Millions of Americans drive to work every day. With all that time spent behind the wheel, you want a car that performs well and won’t give you problems. We picked vehicles based on reliability, price, performance, and gas mileage. We also classified them according to commuter type (urban, country, shared, and seasonal). Let’s take a look at the best used cars for commuting.
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For urban commuting you want maneuverability and ease of parking. In many cases, this vehicle runs to and from work, with a larger vehicle left at home for moving kids and cargo around. Our pick for best urban commuter is the 2013 Nissan Leaf S 4D Hatchback which costs about $11,200*.
The Leaf is electric (99 mpg) which means that short distances are ideal while recharging limits long drives. You have quick acceleration from a stop, but highway speeds can take time to reach. The compact size and solid reliability ratings make this urban commuter a winner.
For longer commutes, you want a balance of efficiency and comfort. Plus, you want enough engine for passing slower traffic when the road opens up. The Ford Focus is our recommendation for the country commuter. The SE sedan 4D version carries a 2.0 liter, 160 hp engine, and it gets a combined 31 mpg. For 2012, the Focus was overhauled to be much sportier with improved handling.
Even if your commute takes you into the city, the Focus’s size won’t hurt you. Its maneuverability is excellent, and its size still enables you fit into most parking spaces. The price on a used 2013 Ford Focus is $10,300*.
The carpooler needs plenty of room, especially if you’re carrying 2 or 3 passengers. With the extra load, you want a sturdy engine as well as high marks for safety. We considered a larger sedan, but decided on a SUV instead due to improved visibility when riding up high.
The Lexus RX 450h is a roomy SUV that gets a remarkable 30 city mpg and 28 highway mpg. The engine is more than powerful enough even when hauling 4 adult passengers. The Lexus interior is quite luxurious so your guests will be comfortable during the entire commute. A 2013 Lexus RX will run you just over $35,000*.
When we say seasonal, we mean winter. For this commuter, you want a car that won’t get you stranded in bad weather. When the skies clear, you don’t want a lot of bulk either. The 2013 BMW X1 xDrive 28i fits the bill perfectly. It’s not a large vehicle which is a good thing for solo commuters and city drivers. The AWD is sure footed in bad weather, and some versions even come with heated seats.
The price on this German crossover is surprisingly reasonable; the 2013 version costs $25,000*. Expect a combined 22 mpg on the BMW X1.
Published in CARCHEX Vehicle Inspection Resources by CARCHEX on December 8, 2015