The Best Cars for Your Commute

Some of the best used commuter cars include the Honda Civic, Toyota Prius, and Chevrolet Volt.
Written by Mary Alice Morris
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Updated on Mar 23, 2023
With the rate of inflation and the price of gas both on the rise, a great way to save money is with a used commuter car. Some of the top picks include the compact Honda Fit, roomy Ford Escape, and hybrid Chevy Volt.
The right car can offer an efficient, economical way to reliably get you to work each day. Of course, you’ll want to do your research to make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck.
Check out this list of some of our top picks for commuters. These cars all get high marks for price, quality, comfort, and safety. 
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2012 Honda Civic

Price: $6,700 to $16,000 MPG: 29 city/41 highway Safety rating: 5 stars
The 2012
Honda Civic
is an old standby on just about every popular car list—and for good reason. It’s reliable, carries Honda’s reputation for quality, and is a top pick among buyers year after year. It’s a compact car with great fuel economy. 
If you’re looking for practicality and fun, the 2012
Civic Si
packs a little more pep than the base model with a six-speed
manual transmission
and 201 horsepower.
  • Pros: Comfortable seating for up to five, available in hybrid or gas options
  • Cons: Very little cargo space

2010 Ford Escape

Price: $5,500 to $9,300 MPG: 22 city/28 highway Safety rating: 5 stars
The 2012
Ford Escape
is a compact crossover SUV that allows more legroom and cargo space while still achieving great gas mileage. You can find it in three
trim levels
with a four-cylinder engine in the base model
and a V6 in the
packages. The 2010 Escape also had a hybrid option available as an XLT or Limited. 
It’s the only SUV on this list, but it earned its spot as an ideal commuter car for anyone who has to haul cargo, kids, or coworkers.
  • Pros: Lots of interior space with room for cargo and seating for five
  • Cons: No third-row seating and a less-than-elegant utilitarian look

2014 Toyota Prius

Price: $12,400 to $16,800 MPG: 51 city/48 highway Safety rating: 4 stars
The 2014
Toyota Prius
is the highest-priced vehicle on this list—but it brings great fuel economy, even by today’s standards. Try to run the Prius on its battery alone, however, and you’ll only last 11 miles, which pales in comparison to modern electric vehicles. 
That said, the 2014 Prius still brings plenty to the table. The Prius has an optional pre-collision system to alert you of a potential crash, seats five, and is still an incredibly efficient vehicle. 
  • Pros: High efficiency, roomy, and carries the Toyota reputation for reliability
  • Cons: Expensive for an eight-year-old car, mixed crash safety results lead to a 4-star rating

2013 Chevrolet Volt

Price: $11,500 to $13,800 MPG: 35 city/40 highway Safety rating: 5 stars
You’ll find a competitive challenger to the Prius with the 2013
Chevy Volt
. The Volt’s fuel economy falls short of the Prius, but its EV range is 38 miles and it brings a better safety rating. Like the Prius, the Volt seats five. 
It may be a small, economical car, but the Volt is well known for its extremely agile handling. It also offers safety features that are comparable to the Prius, with lane-departure warning and forward-collision warning.
  • Pros: Great safety rating, fuel efficiency, and handling
  • Cons: Cramped cargo space

2017 Ford Fiesta

Price: $9,800 to $15,50 MPG: 31 city/41 highway Safety rating: 5 stars
Despite being the newest car on this list, the 2017
Ford Fiesta
is still competitive in its pricing. The sporty little subcompact can seat five people in a tight squeeze, offers great handling, efficient fuel economy, and comfortable front seats. 
While the Fiesta comes is available as a 4-door sedan or a hatchback, neither offers much cargo space. 
  • Pros: Fun to drive, economical
  • Cons: Limited interior space, cramped back seat

2013 Kia Rio

Price: $6,200 to $10,300 MPG: 30 city/37 highway Safety rating: 4 stars
The 2013
Kia Rio
—another five-seater subcompact—comes close to the Fiesta’s fuel efficiency and offers a little more cargo space if you opt for the five-door hatchback. However, the Rio earned just four stars in the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
crash tests because of its frontal crash and rollover performance. 
Still, the Rio has a more elegant interior than some of its competitors, with comfortable front seats for those long commutes. 
  • Pros: Economical, more cargo space than other hatchback subcompacts
  • Cons: Mixed safety ratings

2011 Volkswagen Jetta

Price: $5,200 to $9,900 MPG: 30 city/42 highway Safety rating: 4 stars
The 2011
Volkswagen Jetta
earned a place on this list thanks to its impressive gas mileage and ample passenger and cargo space. It can seat five comfortably—and your stuff can actually fit in the trunk, which is one of the largest in its class.
Before settling on the 2011 Jetta, though, note that Volkswagen faced a massive
of the car due to its diesel engine failing to meet national emissions requirements. Under the terms of the recall, Volkswagen agreed to fix the issue for free on all affected vehicles. Whether the problem was fixed or not had no impact on the car’s safety. 
Pros: Comfortably seats five, lots of cargo space for a compact car
Cons: Emissions defect, less-than-perfect safety rating

2011 Honda Fit

Price: $7,400 to $10,500 MPG: 28 city/35 highway Safety rating: 4 stars
The 2011
Honda Fit
manages to combine the subcompact car with comfortable passenger space and room for cargo, too. The Fit seats five—but when the rear seats aren’t occupied, they can fold and flip to allow extended cargo space. The ability to adjust the back seat in different directions allows bulky or oddly shaped items to fit—hence, the name. 
Pros: Good gas mileage, room for your friends and your stuff
Cons: Mixed-but-good safety ratings—five stars for front occupant crash protection but only four stars for rear passenger-side collision protection

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