Coolest Full-size SUV
Used: Ford Excursion
The Excursion was Ford's first attempt to beat Chevy's Suburban at its own game. Unlike the Suburban that was offered in half-ton and three-quarter-ton versions the Excursion was exclusively built on Ford's Super Duty chassis. The Excursion also offered something the Suburban didn't: a diesel engine. The Excursion guzzles fuel and costs more than $170 dollars to fill in today's world of $4 per gallon fuel, but who else wouldn't want to legally bring along their eight closest friends and all their gear?
New: Chevrolet Tahoe/GMC Yukon
The current Tahoe/Yukon twins run circles around Ford's Expedition as far as power and fuel economy go. Like all three row full-size SUVs (short of the discontinued Excursion or the extended-length Suburban) cargo room behind the back seats is at a premium. The twins however are capable of carrying all your college buddies in comfort or your four closest friends and all your gear.
Used: The Honda Element
The Honda Element was one of the first soft-roaders. Its 2.4-liter inline-four engine's 166 horsepower engine combined with an optional all-wheel-drive system offered adequate capability to make it to the trail head. The Element came with only four seats, which could be converted to two single person beds. A lift-out moonroof in the rear of the ceiling was at a perfect angle to fall asleep gazing at the stars. It also offered a rubber floor, which made spraying the interior out with a hose possible. Alas, the misunderstood Element will be discontinued after 2011.
New: Mini Countryman S All4
The new for 2012 Countryman S All4 offers the confidence of all-wheel drive for those who attend school in snow regions. The Mini SUV offers benefits from a punchy turbocharged 1.6-liter engine which helps it dart around campus looking for a spot when you are running a bit late. It seats four adults comfortably and offers a surprising amount of cargo space with the rear seats up.
Used: Volkswagen Bus
The V-Dub Bus has been a campus stable since the 1960s -- and there is no reason for it to stop now. The Type 1 is the most popular bus and can be carry all your friends or be set up as a nice alternative to your dorm room -- perfect for those who are hippie-at-heart. As long as you're not in a big hurry. Even in the modern-day Vanagon iteration, at it's most powerful, VW's counter-cultural icon only offered 90 horsepower, and most of the classic versions puttered along with about 60. But as the deadheads or surfers that probably sold it to you might say, "Chill out, man!"
New: Ford Transit Connect
The Volkswagen Bus is easily accepted on campus for the hippies among us. But in these days the van owners' can be labeled as creepers and minivans remind us the vehicle many of our parents toted us around in. So, how did the Transit Connect make the list? Two words: band members. It's the best way to haul your band members and music gear without being exposed to the elements. Its funky looks and high roof should garner plenty of attention with your band's logo on the side.
Used SUV: Jeep Wrangler
The Jeep Wrangler has been an American icon since birth. It has the go anywhere -- do anything attitude many off-road enthusiasts love. And that spirit applies to campus life; whether you live in a wet climate or have nearby mountains or trails to explore the Wrangler can take you where your mind can focus on things besides school after studying, of course. And it also becomes a topless-getaway vehicle for a romantic weekend for two -- even if it came with the hard-top.
Used Truck: Toyota Tacoma
The Tacoma is the perfect tailgate vehicle: later models offer the aforementioned 110 volt outlet in the bed, which is perfect for pre-game margaritas, and George Foreman hamburgers! And during the off season it can traverse rough terrain on the way to the perfect make-out -err study location.
New SUV: Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
The Wrangler Unlimited allows you to take four friends in comfort (as opposed to one in comfort and two with minimal leg room) when you want need to get away from campus and want to head off road for some weekend fun.
New Truck: Ford F-150 Raptor SVT
Ford's desert racer is the factory king of all four-wheel-drive vehicles with a bed. It can haul both figuratively and literally. What better way to impress the opposite sex than in a vehicle that is more go than it is show?
Coolest University Vehicle: Land Rover LR4
The Land Rover LR4 is all about prestige -- and capability, but mostly prestige. Its old-world roots give it an air of security and its off-road capabilities are second to none. It's sure to impress the frat boys and the sorority girls equally.
Coolest Community College Vehicle: Subaru Brat
The Subaru Brat doesn't quit. They're old -- and they look it -- but they may possibly survive a nuclear blast; which is plenty of time for you to finish your two-year degree before moving on to the University. The questionably-safe rear bed seats are also an undeniably cool vestige of a more carefree era, which we'll probably never see again.