Best Commuter Cars of 2019
The average American spends 26.1 minutes commuting to work each day, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Weather, traffic and bad drivers can all conspire to make that commute longer, but there’s one sure way to make it seem shorter: driving a car you love. Here’s a look at eight of the best commuter cars that stand out for fuel efficiency, safety, and style.
How We Rate the Best Commuter Cars
- Efficient gas mileage: Paying to travel to work each day already stings (and daily commuting expenses are not tax-deductible, according to the IRS.) Driving a fuel-efficient vehicle will save you money — and in some states, hybrid or electric vehicles can use the HOV express lanes. For this list, we considered only cars that get at least 28 mpg on the highway.
- Upscale interiors: Look for a high-quality sound system, attractive finishes and a cushy interior with enough legroom and headroom.
- Reliability: What’s worse than commuting during rush hour? Getting stuck on the side of the road during rush hour.
- Fun to drive: Commuter cars don’t have to be boring.
- Advanced safety features: Lane-keeping assist, automatic braking and adaptive cruise control can work to make your commute a lot safer — and less stressful. Of course, tech can’t keep you safe from every bad driver out there. That’s why it’s important to learn the key defensive driving techniques, too. You can identify the safest commuter cars because they’ll have the “Top Safety Pick” rating from the IIHS, and/or a five-star safety rating from the NHTSA.
Four of the Best New Commuter Cars for 2019-2020
1. 2019 Volkswagen Golf (base MSRP $21,845)
Some speed enthusiasts complained about the 2019 Golf’s switch from a 1.8-liter turbocharged engine to a smaller, 1.4L engine. But the change improves fuel efficiency — to 32 mpg combined, manual or automatic —making the Golf one of the best commuter cars for 2019. It’s an attractive hatchback with a ton of room in the rear, which is a bonus if you need to haul your gym bag, laptop and other stuff to and from work. The 2019 model includes some sweet standard safety features, like blind spot monitoring and a rear cross traffic alert system. The 6 years/72,000 miles new vehicle limited warranty is a huge bonus.
2. 2019 Kia Forte (base MSRP $17,690)
When it first came out in 2008, the Forte was a pretty basic, boring ride. The redesigned 2019 Forte is the total opposite: a cute, tech-forward vehicle that easily makes the list of the best 2019 commuter cars. It has comfy seats and a well-designed interior. Standard safety features include lane-keeping assist, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and driver attention monitoring. Wireless device charging is a nice option on the EX trim. And the Forte’s fuel efficiency is incredible: up to 41 mpg highway.
3. 2019 Ford Mustang EcoBoost (base MSRP $26,395)
It’s zippy. It’s sexy. And now, it’s fuel-efficient. The 2019 Mustang offers a 2.3L EcoBoost engine that roars with 310 horsepower but still gets 31 mpg on the highway (21 in the city). The optional MagneRide Damping System makes your commute a smooth ride. The base EcoBoost Mustang includes nice features like a rearview camera, Bluetooth, two USB ports and a six-speaker sound system. Edmunds calls it “a highly desirable pick for a pony car” — and it’s a great commuter, too.
4. 2020 BMW M340i (base MSRP $54,995)
If you want to start every single workday with a huge smile on your face, then the all-new BMW M340i is the best luxury commuter car for you. It’s “the most powerful 3 Series ever not named ‘M3,’ with a 0-60 miles-per-hour time of just 4.2 seconds,” says car critic Brian Leon. The M340i includes all kinds of high-end features: a GPS-activated smart shifting system that adapts to whatever road you’re on; adaptive cruise control; and an intelligent personal assistant. Its best highway gas mileage is 34 mpg.
Top 4 Best Used Commuter Cars Under $10K
If a brand-new BMW is not in your budget, consider a late-model used car instead.
1. 2015 Toyota Prius Two
With 51 city/48 highway mpg and a well-designed interior, the classic hybrid is hands-down one of the best commuter cars. While a new Prius starts around $24,000, you can find a used model for under $10,000 if you look at older model years.
2. 2010-2012 Honda Civic
The 2012 Civic is a winner all the way around. U.S. News has named it the #1 compact car, #1 used small car and #1 affordable small car. It won’t turn heads, but the Civic is still a good-looking sedan with legendary reliability. It gets great gas mileage, too: up to 29 city/41 highway for the 2012 model year.
3. 2010-2012 Toyota RAV4
If you need a little more room than a Civic may offer, one of the best commuter SUVs is the Toyota RAV4. You’ll get decent gas mileage (up to 22 city/28 highway for the 2011 model) for a ride that’s roomy and reliable. It’s possible to find RAV4s under $10,000, although most will have around 100,000 miles on the odometer.
4. 2014-2016 Hyundai Sonata
Not only does the Sonata get up to 38 mpg on the highway, but its interior allows you to commute in luxury. Some models have leather upholstery, heated front seats, and dual-zone climate control. All these features, plus the 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty (which transfers to a certified, pre-owned Hyundai) make the Sonata one of the best cars for long commutes.
Read More: Most fuel-efficient cars under $10,000.
Once you’ve found your perfect daily driver, make sure you compare car insurance quotes from multiple companies before you buy a policy. Comparison-shopping for auto insurance often reveals that some companies charge hundreds more than others to insure the exact same car. We display real rates that come directly from the insurance companies, unlike other sites that only provide links to other companies. Try it for yourself!