Drivers who spend long hours on the roads and highways of America know one thing – they want the best commuter cars. These are the cars that are comfortable enough for long commutes, cars that get good gas mileage, boast excellent safety marks, and include some essential amenities that make hours on the road a little easier.
Look for automatic transmissions, good visibility, handling and maneuverability, quietness, interiors with sufficient front headroom and legroom, comfortable seats, ample storage (and sufficient number of cupholders), hands-free phone and two power ports (to charge cell phone and laptop), and steering-wheel mounted audio controls. All things considered, here are our top three picks for Best Commuter Cars:
- Mini Cooper Clubman – First introduced in 2008, the Mini Cooper Clubman for 2010 is a compact two-door hatchback that seats four and has a passenger-side reverse opening door. Consumers can customize options (from the factory and dealer-installed) to tailor the car for their commute. Clubman, notes Edmunds, is “immensely fun to drive, roomier than the regular Cooper, excellent fuel economy, highly customizable.” Cons include stiff suspension (for some), a bit noisy on the highway, “terrible” base stereo. Forbes lists Clubman as one of its Best for Commuters cars for 2010 due to “generous cabin room” (45 inches front headroom and 42 inches front legroom).
- Mazda 3 – Completely redesigned for 2010, the second-generation Mazda 3 compact sedan and four-door hatchback provide more bang for the buck – even in base form. Edmunds hails the base model’s “refined engine and surprisingly sophisticated suspension and interior,” while also noting “taller folks will be comfortable up front” and “highway ride is smooth enough to please most commuters.” Front headroom is 45 inches, while front legroom is 41 inches. Slight negatives: interior and trunk not as large as some competitors, and ride may be too firm for some drivers. The compact sedan is also on Forbes Best for Commuter Cars list for 2010.
- Nissan Sentra – Forbes includes Sentra SE-R Spec V compact sedan on its Best for Commuter Cars. Edmunds says Sentra “remains a solid choice thanks to its performance variants, high fuel efficiency and low upkeep costs.” Regarding commuting, Edmunds remarks: “As good a daily commuter as can be made. Uninvolved driving experience is perfect for the uninvolved driver.” Front headroom and legroom dimensions are 45 inches and 41.5 inches, respectively. U.S. News and World Report says Sentra’s “decent gas mileage, comfortable and roomy cabin, and impressive list of interior features” make it a “good choice as a daily driver.” Downsides are “unimpressive engine” and “abundant interior plastics.”