Best Commuter Cars [Ranked for 2024]

Best Commuter Car Parent

Crossovers and SUVs may be in the limelight right now, but sedans are by no means down and out. In fact, they’ve gotten better than ever: between their performance, styling, and efficiency, the current crop of both mainstream and luxury four-doors are as well-rounded and sophisticated as they’ve ever been.

For those who don’t have the luxury to work from home, today’s sedans might be some of the best commuter cars yet.

Let’s take a closer look at what cars made the cut.

How We Picked the Best Commuter Cars

The high bar of excellence being set by the current market leaders makes it hard to pick favorites, but we’ve endeavored to do exactly that.

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We took a look at what buyers value the most - think fuel economy, affordability, and comfort, among other categories - and found our favorite models that best exemplify those traits.

Above all, we considered these cars from the standpoint of commuting. Can they handle the highway slog to downtown? Are they easy on the wallet? Will they stand being used and abused five days a week, 52 weeks a year, across all four seasons?

The models profiled here can indeed stand up to such wear and tear - all while putting a smile of satisfaction on your face.

Read more about how we rank our cars >>

Best Commuter Vehicles

Best Commuters
Honda Civic
Toyota Prius
Mazda 3
Base Price
Passenger Volume
99.0 cu. ft.
91.2 cu. ft.
92.7 cu. ft.
Max Cargo Volume
14.8 cu. ft.
23.8 cu. ft.
20.1 cu. ft.
Max HP
180 HP
150 HP
191 HP
Max EPA Combined MPG
35 MPG
57 MPG
30 MPG

*MPGe = Miles per gallon of gasoline-equivalent (Measures fuel efficiency of hybrid and electric models)

Best Cheap Commuter Cars

Several manufacturers continue to build affordable cars that remain appealing in their own right. Some of these cheap commuter cars are good enough to make you do a double-take when seeing the surprisingly manageable MSRP

Our favorite of these is the Honda Civic. A long mainstay of the segment, the Civic has proven to be one of the best buys in the compact-car segment on account of its zippy handling, excellent space utilization, and cheap running costs. Their reputation for reliability and excellent gas mileage - the best models return more than 40 mpg highway - means that a new Civic will hardly make a dent in your monthly budget.

An alternative to the Civic is the Mazda 3. Available as both a hatch and sedan, the Mazda 3 mixes the best attributes of the Civic with a more premium experience. The comfy, comfortable interior is upscale for the price point, and in hatchback form, the styling is surprisingly svelte. Though it looks and feels fancier than most compacts, pricing begins at just $24,000, making this Mazda a worthy contender for any shopper seeking a pleasant, affordable small car.

See all our picks for the best cheap commuter cars »

Best Used Commuter Cars

Not really a fan of buying new? We can’t really blame you, considering how expensive it is to bring home any new car these days. Luckily, the used-car market has plenty of options for just about any budget - and who wouldn’t mind nabbing that lightly-used Mercedes that costs the same as a new Camry? If that's an enticing thought, you’ll be interested in our list of best used commuter cars.

Among used cars, we’re most drawn towards the Toyota Prius from 2015-2017. We realize that a Prius isn’t exactly that Mercedes we touted earlier, but from a cost perspective, it’s hard to beat a five-year-old example of Toyota’s iconic hybrid. Besides the stellar fuel economy, the Prius also boasts excellent reliability scores - a major factor when you’re buying secondhand. It’s also roomy and comfortable, making it great for the commute.

We also like the 2016-2018 Chevrolet Volt. Again, this is a more economy-minded choice, but Chevy’s second-generation Volt is a winner on many levels. Being a PHEV, it offers the cheap running costs of an electric car while around town but the security of having a gas engine for those longer trips. On the outside, the second-gen Volt traded off the futuristic looks of its predecessor for a more demure, anonymous appearance; inside is a comfortable interior that has plenty of features. In short: it’s an all-around winner for commuters needing a cheap but enjoyable car.

See all our picks for the best used commuter cars »

What Is the Best Brand for Commuter Cars?

We’d go with either Honda or Toyota (or their luxury arms, Acura and Lexus). These two brands have firmly established their reputation for reliability, quality, and comfort, and their current lineups showcase those traits. You can’t go wrong with any of their options.

What Is the Best All-Around Commuter Car?

Our favorite is the Honda Civic. Broadly, it covers all its bases by being cheap, thrifty, comfortable, and fun. Topping it off is its great reliability. Overall, the Civic is tough to beat if you’re looking for the overall best commuter car.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the best car for daily commuting?

We’d say either the Honda Civic, the Lexus ES, or the Toyota Avalon. They make the daily commute easy thanks to great gas mileage and - in the case of the Lexus and Avalon - luxury trappings.

What’s the most fuel-efficient commuter car?

The Toyota Prius or Honda Insight. The Prius manages nearly 60 mpg; the Insight gets up to 55 mpg. Nothing else that isn’t all-electric comes close.

What’s the best type of car for commuting?

We’d say a sedan, largely on account of its superior fuel economy. Other perks include the ability to stash valuables in the trunk, their cheaper cost, and their enjoyable driving dynamics.

What’s the cheapest commuter car?

For buying new, the Honda Civic is probably the cheapest good commuter you’ll find. It begins just north of $20,000.

What’s the most luxurious commuter car?

Our vote goes to the Tesla Model S or the Lexus ES. These two cars bring two distinct approaches to luxury - the Tesla is minimalist and sleek, the Lexus is traditional and opulent - but both are unapologetically indulgent.

Is used a good choice for commuter cars?

Absolutely. Buying used lets someone else take the initial depreciation hit on a new car. Snag a used car coming off a three-year lease and you’ll get something that’s nearly new, has plenty of modern features, and will likely provide years of reliable service.