The cost savings of living in a suburb compared with a city cannot be ignored. Nevertheless, commuting is a pain. If you're doing it daily, you might as well make sure you have a ride that makes it as enjoyable as it can be, without being a drag on your savings. Here are a few cars that offer value, efficiency, reliability, safety, performance, ease of parking and comfort — and one or two that will please car enthusiasts. The data are from U.S.News, which offers vehicle research tools and ranking systems.
Best Cars for Long Commutes in 2019
1. Volkswagen Passat
MPG: 25 city, 36 highway
Though a little more expensive than some other names on this list, the Volkswagen (VLKAF) Passat is spacious and nice to drive. I actually have one of these. I average about 48 mpg on the highway, but my 2015 TDI VW with a six-speed manual might not be what the average commuter is looking for. The more mainstream Passat offers a nice balance between higher end materials, comfort, a nice ride, with the commuter-friendly gas mileage of a much cheaper vehicle. Believe me, these cars very nice for their price.
Positive attributes include: spacious seats, large trunks (they do indeed pack a lot of room), a smooth relaxed tide. Some critiques of the 2019 model included complaints over engine options. Overall, the car has an above-average safety score (though apparently weaker for the midsize sedan class). I'd dock it a few points for an average reliability rating.
2. Toyota Camry
Carrying very high reliability ratings, with excellent gas mileage, the Toyota (TM - Get Report) Camry definitely ranks high on any list involving lots of driving. The sedan gets 22-29 mpg in the city, and 32-41 mpg on the highway. Reviews spoke well of the cars fun driving nature, that is coupled with peppy and efficient engines.
If you opt for the Camry Hybrid, you can achieve a whopping 53 mpg on the highway. Unfortunately, it comes with a higher asking price; base models cost around $28,000. Whether that extra few miles per gallon is worth it is largely a personal choice. Both versions of the car receive praise for reliability, safety, and performance. If you want to get the most out of it as a commuter, the non-hybrid version should definitely be paired with the fuel sipping four-cylinder. The V-6 has quite a bit of horsepower, but will increase your commuting costs quite a bit.
3. Nissan Altima
MPG: 25-28 city, 34-39 highway
The Nissan (NSANF) Altima is noted for being a little less "sporty" in its driving experience than the Camry, but still offers resoundingly good fuel mileage, with strong reliability. A few complaints included the more underwhelming driving experience, and cheaper cabin materials. Ironcially, the reviews also list Nissan Altima as having a very comfortable cabin.
4. Volkswagen Jetta
MPG: 25-30 city, 32-40 highway
A long-time favorite within small sedans, the Volkswagen Jetta is an easy shoe-in for this list. With above-average reliability, a stellar safety score, and excellent gas mileage, the Jetta is a great commuter car. One of the biggest strengths of the Jetta are the options. You can get a bare bones Jetta for far less than many other names on this list. It's also one of the few names left where you can get a stick shift. Believe me, it makes any drive a lot more fun. Reviews noted supportive seats, a smooth ride, and an easy infotainment system. Some complaints included a small trunk, and less engaging driving than in the past.
5. Toyota Prius
MPG: 52-54 city, 48-50 highway
The name Prius almost screams great gas mileage. Definitely not the most attractive or manly car on this list (beauty is in the eye of the beholder), the Toyota Prius tries to make up for it with pure utilitarian efficiency. The car is a bit ironic, as the battery setup actually creates better gas mileage in town than on the highway. Toyota has been making efforts to get the Prius more accessible to consumers. For 2019, all-wheel drive has been added, making the car a better commuter option in northern winters. Of course, the pure fuel savings come at a cost. The car suffers from poor acceleration and unexciting steering. With strong reliability scores, the Prius may very well be the best car for long commutes. Just don't expect to have a lot of fun outside of that efficiency.
6. Ford Escape
MPG: 21-23 city, 27-30 highway
Don't like sitting low? Want a little more of an SUV feel without the SUV costs? The Ford Escape is a decent option for commuting. The added height and shape does take a few miles per gallon from you, but overall the Ford (F - Get Report) Escape gets comparable gas mileage to many sedans. The primary reason is it's built on a uni-body car frame with a small engine. This is by no means an SUV. It's a crossover that gives you just a little bit more than a sedan can. Reviews like the decent cargo room, good handling and peppy engines from Ford's turbo engines. If you want fuel efficiency, steer clear of the SEL trim, which carries a 245 horsepower turbo four cylinder. With a good reliability score, the Escape is a good car for long commutes to work. The smaller size also makes it a good car for parking.
7. Honda Civic
MPG: 25-32 city, 35-42 highway
The Honda (HNDAF) Civic offers are darn good gas mileage. With sporty looks, strong reviews for performance, and very nice materials, this seems like a great car for long commutes. A sour point for the Civic is a surprisingly below-average reliability rating; a surprising rating for a car from a company like Honda. Something I like about the Civic is the number of options when it comes to trims. You can have a gas sipping 158 horsepower engine, or a 306 horsepower beast. Of course, for commuting you certainly want to focus on the smaller engine.
8. Mini Cooper Countryman
MPG: 21-24 city, 30-33 highway
Live in the city? Work in the city? Basically have a daily need to be able to park in the city? The Mini Cooper Countryman is a darn good option. The small cars are definitely polarizing. You either like the styling or you don't. If you get past that, the reviews on performance combined with fuel efficiency are pretty tough to beat. Noted for the famous handling, and the cool cabin style, the Mini Cooper Countryman basically offers the fun sporty appeal of the original Mini Cooper, but adds a little size to appeal to American consumers. In terms of commutes, I include this car for the parkability. Even with the increased size from a normal Mini, the car is small, very small. This means you can park it almost anywhere. The drawbacks here are pricing, and weaker fuel mileage compared to others.
MPG: 23-26 city, 31-35 highway
The Mazda6 is not considered the most reliable name on this list, but it does score high on handling and turbocharged engines. Much to my dismay, the six speed manual transmission was discontinued this year (progress breaks my heart), but the car still gets lots of attention for being a fun and lively car. The car gets praise for nice materials, but there are some criticisms over seat sizing. Perhaps this isn't the best pick if you're 6'5" in height.
10. Mazda CX-5
MPG: 22-25 city, 27-31 highway
While the Mazda (MZDAD) CX-3 receives great praise for driving fun, I chose to favor the CX-5 in large part due to its larger cabin room. The CX-5 is a great car for long commutes thanks to its strong handling, good ride, nice cabin, many engine options, and great safety score. You can get turbocharged four cylinders, or even a turbo diesel. The drawback here is an average reliability score. For consistent long commutes, you probably want an above-average rating.
11. GMC Terrain
MPG: 21-28 city, 26-39 highway
The GMC (GM - Get Report) Terrain has a great safety score, above-average reliability, and a more upscale offering for a commuter car. The Catch-22 here is certainly the higher purchase prices. The Terrain gets good marks for comfort, safety, big seats, and excellent fuel economy. Like so many crossovers these days, there is criticism about rearward visibility.
12. Honda HR-V
MPG: 26-28 city, 31-34 highway
Size is not on the Honda HR-V's side, but that's not what this car is about. This subcompact car is all about fuel economy mixed with a nice little car that will fit in tight parking spaces. Reviews liked the large cargo area (for its size), the great fuel economy, and a surprisingly awesome crash test score.The drawbacks of the tiny powertrain are a weak engine that doesn't excite. But, you can get this little car with AWD.
13. Subaru Crosstrek
MPG: 23-27 city, 29-33 highway
Subaru doesn't make a bad car. It's that simple. The Crosstrek offers above-average reliability ratings and excellent safety scores, into a compact all wheel drive car that will pretty much get you through any weather pattern you'll face on a daily commute. It will hold a lot of stuff for its size, is well built, and offers an awesome balance of gas mileage with all road capability. Don't get me wrong, it's not a Jeep Wrangler, but Subaru has a great AWD reputation for a reason. You pay for this balance with rather unexciting driving performance thanks to the small four cylinder engine that's mated with a continuously variable transmission. Acceleration is not this cars main priority.
14. Volkswagen Golf SportWagen
MPG: 21-29 city, 29-37 highway
The SportWagen might not appeal to those judgers of the all too useful station wagon, but I'm including it anyway. Essentially a Jetta with a big trunk, this car has loads of cargo room, with excellent gas mileage. With available AWD, it's also useful in inclement weather.
15. Subaru Outback
MPG: 20-25 city, 27-32 highway
The Subaru Outback needs no real introduction. The long popular Outback has the raised ground clearance and all-wheel drive to get you through any long commute; regardless of season. The Outback has room, folks; lots of it. The trunk is large and will carry whatever you need. The seats are comfortable. The ride is smooth, and the excellent balance between its gas mileage and utility makes it a well rounded car for essentially anyone. I've driven these, and would not hesitate to use as a car for long commutes. The safety scores, coupled with its more rugged nature make it an excellent commuter for anyone in range of the northern elements.
16. Nissan Rogue
MPG: 25-25 city, 32-33 highway
The Nissan Rogue offers a good blend of fuel efficiency, good quality materials, and strong cargo room to make it a good commuter for someone that needs more than just a fuel-efficient sedan. The crossover certainly doesn't get the love of some other names on this list, as it suffers from a weak engine. Nonetheless, it's a nice balance between many different factors. The safety scores are high, and it carries average reliability.
17. Subaru Forester
MPG: 26 city, 33 highway
Redesigned for 2019, the Subaru Forester is expected to carry the same reliability ratings that have made the brand so popular. Coupled with the all-wheel drive and fuel mileage, you really can't go wrong with a Subaru. The car has good safety ratings, while offering good interior space. As with the Subaru Outback, the Foresters well rounded nature makes it an excellent choice if you need more than just commuting fuel economy. Snow won't ruin your week with symmetrical all-wheel drive.
18. Toyota Rav4
MPG: 25-26 city, 33-35 highway
The Rav4 has excellent safety ratings, strong reliability ratings, and creates a whole lot of gas mileage while offering the option of all-wheel drive. Reviews favor the cars cargo space, comfortable ride, and the excellent predicted reliability. On the negative, the car has a loud engine noise, and lacks the athletic appeal of some competitors. Nonetheless, this is a reliable crossover with available AWD.
19. Subaru Impreza
MPG: 22-28 city, 30-38 highway
A disappointing moment for Subaru, the Impreza does not have the greatest reliability rating. You definitely don't want to own one out of warranty. As this list consists of 2019 cars, you're OK for a few years. The Impreza has a lower purchase price than many competitors, and the MPG for a standard all-wheel drive car are pretty difficult to beat. That does come at a price, as reviews noted a weak engine. But if you're worried about an efficient commute, you're not worried about peeling out.
24-27 city, 32-36 highway
Much like the other Mazdas noted on this list, the Mazda3 has excellent reviews for driving enjoyment. When you're making a long commute every day, that performance can make it all a lot less stressful. Reviews liked the engine, transmission, and high-quality interior. It's nice to be able to get a car that's fun to drive, that also has the mileage capabilities of the Mazda3. The car has excellent safety ratings, but only average reliability. Oh, did I mention you can get it with AWD?
21. Honda Accord
MPG: 22-30 city, 21-38 highway
Reviews praise the handling, tech, room, and engine of the Honda Accord. Offering superb gas mileage, along with tons of cargo space and passenger room, the Accord is a great all-around sedan. The fact that it would work well for long commutes is simply an added bonus.
22. Jeep Compass
MPG: 22-23 city, 30-32 highway
While I am definitely not a fan of the ever-rising number of crossovers on the market, a nice benefit of the lifted unibody craze has been gas mileage. Indeed, you can get many CUV's that compromise nothing when it comes to fuel economy. The Jeep Compass is one of those offerings. Depending on where you're commuting, sometimes all-wheel drive is essential for safe travel. Jeep has a long track record of excellent drivetrain systems for just that. Because it essentially a slightly taller sedan, the Compass comparable fuel mileage to most of the cars on this list. This is not a fast car, or a well-handling, sporty ride. It simply offers a good AWD option with good gas mileage.
23. Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid
MPG: 55-57 city, 54-59 highway
In terms of raw fuel efficiency, The Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid is pretty darn good. Reviews don't exactly favor the ride quality, and it's not a car for carrying a bunch of passengers comfortably. What it does have is fuel savings, fuel savings, and more fuel savings. If you're one of those unfortunate souls that have extremely long commutes, the Ioniq's mileage, great reliability rating, and cargo space will definitely help save you some money.
24. Ford Mustang Ecoboost
Sounds weird, I know, but the Ford Mustang offers an ecoboost fastback Mustang for around $26,000. Are you an adventurous soul that values fun driving? The ecoboost Mustang might solve your problem. Reviews love the cars handling, and sporty styling and interior. Let's be clear. This obviously isn't the most practical choice, but if like me you don't ever want to compromise fun for convenience, the ecoboost Mustang gets a respectable 21 mpg in the city, and 31 mpg on the highway. That's right, a 310-horsepower, 2.3 liter engine that can still get you 31 miles per gallon on the highway commute. You can even get it in a six-speed manual. If you want to enjoy your commute to work, this car is awesome.
25. Chevy Malibu
MPG: 22-29 city, 32-36 highway
Getting back to good ol' practicality, the Chevy Malibu is given good marks for a nice smooth ride, big comfy seats, and excellent mileage numbers. The car is pretty much in line with most prices on this list, all while offering passenger room and a decent trunk. It's not super exciting. Nor does it receive nearly as much praise as other options in terms of performance. If you're simply looking for a fuel-efficient car for long commutes, it'll do the trick.