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5 Best Commuter Cars for 2021 (for Every Situation)

Best Commuter Cars

Best Commuter Cars

An unreliable and uncomfortable car can make the daily commute even more frustrating.

You can alleviate some of the stress by having a car with solid comfort features, good mileage, and high-reliability ratings.

Our list of commuter cars highlights why some vehicles are exceptionally good at real-world commuting duties.

Read about how we rank our cars >>

1. Chevrolet Bolt Battery-Electric Vehicle (Best Cost of Ownership)

2020 Chevrolet Bolt EVThe Chevrolet Bolt battery-electric vehicle launched in 2016 to great fanfare. GM’s first mainstream BEV earned awards and turned heads. Reviewers loved the Bolt and found it fun to drive in point-and-shoot urban commuting. However, The Chevy Bolt’s incredible ownership costs are why it is number one on our list of unique commuter cars.

Although the Chevy Bolt has an MSRP that would exclude it from many budgets, nobody pays the sticker price for this car in 2021. GM has discounts for the Bolt approaching $20,000 in many areas. In New England, Bolts are listed on the Drivegreen Website with new costs of under $18K after state EV rebates.

Also, the Bolt has an extremely low energy cost per mile. Since it only uses electricity, the Bolt’s efficiency rating is a whopping 118 MPGe. This vehicle will save its owner $650 each year in energy costs compared to a Toyota Corolla.

Electric vehicles also have a low cost for repair and maintenance. A Consumer Reports study shows that EVs have a cost for repairs and maintenance half that of traditional gas-powered cars. The Chevy Bolt combines a low entry price with class-leading cost savings for maintenance and energy. Consumers who want to keep their commuting costs as low as possible need to look no further.

Current Chevrolet Bolt EV Deals & Incentives

YearMakeModelCash Incentives (up to)Best Avail. APRLease OffersExpiration
2020ChevroletBolt EV$9,000 $199/month for 36 months, $2,119 due at signing6/30/2021
2021ChevroletBolt EV$9,000 $214/month for 36 months, $214 due at signing6/30/2021

You may qualify for additional deals and incentives, check out this month's Chevrolet deals here.

2. Toyota Prius Prime (Best Parking Spot)

Toyota Prius PrimeAre you looking for the commuting benefits of a battery-electric vehicle but with no range anxiety? The Toyota Prius Prime is the solution. With a 25-mile range using only electricity, it can handle many commuters’ daily needs without burning any gas.

After the electricity runs out, the Prius Prime is a 50 MPG fuel-sipping hybrid with a cost of ownership that rivals the Chevy Bolt at the top of our list. And there is another benefit. If your company offers EV charging, you can take advantage of that free juice and enjoy a parking space close to the front door.

3. Honda Civic Hatchback (More Weekend Fun Than Commuters Expect)

Honda Civic HatchbackLooking for a commuter car that can double as a sporty vehicle for weekend getaways? The Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring is your pick. The Civic is excellent in all its trims, but the hatchback is the gem of the lineup.

The Civic Hatchback Sport Touring is available with a six-speed manual or automatic CVT transmission complete with paddle shifters. With its turbocharged 180 hp engine, this is a quick car to drive in any situation, but it still earns a 32 MPG EPA-estimated Combined rating.

Why the hatchback? Simply because it looks cool is reason enough, but the Hatchback Civic features 42 cubic feet of cargo volume with its rear seats folded. By comparison, the sedan offers 15 cu ft.

Other available features of the Civic Hatchback include a premium audio system, Honda Sensing driver-assist technology. The Civic even earns the IIHS Top Safety Pick Award.

Current Honda Civic Hatchback Deals & Incentives

YearMakeModelCash Incentives (up to)Best Avail. APRLease OffersExpiration
2021HondaCivic Hatchback

You may qualify for additional deals and incentives, check out this month's Honda deals here.

4. Hyundai Elantra (The Technology Leader)

2020 Hyundai ElantraIf you like your commuter car to have the latest technology, the wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay standard in all 2021 Hyundai Elantra cars will bring a smile. Not only has a AAA study proven that these smart device integration systems can be less distracting, but this included technology also eliminates the need for pricey built-in navigation. For 2021, the Elantra cuts the cord, making this technology user-friendly.

The Elantra also features an available 10.25-inch infotainment screen, dynamic voice recognition, a wireless phone charger, stop and go adaptive cruise control and Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist w/ Pedestrian, Cyclist, and Junction-Turning Detection. The new Elantra packs the same level of technology we would expect in a premium European touring car.

The 2021 Hyundai Elantra recently earned the North American Car of the Year award. Combine this award with Hyundai topping many recent reliability surveys, and the Elantra is a smart pick for any commuter.

Current Hyundai Elantra Deals & Incentives

YearMakeModelCash Incentives (up to)Best Avail. APRLease OffersExpiration
2021HyundaiElantra$3,000 0.00%$159/month for 36 months, $2,899 due at signing6/1/2021

You may qualify for additional deals and incentives, check out this month's Hyundai deals here.

5. Toyota RAV4 Hybrid (The Whole Package)

2020 Toyota RAV4 HybridMuch of our list consists of conventional small cars, the mainstay of commuters. However, some commuters may also need an all-wheel-drive crossover without a fuel economy penalty. The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is the answer.

Toyota’s RAV4 is a platform with many duties. One of which is commuting. With a 40 MPH EPA-Estimated rating, the RAV4 Hybrid tops both the Civic and Elantra in fuel costs. Yes, the RAV4 Hybrid will cost a bit more than the base trims of the cars on this list, but it can fill dual roles in a family. That can save money for working parents who want a crossover and need a low cost per mile for their daily commute.

The RAV4 Hybrid also adds Toyota’s legendary reliability and an IIHS Top Safety Pick rating. The combination of all-wheel drive, 40 MPG, and the flexibility that a crossover offers has made the RAV4 Hybrid America’s top-selling hybrid vehicle. Unlike many previous hybrid designs, the RAV4 Hybrid also packs a robust 219 hp. Those commuters who need one vehicle to fill all possible family roles will find the RAV4 Hybrid is hard to top.

Current Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Deals & Incentives

YearMakeModelCash Incentives (up to)Best Avail. APRLease OffersExpiration
2021ToyotaRAV4 Hybrid

You may qualify for additional deals and incentives, check out this month's Toyota deals here.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a commuter car?

A commuter car is one that you use on daily basis, traditionally to get to and from work. It is typically driven for moderate to long distances, so it should have good gas mileage and be a comfortable overall ride.

What is the best commuter car?

Some of our picks for the best commuter cars include the Chevrolet Bolt EV, Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, and Toyota Prius Prime.

What makes a good commuter car?

You want to look for a vehicle with great gas mileage, reliable ratings (to reduce maintenance costs), comfortable seating, and a car with a solid set of comfort, safety, and technology features.