Sometimes the reality of what a car has to do is not as interesting as what we want. It's easy to imagine going on endless camping trips or driving down winding roads when buying a car, but most of these miles are likely to be accumulated during daily commuting. The best commuter cars make everyday life as stress-free as possible with a smooth ride and user-friendly technology, but still offer something special when you are not on the way to and from work. Here are our top tips:
The best overall
Why you should buy this: It's comfortable, economical and fun.
For whom: People who spend a lot of time in their cars.
How much does it cost: $ 20,650 + (sedan)
Why we chose the Honda Civic:
Honda's evergreen small car has everything you could want in a commuter vehicle. It's affordable, has a reputation for reliability, and you don't have to drain your savings account to fill its tank. But Honda also gives you a little something extra.
The Civic is one of the best moving small cars. Steering and suspension are precise and react quickly to driver input. The optional 1.5-liter four-cylinder with turbocharger and 174 hp is more than enough to take advantage of traffic gaps. But if you can't drive fast, the Civic still impresses with a comfortable ride and a quiet cabin that makes long journeys less strenuous.
Honda also paid attention to the details when designing the Civic cockpit. The seats feel good and the controls are easily accessible to the driver. An available 7.0-inch touchscreen is combined with a volume control and hard buttons for important menus to simplify use without being distracted. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also available.
Honda also has a large selection. You can have a Civic sedan, coupe, or hatchback. If the standard version isn't sporty enough for you, Honda offers Si versions of the sedan and coupe as well as the 306 hp Civic Type R hatchback.
Read our Honda Civic Sedan Review
Best Commuter SUV
Why You Should Buy It: It's an SUV that drives like a car.
For whom? weekend warrior.
How much does it cost: 25,050 USD +
Why we chose the Honda CR-V: Many buyers want the higher driving position, the additional cargo space and the all-wheel traction of an SUV, do not want to deal with poor fuel consumption values truck-like handling. The Honda CR-V was one of the first car-based crossovers to offer these positive SUVs without negatives, and remains one of the best.
The CR-V seems to be designed for daily commuting. It is by no means a sporty vehicle, but its handling and acceleration feel impressive like a car. The driving quality is extremely luxurious and the interior is one of the quietest that we have seen in this price range. The CR-V also has a solid, confidence-building feeling.
The only thing holding the CR-V back was the lack of a hybrid powertrain, leaving the Honda one step behind its rival Toyota RAV4. Honda finally introduced a hybrid CR-V for the 2020 model year and although it is not quite as economical as the Toyota, it still delivers a total of 40 mpg. The 1.5-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine offered in non-hybrid CR-V models is also more powerful and refined than its Toyota counterpart.
When it comes to technology, Honda has you covered. The standard Honda Sensing package with driver aids includes autonomous emergency braking, a forward collision warning, a departure departure, a lane departure warning, a lane departure warning system and adaptive cruise control. The infotainment system has a 7.0-inch touchscreen and Apple CarPlay / Android auto compatibility, although it is not available in the LX basic configuration.
Read our Honda CR-V Hybrid review
best commuter electric car
Why you should buy this: It's better for the environment and your wallet.
For whom? Eco warrior.
How much does it cost: ] $ 31,600 +
Why we chose the Nissan Leaf: Electric cars are inherently good commuter cars. The distance to average commuting does not cause range anxiety – especially if your workstation has charging stations. Stop-and-go traffic allows you to make good use of regenerative braking and to regain some energy when braking. You can also protect the environment and save fuel at the same time.
The Nissan Leaf is a good value among electric cars. The Leaf offers more than a Chevrolet Bolt EV or Hyundai Kona Electric. The base price of the Nissan also undercuts these cars. Granted, that only buys a 40-kilowatt-hour battery with 150 miles, but that should be more than enough for everyday commuting, provided you can charge at night. Nissan also offers a Leaf Plus model with a 62 kWh battery and a range of up to 226 miles.
Nissan also makes the transition to an electric car easier. The Leaf's e-pedal system combines regenerative and mechanical braking, so you can maximize regeneration without guesswork. Aside from its whisper-quiet electric powertrain, the Leaf also feels like any other car, not a futuristic science project. The infotainment system is a bit disappointing, but at least you get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Read our Nissan Leaf Plus review
The best commuter sports car
Why you should buy this: You only live once.
For whom: People who like to have fun.
How much does it cost: $ 26,670 +
Why we chose the Ford Mustang: Not every commuter car has to be practical. If you want to have fun driving over the weekend and have to compromise on the back seat and trunk, the Ford Mustang can double as a commuter on weekdays and a weekend toy.
It may not be the best choice for carpooling, but the Mustang has enough space so that you don't feel cramped like most traditional two-seat sports cars. The Sync 3 infotainment system from Ford is easy to use (a new Sync 4 system is in preparation) and comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Ford also offers a sophisticated, reconfigurable digital instrument cluster as an option.
If fuel consumption performance is a priority, the 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine with turbocharger delivers a total of 25 MPG and still delivers 310 hp. From there, things quickly escalate. A performance package for the EcoBoost increases the performance to 330 hp. Or you can upgrade to a 5.0-liter V8 in the GT, a 5.2-liter V8 in the Shelby GT350 or a supercharged version of this engine in the Shelby GT500. Granted, the 760 hp GT500 may be a little too extreme for everyday use.
Read our Ford Mustang EcoBoost HPP test
BMW 3 Series
The best commuter luxury car
Why you should buy this: It's a step above the average of a car and full of technology.
For whom? People who want something more.
How much does it cost: 40.750 USD +
Why we chose the BMW 3 Series: The current generation BMW 3 Series is a bit softer than its predecessors, but that makes it a perfect one Commuter car. The 3 Series was long considered the largest sports sedan, but now BMW has mixed in a little more luxury.
The 3 Series still has its old magic. The bimmer has quick reflexes and silky smooth motors (either inline four or inline six, with mandatory turbocharging). But it also keeps you isolated from bumps and street noise like a real luxury car. Enthusiasts may complain of a loss of sharpness compared to previous generations, but that doesn't matter if you mainly drive back and forth in the office.
The 3 Series is the entry-level sedan from BMW and the past, which is shown in the quality of the interior. This is not a problem with today's 3 Series, which feels much closer to the larger 5 Series inside. BMW also offers a lot of technology, including an available 10.25-inch infotainment screen, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, and a digital assistant that works a bit like Amazon Alexa.
Read our BMW 3 Series Test
How we test
The Digital Trends automotive team tests vehicles through a comprehensive review process. We examine the properties of the exterior and interior and assess them based on our specialist knowledge and experience in the context of the vehicle category and price range. Entertainment technology and most security features that can be tested in controlled environments are thoroughly tested.
Test drivers spend a lot of time at the wheel of the vehicles, carry out tests in practice and drive them on motorways and side streets, if necessary as an off-road and race track.