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12 Best Commuter Cars On The 2022 Used Market

8-minute readUPDATED: December 12, 2022


Table Of Contents

    When shopping for a good commuter car, reliability, fuel efficiency and passenger capacity are all important considerations. This guide covers the best commuter cars on the used market in 2022 and what you should consider when looking for one.

    The best car for you depends on a variety of factors, including its primary use, your lifestyle and your family’s needs.

    What Is A Commuter Car?

    The term commuter car comes from car insurance underwriting, a process that assesses the risk of insuring a driver and their vehicle. If you put substantial mileage on your car each year due to work and family obligations, it’s considered a commuter vehicle in the eyes of insurance companies. The term has since been adopted by the general public and refers to good cars for long commutes.

    Best Commuter Use By Type Of Car

    That said, a commuter car is defined based on its use rather than its body type, powertrain or any other qualities of a vehicle. Let’s take a look at how each type of car is best used for commuting.

    Sedans: Sedans are especially useful for city driving, given their smaller size makes for easier parking. They’re often more fuel-efficient than other types of cars.

    Crossovers: Crossovers are a step between a sedan and a sports utility vehicle (SUV). They offer a balance of space and function without sacrificing as much fuel economy as an SUV. Crossovers are great for commutes that require more cargo capacity and a few extra passengers.

    SUVs: SUVs are ideal if you have a large family, take long road trips or need some sort of towing capacity. They offer more powerful engines and plenty of passenger space at the sacrifice of fuel economy.

    Minivans: Minivans are ideal for daily family drivers or single adults that haul cargo frequently. They’re also a more fuel-efficient option over an SUV if you plan to hit the open road. Minivans are known for prioritizing an infotainment system that will keep a family comfortable and entertained.

    What Matters Most For Commuter Cars

    As you shop for commuter cars, be sure to consider fuel efficiency, safety features and reliability ratings into your decision.

    Fuel Efficiency

    A good MPG rating on a gas combustion engine car may be 26 – 33 mpg combined. Hybrids and electric vehicles can give you upwards of 90 MPGe, which is an equivalent based on the cost of the electricity to power them. 

    With an electric vehicle (EV), you can power your commutes entirely with electricity rather than gas, so long as you choose a vehicle with more than enough driving range. That said, hybrids are a safe bet because they can switch over to a gas-powered engine when the charge is low, providing greater range and reliability when a charging station is not in reach. What’s best for you depends on your commute distance. 

    Driver Aides, Safety And Crash Test Performance

    Safety should be one of your top priorities when shopping for commuter cars as you spend more time on the road. Be sure to look up the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) safety rating for any car you’re considering. Other important safety features include:

    • Forward collision alert
    • Blind-spot detection
    • Rear-view cameras
    • Lane-keeping assistance
    • Emergency braking assistance

    Reliability And Warranty

    New cars nearly always come with a manufacturer’s 3- to 5-year warranty, but some manufacturers offer 10-year, 100,000-mile warranties. Lightly used vehicles will often still have a manufacturer’s warranty on it.

    The Best Commuter Cars

    We based our picks for the best commuter cars on the used market based on a number of factors including fuel efficiency, driver aides and reliability. Then, we referenced and compiled key insights and lauded features for each vehicle from real-world users of EVs, automotive journalists, and industry experts, such as IIHS Safety, NHTSA, U.S. News and World Report and Kelley Blue Book.

    Now, let’s take a look at the top rated cars best used for commuting on the used market.

    12. Toyota Sienna

    Best for: Large Families

    MPG: 36 MPG city | 36 MPG highway

    Type of car: Minivan

    The Toyota Sienna offers competitive fuel economy along with an extensive array of options to choose from, including a power lift gate and sliding side door, rearview camera, multiple power adapters, entertainment system and USB ports. This is an ideal commuter car for people with families that value reliability and function in a vehicle that’s going to see a lot of mileage. It comes with a 5-star safety rating from the IIHS.

    11. Kia Soul

    Best for: City street handling

    MPG: 27 MPG city | 32 MPG highway 

    Type of car: Subcompact SUV 

    The Kia Soul is an affordable SUV that boasts a 4-star safety rating by the NHTSA. It’s known for its tight turning radius, making it a good option for maneuvering around congested city streets. Its best features include a connective infotainment system, an impressive array of safety technologies and a premium sound system. With available advanced safety features like lane departure warning, electronic stability control, forward collision avoidance and rearview camera, it offers peace of mine for everyone from single commuters to small families.  

    10. Subaru Forester 

    Best for: Safety technology

    MPG: 23 MPG city | 33 MPG highway 

    Type of car: SUV 

    Subarus are known for their reliability and extensive safety features, making them great cars for families. The Subaru Forester has a perfect 5-star safety rating from the NHTSA due to its available lane departure prevention system, blind-spot detection, front and rear collision mitigation, stability control and driver awareness technology that alerts fatigued or distracted drivers. The Forester comes with standard all-wheel drive and performs well off-road, making it ideal if you want to take the occasional outdoor vacation. 

    9. Honda Accord 

    Best for: Comfort

    MPG: 30 MPG city | 38 MPG highway 

    Type of car: Sedan 

    The Honda Accord is a great commuter for single adults or people who don’t have a large family. If you do a lot of highway driving, Accord is able to extend your distance between fill-ups with an impressive 38 mpg on the highway. Accord has been honed by decades of competition and boasts impressive reliability scores, with a perfect 5-star safety rating from the NHTSA. It also comes with a large range of comfort features to choose from, including heated seats, satellite radio, push-button start, premium sound, a connective infotainment system and a USB port to charge your devices.

    8. Toyota Prius 

    Best for: City safety

    MPG: 52 MPG city | 47 MPG highway 

    Type of car: Sedan 

    Powertrain: Hybrid 

    If fuel economy is one of your top priorities, the Toyota Prius doesn’t disappoint. It’s an ideal commuter car if you have a long way to go and are looking for a smaller vehicle. Its reliability scores are good, with a good safety rating from the IIHS and a 5-star crash rating from the NHTSA. With available all-wheel drive, the Prius can handle wet and cold conditions, and it boasts blind-spot monitoring, forward collision mitigation, road sign assist, and lane departure warning.

    7. Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid 

    Best for: Fuel economy

    MPG: 55 MPG city | 54 MPG highway 

    Type of car: Sedan 

    Powertrain: Hybrid 

    The Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid offers reliability and economy in a stylish package. The Ioniq’s fuel economy tops the charts for a hybrid on our list, making it ideal for long commutes or those who love a good road trip. Its available rear traffic alert, lane departure warning, brake assist and autonomous emergency braking systems have earned it a perfect safety rating by the IIHs. It also boasts a 5-star crash rating from Euro NCAP.

    6. Chevrolet Spark 

    Best for: Budget-conscious commuters

    MPG: 30 MPG city | 38 MPG highway 

    Type of car: Sedan 

    The Chevrolet Spark is almost custom-built for single drivers with urban commutes. It offers impressive fuel economy at an incredibly low price point. Despite its very low profile, the Spark received a good safety rating from the IIHS. This is due to its emergency brake assist, hill start assist and stability control system. The Spark also comes in a fully electric model: the Spark EV.  

    5. Chrysler Pacifica 

    Best for: Entertaining the family

    MPG: 19 MPG city | 28 MPG highway 

    Type of car: Minivan 

    The Chrysler Pacifica is built for families and offers an extensive array of options to keep children entertained, haul cargo and help you manage the daily commute to work, school and extracurricular activities. It offers two outlets to keep devices charged, a rear-seat entertainment package, an infotainment center, heated seats, a heated steering wheel and satellite radio among its many amenities. The Pacifica is a safe commuter car with a 5-star crash rating from the NHTSA. 

    4. Ford Escape 

    Best or: Seat versatility

    MPG: 26 city | 31 highway 

    Type of car: SUV 

    The Ford Escape is sleek, stylish and reliable. With available all-wheel drive, it’s a great commuter car for anyone living in a wet or cold climate, and it offers plenty of cargo and passenger space for a small family. In fact, the second row has sliding seats that allow you to gain 40.7 inches of legroom or to add more cargo space.

    The Escape received a 5-star safety rating from the NHTSA and offers lane-keeping assist, automatic emergency braking, a driver’s knee airbag, a rearview camera and an audio volume limiter. All of these superior safety features can give you peace of mind if you are letting a new teenage driver in your family behind the wheel. 

    3. Mazda CX-30 

    Best for: All-weather driving

    MPG: 24 MPG city | 31 MPG highway 

    Type of car: SUV 

    The Mazda CX-30 turns heads with its stylish curves and doesn’t feel like an average SUV. It comes with comfy seats, a connective infotainment system and added cargo space for the urbanite who likes to get away every now and then. Compared to the Escape, it has a tighter turning radius and more powerful engine.

    The CX-30 has a 5-star crash rating with the NHTSA, and its all-wheel drive and driver-assistive technologies keep you safe in all weather conditions. With the driver monitoring alert, blind-spot detection, lane keep assist and lane departure warning, it keeps you safe and focused behind the wheel. 

    2. Ford Mustang Mach-E 

    Best for: Short commutes

    MPG: 108 MPGe city | 94 MPGe highway 

    Type of car: SUV 

    Powertrain: Electric 

    The Ford Mustang Mach-E's responsive performance, sleek design and sporty handling make you forget that you’re in an electric vehicle. With a range of 305 miles, it’s a great commuter car for a driver with a longer stop-and-go commute who wants to save big bucks on fuel.

    It’s also quite safe, with a good safety rating by the IIHS. Its many comfort features and technology make it a high-end option for the sports car enthusiast who’s conscious of their carbon footprint. 

    1. Toyota Camry 

    Best for: Highway driving

    MPG: 28 MPG city | 39 MPG highway 

    Type of car: Sedan 

    The Toyota Camry has earned a reputation for reliability and fuel efficiency with a highway fuel rating of 39 mpg. It’s a great commuter car if you do most of your driving on the highway, as it boasts a fuel range over 450 miles on a single tank of gas. The Camry was also an IIHS Top Safety Pick. 

    The Bottom Line: Evaluate Your Needs

    The average gas price has risen from $2.31 per gallon to over $3.30 in the last year. For many commuters, fuel economy is a priority when shopping for their next car, but make sure that you don’t trade fuel efficiency for your other pressing needs when looking for a car. Safety, amenities and warranties are equally important when trying to reduce your cost of ownership, and any of the cars on this list will tick all of those boxes.