for a luxury car without breaking the bank. But I made the assumption that if you want German manufacturing, you want performance, and the reality is most people don't. With that said, if you don't care about performance there are a lot of other cars that are more inexpensive to maintain and today every new model comes jam packed with tech and has options for luxury seating. If you've ever sat in a 2020 Kia (I despise Kias), even that was indistinguishable from an 2019 Audi from a comfort perspective. Everyone has their own preference, and my personal stance is don't buy a 0-3 year old German car because it doesn't hold value, can be expensive to maintain, and doesn't provide the performance to make it worthwhile. I think most will agree that is an objectively bad investment for someone fresh out of college. Please keep in mind my entire response was tailored around OP, who solely mentioned practicality in his criteria.

Aug 3, 2020 - 7:30pm

I'd agree if those cars were bought new, also can't speak much about the 3-series or 4. But you can pick a 3-year old C300 for less than 22K. Ask any college/HS grad if they'd rather have a stock Camry or a well-optioned C300 for the same price, which one do you think they'd prefer? Have you been inside the newly designed C300? It's not cheap at all. A Jetta is 160hp I believe while the C300 is 250+hp, hardly the same. If you want to buy a new V6 Accord that's gonna cost 10K more than a used C300.

I'm curious what luxury car recommendations you have though. Also I can respect the fact that people who buy a car for the badge are tools (CLA drivers ahem.), but I legitimately think a used C300 is a great value. Feel free to downvote me, but just stating my opinion based off of my ownership experiences.

Aug 4, 2020 - 12:36pm

Absolutely spot on. No bigger waste of money than paying up for entry level auto brands.

The brand used to matter more, but at some point all of them decided to juice revenue in the short run by selling downmarket, making the entry level cheaper etc. Works great for getting the CEO at the time paid, but the pain comes later (i.e. now) when brand exclusivity suffers. Why spend good money to have one of 20 A4's in the garage.

Aug 4, 2020 - 1:12pm

Why the hate towards the C-class/3 Series?

You can get an older generation like the W204 C350 or E90 335i pretty cheap nowadays and they make more than enough power with v6 engines (~300hp).

I would argue that they look/feel sportier than the mid-size E-class and 5 series. If you want more power and can afford it, you get the C63 AMG or M3.

Totally agree with getting older cars though. Personally have an e90 and wouldn’t trade it in for any of the newer ones.

Aug 3, 2020 - 11:58am

buy a CPO Mazda 3 hatchback, great commuter car and a lot more fun than anything comparable.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Aug 3, 2020 - 12:26pm

Get a certified pre-owned car like a BMW/Audi or get a Nissan. My current car is pre-owned but it’s been running fine for 7 years and I got it for super cheap.

  • Intern in AM - Equities
Aug 3, 2020 - 1:47pm

yea so u dont want to buy an expensive car and you don't want to buy a shitbox car

so my perfect car to get right after college would prob be a jeep cheverlot or any other jeep model...couldn't think of a more perfect car but than again I'm baised so good luck on whatever u choose

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Aug 3, 2020 - 2:05pm

which car do girls like?

Aug 3, 2020 - 4:57pm

The first question would be whether you want to buy or lease a car. Buying a good condition used car can be a nice investment, and interest rates are definitely quite favorable right now. Of course, you'd need to create a realistic budget (how much do you want to be paying per month to pay off the car?) and go from there. You can probably find a great condition used Honda/Toyota for 10-15k. You'd also have to figure out if you can get one with an extended warranty (not sure how that works tbh)

If you don't want to buy a car, then you can lease one. Car leases are typically 3 years and can be convenient in the sense that you're not tied down to a car forever (though if you buy a good used car, it probably wouldn't lose much value either if you wanted to sell it). If that's not an issue, then the same q - how much do you want to pay per month for a car? You can likely lease a brand new cheap car for ~$200/mo.

Also, when budgeting, don't forget about the cost of car insurance! (Unless you are on your families' insurance, but I think you'd have to be in the same state? Especially if you choose to buy)

Adulting is so fun!!! Woooo

Aug 3, 2020 - 6:28pm

Owned a 2004 Infiniti G35 when I just graduated. Two years later, I sold it last week to some pizza boy for $2k and bought myself a brand new manual Golf R after quitting and doubling my salary at a new job.

When you're just graduating, you don't really have the time or money to get something expensive or German. Besides, you're like 21 and insurance will cost a lot for you. Drive something humble for a year or two (an old Infiniti, Acura, Lexus), and once you get a good salary and job that isn't a sweatshop, treat yourself to something nice.

Cue all the hormonal university kids saying that he should spend $$$$ on a nice car after university and that X is better than a Golf R.

Speaking from experience by the way, girls really don't care if you drive a Toyota or a BMW. As long as you're a smooth and calm driver, and you keep your car clean, you'll get girls. Just make sure your backseat is spacious enough to smash and you've got tinted windows ;)

Aug 3, 2020 - 7:26pm

Honda buddy boy.

"Full speed ahead, damn the torpedoes." -U.S. Navy General Farragut
Aug 3, 2020 - 8:03pm

Hertz is required to liquidate 200k cars this year...there should be some great deals...look to buy a vehicle for under 20k that has space for activities (so, a midsize SUV seems best...think Ford Escape, Toyota Rav4 or something similar). If you'll be driving many miles, then look into a hybrid like a Prius. Think "practical". yo can get the Lambo when you are making 500k/year

Aug 4, 2020 - 1:18am

all I can say is that I love my parent's 2017 honda accord. Drives great, comfortable, reliable. Car & Driver said it drives better than a Mercedes E class which is $55k. I wouldn't get a corolla or even camry maybe. My grandma had a 2012 corolla and it just drove terribly. There's a reason people soup up Civics and not corollas.

Aug 4, 2020 - 4:17pm

New Mercedes CLA in Black.

Looks like an entry level S-Class

If you take it out on finance, you pay a few hundred a month, and then you can either upgrade the car for free after 4 years, or re-sell (and often at a profit, when it gets in equity)

Aug 5, 2020 - 10:40am


Hello, allow me to provide you with three reasons as to why this is objectively horrible advice.
1. Since you said the "new" CLA 250, I have to assume you are referring to the 2020 with a sticker price of $38,000. Keep in mind this is before any additional packages, and you will have a tough time negotiating the price on this car unless you wait until the 2021 is released. OP is buying his car for work, so he likely will need to make a purchase before the end of summer. Best case, he can shave 1-2k off the list price. So he is paying top dollar to purchase a car that will hold 50% of its value two years from now.
2. So OP, even if you financed the car with 1% interest (good luck obtaining that as a fresh college grad with no work history) and paid it down over 48 months, you would be paying $718 dollars per month to purchase a car that will be worth less than half of that once your financing payments end. Good luck literally saving any money during your first year, while you allocate a huge percentage of your paycheck to a car that will impress no one.
3. But wait, OP said you'll be driving a car that "looks like an entry level S-class!" Who will care? You won't have the performance or the luxury of an S class, any car enthusiast will hate your choice, and its not going to land you tons of girls. I have driven some pretty high end cars and some budget cars and can tell you firsthand the nicer your car may turn heads but there is no correlation between buying a nicer car and pulling more girls (maybe there are exceptions when you spent north of 200k+, but the point I am trying to make is a nice car should be bought because you want it). Especially in this case you should want it, because no one else is going to be impressed by the fact that you bought the cheapest vehicle Mercedes makes, and overpaid x3 for it.

So now you're broke all the time, your car enthusiast friends hate your car, you're not getting more girls, and you're stuck paying off a loan on a shitty car for the next 4 years. Don't forget when it comes time to sell it, you'll be lucky to get half what you paid for it. But its a Mercedes, at least its a performance car, right? Nope, your 221 hp inline four will get dusted by most other cars on the road. In summation, this is the most impractical, performance lacking, bank breaking car you could purchase.

  • Associate 2 in IB - Gen
Aug 4, 2020 - 8:29pm

just get a tesla model 3 and call it a day. it's cheap and electric

Aug 4, 2020 - 10:42pm

Pickup trucks tend to retain their value well, so if you can buy a relatively new f150, ram 1500, tacoma or Silverado that has 35,000 - 55,000 km at a good price you should scoop one up and be able to sell it back after a couple of years at a minor discount to the price you originally paid.

Aug 4, 2020 - 11:41pm

A Mustang GT or some other big V8 muscle car because they're cool and everyone knows that you're rich and famous

Aug 5, 2020 - 3:37am

i bought a pre-owned lexus and highly recommend it. depends on what you want, but performance, reliability, technology, and especially interior quality at a reasonable price point is lexus. It’s even better if you get one with f-sport trim and it’s even even better if you can ball out for an RCF, GSF, or ISF. My household is all lexus owners and I can’t speak highly enough. entry level benz/bmw/audi is a waste.

Aug 5, 2020 - 6:48am

We know no rational young male wants to be seen stepping out of something responsible like a Prius or Camry. I think there's a lot of ways for you to split this decision:

(1) are the roads bad? If yes you might want to look at a pre-owned mid-tier SUV like the Q5 or X3.

(2) do you have parking issues? If yes you might want to look at some pre-owned hot hatches like the A45, Focus ST, Golf GTI etc.

(3) do you need something that is sporty? 2016 M2's are on the market for 35-40k, 2015 RS5's are in the same range.

(4) are you looking to maintain a tolerable level of costs of ownership (fuel, servicing)? Probably look for a 2014-2017 IS250/IS300.

Personally owned an A4, an X5 and an X6, but never used them as much as you intend to, so your experience might end up being worse if you constantly daily drive the car. But these are my suggestions that I know I wouldn't be embarrassed to drive. Personally not one to drive hatches, but if I had nowhere to park then it's viable (in the UK especially so considering the insurance thing they have going there).

Aug 5, 2020 - 5:46pm

The X6 was ahead of its generation in cars - people either hated it or loved it, but it fully sparked a sub-genre of SUV on its own that is now one of the top in-demand car chassis types and has strict competition from the worlds best producers (BMW, Audi, Porsche, Lamborghini with Ferrari and Aston Martin looking to enter the market soon).

I personally enjoyed the X6 in design and driving experience, but the turbo lag was very tedious.

Edit: To the guy MS'ing with "Inaccurate" - there isn't a single thing in here that is inaccurate. The X6 entered the market as a monopoly then it received competition from the GLE Coupe and then the Q8.

  • Prospect in Other
Aug 5, 2020 - 4:35pm

Wondering if the same stigma exists for girls? Do people care if a girl drives a Prius versus a Jeep??

Aug 5, 2020 - 5:52pm

Not really, no. If anything, her driving a Jeep signals to men that she is successful on her own or comes from wealth, meaning money most likely won't be the thing that helps you get with her.

Most men break shit down very simply and because of that, we usually don't really care what money our S/O has given that we have enough money to not have to worry about providing. This is why it's common to date 8s and 9s who don't exactly shine with their intelligence or their income - we overprioritize looks & emotional health, we downplay the aspects of a relationship that we can cover ourselves (socioeconomics).

Aug 5, 2020 - 7:06pm

If you're asking randos on the Internet, you're probably not a car guy...

... so came here to say Lexus. Toyota reliability with luxury nearly on par with German rivals. IS and GS are RWD and can be fun to drive. ES if you want Camry-level reliability. Buy used, spend around 25k, and you'll have a classy car that keeps its value and is reliable and you won't have to waste your time thinking about it. If you want something fun to drive that's even cheaper, then look into Mazda6.

If you want something that pulls chicks look at the other comments.

Aug 6, 2020 - 10:45am

I bought a 2005 Subaru Forester right out of college for $7k. Drove it for like ~50k miles through my time in Minnesota and Virginia for grad school and for a few years after grad school. Great car. I got rid of it because the head gasket was leaking and I wanted to move to Manhattan. Sold it to some randos for like $2k in cash. Would recommend.

Start Discussion

Total Avg Compensation

September 2020 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (17) $704
  • Vice President (45) $323
  • Associates (257) $228
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (37) $203
  • 2nd Year Analyst (143) $153
  • Intern/Summer Associate (134) $141
  • 1st Year Analyst (567) $130
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (547) $82

Leaderboard See all

Jamoldo's picture
LonLonMilk's picture
Secyh62's picture
CompBanker's picture
Addinator's picture
Edifice's picture
redever's picture
frgna's picture
NuckFuts's picture
bolo up's picture
bolo up