Best Commuter Cars for Everyday Use

Article Summary

The best commuter cars are reliable, affordable, safe, and have great fuel economy. The size and price will depend on your personal needs and budget. Some of the most popular commuter cars include the Toyota Prius, the Toyota Rav4, the Hyundai Elantra, and the Honda Accord.

Short of a house, the car you drive is probably going to be one of the biggest purchases you make. Your car is not just a car. It’s an investment in your ability to make it to work on time, and it also can be an investment in your safety.

Most of us are not looking for a flashy commuter car. We all just want to be able to make it from home to work without worrying about a breakdown on the way there. And if you have a long commute, you probably want to save money on gas, if possible. Let’s take a look at the best commuter cars for 2023 that check all of these boxes.

The best commuter cars of 2023

These cars stand out for their affordability, fuel economy, and safety features.

2023 Honda Civic

Honda Civics are known for exceptional fuel economy among gas-engine cars, excellent blind spot monitoring, and for being remarkably long-running and affordable.

Civics are also well-known for their reliability and highway safety. U.S. News ranks the 2023 Civic No. 1 out of 11 compact cars. If you are looking for impressive fuel economy with a gas-powered car, then this is one of the best commuter cars you can buy. Gas mileage can range from 22 to 42 miles per gallon, depending on driving conditions.

Price range: $24,650 to $26,000+

2023 Honda Accord

The Honda Accord sedan is like a slightly bigger sibling to the Honda Civic, and it’s also become popular for a typical daily commute. The 2023 model has several trims available with hybrid engines that get 48+ mpg and allow you to travel long distances without worrying about where the next charging station will be.

Excellent safety features and a sleek exterior look make this a great choice for commuters who want something simple, efficient, and affordable. The Honda Accord no longer offers a manual transmission option, so if you want this car, expect to drive an automatic transmission model.

Price range: $28,000 to $41,000

2023 Mazda Mazda3

Compact cars like the Mazda3 are ideal commuter cars for people who live in cities with limited parking options. They are easier to park, and they also tend to get better gas mileage than most other car types.

If you want a compact car with a zippy six-speed transmission (automatic or manual) and additional safety features like automatic emergency braking, then you may want to consider the Mazda3. All of the 2023 models also feature smartphone integration, and the Carbon Edition features all-wheel drive.

Price range: $23,550 to $29,000+

Pro Tip

The Mazda3 has a five-year, 60,000-mile warranty. So if you want reliability, it’s a great (yet affordable) commuter car.

2023 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid

Hyundais are also known for being reliable and affordable. The Hyundai Elantra is one of several hybrid-electric motor vehicles that Hyundai produces, and this one has a gas mileage rating of up to 56 mpg on the highway.

If you live in a crowded city, you’ll love the rear park assist feature that comes standard on this car. Advanced safety features like driver attention warning and forward collision warning also help you feel safe on the road. And as a nice bonus for people in colder climates, heated seats are standard too.

Price range: $24,500 to $29,000+

2023 Hyundai Ioniq 5

Are you looking forward to parting from gas station life altogether? It might be time to consider an electric vehicle. The Hyundai Ioniq 5 is one of the most affordable of the larger electric vehicles on the market. And with a range of 220-303 miles on a charge (depending on the trim model), it’s expected to become one of the most popular EVs.

Each Ioniq 5 sale comes with two years of free charging at select gas stations. While prices start at $45,000 for the SE trim level, the Ioniq 5’s look and feel, combined with gas savings, make it an excellent choice among electric vehicles.

Price range: $45,000+

Pro Tip

Some U.S. locations have more charging stations for electric vehicles than others. You can find a map of charging stations here. If you are worried that you will struggle to power an all-electric car, then you may want to choose a hybrid car instead.

2023 Toyota Camry

The Toyota Camry line has become one of the most popular car series of all time, especially for sedans. Why? Because it’s one of the most reliable cars on the market with a slew of safety technologies that are ideal for crowded streets.

The basic model starts at $25,000, making it one of the most affordable commuter vehicles. It also is fairly roomy, especially in the rear seats. So, if you want to carpool, you absolutely can do it with this model.

Price range: $25,000 to $36,000

2023 Toyota Prius

The Toyota Prius was a trailblazer when it first came out and rightfully so. Toyota offers a full line of hybrid Prius vehicles that helped kick off the trend toward electric vehicles. The Prius has everything you need for long-haul commutes, including stellar infotainment and navigation systems.

Better still, the 2023 Prius has a combined fuel economy of 57 miles per gallon in highway driving conditions. It also has cruise control and a near-perfect safety rating, making it ideal for longer commutes.

Price range: $28,545 to $36,960

Pro Tip

Due to the many safety features, getting auto insurance for a Prius is usually a cinch and may cost less than it would on other cars that insurance companies consider risky.

2023 Chrysler Pacifica

Do you want to avoid an expensive car, but still need a commuter car that can haul a large family on the weekends? If so, then the Chrysler Pacifica might be the perfect car for you. It has comfy seats, an SUV frame, and tons of room.

With an 18-mpg city, 28-mpg highway gas mileage rating, it’s a fairly gas-friendly SUV. And with a five-star crash safety rating, you also can rest assured that your family will be safe in it. If you have a lot of school events to attend but still need a reliable car, then this may be one of the better commuter cars for you.

Price range: $37,000 to $56,000+

2023 Toyota Rav4

Boxy and lovable, the Toyota Rav4 is an SUV that works just as well for family outings as it does for office carpools. Roomy front seats and plenty of space in the back make it a favorite of adults and kids alike.

Despite its large size, the gas-powered Rav4 has a respectable 30-mpg gas rating. The regular hybrid should get 41 mpg city and 38 mpg highway while the plug-in hybrid-electric version, the Rav4 Prime, can get up to 94 mpge before it switches to 38 mpg highway driving assist. Not too shabby!

Price range: $27,950 to $36,000+

Find the perfect car for you

Getting a quality commuter car is quite different from a luxury car. You’re not looking for leather seats or a fancy name. You’re looking for a car that is reliable, safe, and comfortable.

Before you snag that new ride, you should determine whether to buy or lease and what it takes to pay off a car loan early. Maybe you’re thinking about a Tesla but aren’t sure you can afford one. Whatever you’re thinking about driving, we can help you get started researching your car loan options.

FAQ

What is the best “practical car” to buy?

This can vary from person to person, depending on your unique needs. For example, if you work certain jobs, a Ford F-150 could be an ideal commuter car and work car. If you work a desk job, you may want to go with a reliable Honda Civic that gets great mileage.

Which brand of car is most reliable?

According to Kelly Blue Book, the most reliable car brands are Toyota and Lexus. They have lower breakdown rates than other cars of similar age and build.

Which car is best for daily long-distance driving?

Thanks to its strong focus on safety features, roomy seats, and competitive fuel economy, the Honda Civic remains one of the most popular cars for long-distance commutes. If you want to go for an electric car, consider the Tesla Model 3. It has a range of over 350 miles.

Which cars break down the most?

It’s difficult to name a specific brand because each brand has models with varying levels of reliability. However, Consumer Reports includes the Jeep Wrangler, Ford Explorer, Nissan Sentra, and the Chevy Silverado/GMC Sierra on its list of the least reliable cars.

Is Tesla a commuter car?

It depends on the model and your type of commute. Tesla Model 3 cars are great for people who need to travel longer distances. The big issue that Tesla owners may face is a lack of reliable charging stations in their area. If your commute takes you outside of large metropolitan areas, you may want to choose a hybrid car instead.

Key takeaways

  • When choosing a commuter car, make sure to look at your needs both in and out of the office.
  • The two main factors you should look for in a commuter car are good gas mileage and reliability. Price may be a factor in your decision as well.
  • Small hybrid car models tend to do better as commuter cars for people who live in suburban areas. For example, models like the Honda Civic and Toyota Camry are famous for being some of the best commuter cars.
  • What you consider a commuter car depends on the type of work you do. A pickup truck may be an ideal commuter car if you work a construction job, for example.
  • Large families will be more comfortable with SUVs and crossover models, such as the Toyota Rav4.

 

View Article Sources
  1. Cars, SUVs, and Trucks With the Best Fuel Economy – Consumer Reports
  2. 10 Least Reliable Cars – Consumer Reports
  3. DOE and DOT Launch Joint Effort to Build Out Nationwide Electric Vehicle Charging Network – Transportation.gov
  4. How to Get Better Gas Mileage: 8 Simple Ways – SuperMoney
  5. How to Buy a New Car – SuperMoney