Buying Guides

The 5 Best Cars for Commuting

The grand slam of solid mileage, good tech and high comfort

Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief

As much as we love cars, we hate commuting because it just drains the life out of everyone who has to do the daily slog each way, snarled in traffic. But it's a reality that won't get mitigated by self-driving cars anytime soon. And since not everyone can afford a Tesla Model S with Autopilot, we're left with cars that are a bit more realistic in price. And not any car will be well suited to mitigate some of the pain of commuting. Good mileage is a must, but so is comfort and a solid set of technology that helps make the drive to and from the office that much more palatable.

2017 Lexus CT F Sport

  • PROS: Good gas mileage, practical hatchback with a premium interior, sporty handling, handsome in F Sport Trim
  • CONS: No adaptive cruise control available, weird Prius-like shift knob, slower than a Prius, can get expensive.

The CT ($37,785 base MSRP) might not get the love it deserves, but we enjoyed our time behind the wheel. It might not be a quick car, but it handles better than most other hybrids. You have to love the car for what it is: an efficient hatchback hybrid with a premium badge and premium appointments. No other car can boast that. It's the kind of small car that makes you feel special when you're sitting in traffic, and the fact that it has excellent reliability, comfortable seats and nimble handling make it the right car for the commuting set.

2017 BMW 328d xDrive

  • PROS: Premium interior, all-wheel drive traction, sporty handling, excellent hybrid-like gas mileage, the longevity of diesel.
  • CONS: Snooty BMW image, odd shift knob can get knocked into neutral too easily, no standard backup camera, packages send the price north fast.

The 328d xDrive ($42,250 base MSRP) has just about everything. Comfort for four, premium appointments, racy styling, a potent turbodiesel engine, all-wheel drive and excellent mileage chops (30 city / 40 hwy). You'd be hard-pressed to find a sporty sedan that's this pleasurable to spend long commuting hours in. Options can send the price high pretty quickly, but even a base model will suit you just fine on the daily drive.

Lexus RX 450h

  • PROS: One of the best CUV interiors in the business, sharp styling, excellent adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist systems, incredible long-haul front seats, good gas mileage.
  • CONS: Angular styling can be polarizing, Enform controls are frustrating.

When we drove the RX 450h ($53,985 base MSRP), we pretty much fell lin love with the newly redesigned crossover. Not only does it have one of the best interiors in the business, it also has some seriously comfortable seats that almost make you not want to get out when you get to the office. Add adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning from the Lexus Safety System Plus package, and you can reduce the fatigue and stress normally associated with painful commutes.

2017 Ford Fusion SE Hybrid

  • PROS: The addition of Platinum trim provides heated and cooled seats and adaptive cruise control, refined interior, ride is comfy and quiet, 42 mpg combined is seriously good, driving dynamics.
  • CONS: Slow off to accelerate to highway speeds, steering lacks feedback.

The Fusion is one of our favorite cars overall. It's a practical four-door sedan, handles quite well and looks incredible for car that's geared towards the family. Tweaks to the fascia and tail section add a dose of refinement, and make it fresh for 2017. The SE Hybrid ($26,480 base MSRP) provides stellar mileage by nailing 42 mpg combined, eliminating the notion that you have to buy a dinky hatchback hybrid to get real efficiency. The interior is refined, especially when you upgrade to Platinum trim, and the new rotary gearshift knob is a breeze to use.

2017 Mazda6

  • PROS: Interior is better than cars costing far more, excellent front seats, stunning exterior design, great gas mileage for a non-hybrid vehicle, sporty handling, great long-haul cruiser.
  • CONS: No cooled seats or heated steering wheel.

There's not much you won't love about the Mazda6 ($21,495 base MSRP) since it's the best family sedan we've ever driven. The fact that this naturally-aspirated engine gives the 6 up to 38 mpg highway is a huge reason to choose this steed for your commute. The spacious interior and brilliantly ergonomic layout means you'll be less tired at the end of the day. Sporty seats, combined with truly sporty handling and an incredibly comfortable ride equates to driving pleasure, whether you're going fast or slow.

The realities of commuting

  • Nationwide, the average commute is 42 hours annually. It larger cities, it's at least double
  • Commuters waste an average of $960 per year snarled in traffic
  • 86% of American workers drive their cars to work
  • 3 out of 4 Americans drive to and from work alone

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