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Best commuter cars 2022

Happy businessman fastening seatbelt before his trip by car
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Happy businessman fastening seatbelt before his trip by car
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In 2019, Americans spent an average of 27.6 minutes driving one-way on their commute to work, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. With some quick math, that can equal over four and a half hours in your car for a five-day work week. This makes your ride, the amount your daily commute costs you and available features essential considerations when selecting a new car. With COVID-19 restrictions loosening, and many offices across the country returning to the office, now is a great time to consider how well your vehicle enhances your daily drive.

Our rankings consider expert reviews from Kelley Blue Book (KBB), safety ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), highway fuel economy and price.

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What makes a car good for commuting?

The right car for you and your needs requires you to consider your monthly budget, preferred style and necessary features. When it comes to commuting also heavily weigh the fuel economy and safety features.

Best gas cars for commuting

A traditional gas-powered car comes with a less expensive upfront cost, can perform better at higher speeds and carries a higher resale value. But when shopping for a gas-powered vehicle for your daily commute it is wise to pay special attention to fuel efficiency and available safety features.

2022 Honda Civic

A red 2022 Honda Civic driving through the city
Courtesy of Honda

As one of the best-selling passenger cars in the U.S., you are likely to come across a Honda Civic or two on your commute. The 2022 Honda Civic boasts a 9-inch infotainment display perfect for managing morning traffic patterns. Along with this, available driver-assistance features include blind-spot monitoring, heated exterior mirrors and a power sunroof can enhance your daily commute.

  • Vehicle price: from $22,550
  • KBB expert rating: 4.7
  • NHTSA safety rating: 5
  • Distance: 40 highway mpg

Our score: 4.5

2022 Nissan Versa SV

A black 2022 Nissan Versa parked in front of a brick building
Courtesy of Nissan

Another great budget-friendly sedan for your daily commute is the Nissan Versa SV. The 2022 model comes outfitted with comfortable seats and intelligent cruise control. While the technology and power are not the highest available, the price makes the Versa a great choice for drivers hoping to not break the bank.

  • Vehicle price: from $18,390
  • KBB expert rating: 4.2
  • NHTSA safety rating: 5
  • Distance: 40 highway mpg

Our score: 4.3

Best electric cars for commuting

Interest in driving an electric vehicle has recently grown and, in turn, the available market has expanded. It’s estimated to grow to 26.8 million vehicles globally by 2030, according to S&P Global. Choosing an EV for your commute may carry a higher upfront cost but can save you money in the long run. Besides the obvious avoidance of the gas station, you will also save money at the mechanic for oil changes and basic inspections.

2022 Tesla Model 3

A blue 2022 Tesla Model 3 driving down the highway
Courtesy of Tesla

The Tesla serves as one of the most recognizable electric vehicles and ranks high in Bankrate’s list for commuter vehicles due to its perfect safety rating and outstanding fuel economy. The Model 3 has a premium interior experience and its standard Autopilot can greatly enhance your ride to work.

If the price is out of your budget, consider checking out EV Life or other green auto loan options that will connect you with available incentives.

  • Vehicle price: from $46,990
  • KBB expert rating: 4.2
  • NHTSA safety rating: 5
  • Distance: 126 highway mpg equivalent

Our score: 4

2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV

A gray 2022 Chevrolet Bolt parked in front of a coastal home
Courtesy of Chevrolet

With a more approachable upfront price tag, the Bolt scores for its competitive fuel economy and high KBB expert rating. The 2022 model has an expanded back seat perfect for carpooling and comes equipped with necessary charging cords. Similar to the Tesla, the Bolt’s technology enhances daily driving with its “super cruise” hands-free drive assist tech.

  • Vehicle price: from $33,500
  • KBB expert rating: 4.6
  • NHTSA safety rating: Not rated
  • Distance: 104 highway mpg equivalent

Our score: 3.8

Best hybrid cars for commuting

If fuel efficiency is a top priority but you are not ready to make the shift to a fully electric vehicle, driving a hybrid is a great way to save money at the pump while reducing range anxiety.

2022 Toyota Prius

A black 2022 Toyota Prius parked in front of a black smoky backdrop
Courtesy of Toyota

Similar to the Tesla, the Prius is one of the most well-known climate-conscious vehicles on the market — and it’s great for commuting. The 2022 hatchback model is spacious and comes with helpful standard tech. These features include Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control — all essential for a daily drive.

  • Vehicle price: from $25,075
  • KBB expert rating: 4.4
  • NHTSA safety rating: 5
  • Distance: 50 highway mpg

Our score: 4

2022 Toyota Corolla Hybrid

A white 2022 Toyota Corolla Hybrid driving through the city
Courtesy of Toyota

The other best-in-class winner for hybrid vehicles is the 2022 Toyota Corolla Hybrid. While this has the same Bankrate score of 4, it also carries a perfect safety rating and impressive fuel economy. The comfortable size combined with Toyota’s recognizable reliability makes the Corolla Hybrid a great addition to your daily commute.

  • Vehicle price: from $24,050
  • KBB expert rating: 4.4
  • NHTSA safety rating: 5
  • Distance: 52 highway mpg

Our score: 4

Best SUVs for commuting

If you are looking for a more spacious vehicle to drive in the HOV lane, consider Bankrate’s picks for best SUVs for commuting. While it is true that available fuel economy for SUVs tends to be lower than other vehicle styles, these two options still rank high in other categories and land much higher in highway miles per gallon than their competitors.

2022 Kia Soul

A red 2022 Kia Soul driving through the desert
Courtesy of Kia

Recognized for its playful advertisements, the 2022 Kia Soul has impressive tech and a spacious cabin compared to its midsize SUV competitors. All 2022 models except the base LX model come equipped with a 10.3-inch infotainment display perfect for navigation to and from the office. Along with this, the Soul has lane assist and blind-spot monitoring available in its technology package.

  • Vehicle price: from $19,290
  • KBB expert rating: 4.4
  • NHTSA safety rating: 4
  • Distance: 33 highway mpg

Our score: 4

2022 Nissan Rogue

A silver 2022 Nissan Rogue driving down a winding road
Courtesy of Nissan

Larger than its winning companion, the 2022 Nissan Rogue has intuitive tech features and a very smooth ride. For its size, its available fuel economy of close to 40 mpg makes it the company’s top-selling vehicle. The 2022 model also introduced a brand new engine that advanced the power and torque of the vehicle, while still keeping it accessible in the standard gas category.

  • Vehicle price: from $27,150
  • KBB expert rating: 4.4
  • NHTSA safety rating: 4
  • Distance: 37 highway mpg

Our score: 3.8

Best luxury cars for commuting

If you are willing to spend a bit more money to make your ride to and from the office something to look forward to consider Bankrate’s winning luxury commuter vehicles. The two winners offer a luxurious interior and a fun driving experience.

2022 Lexus UX

A green 2022 Lexus UX driving under a bridge in the city
Courtesy of Lexus

The subcompact nature of the 2022 Lexus UX makes it sleek while still being roomy enough to weather long daily driving habits. The premium price tag also means advanced features, such as a large infotainment system with phone connectivity, wireless charging and built-in navigation. Available tech also keeps you safe on the road with blind-spot monitoring and a lane-departure warning system.

  • Vehicle price: from $33,450
  • KBB expert rating: 4
  • NHTSA safety rating: 5
  • Distance: 37 highway mpg

Our score: 4

2022 BMW 2 Series

A white 2022 BMW 2 Series driving down the highway against a mountainous backdrop
Courtesy of BMW

Our final pick for the best luxury commuter vehicle is the 2022 BMW 2 series, the sleek coupe body makes it fun to drive while still easy to maneuver. This car is best for a driver who will likely be driving solo and not with many passengers, due to its tight backseat.

  • Vehicle price: from $35,700
  • KBB expert rating: 4.5
  • NHTSA safety rating: not rated
  • Distance: 35 highway mpg

Our score: 3.5

Methodology

To determine the best vehicles for commuting Bankrate considered four main aspects, highway fuel economy, Kelley Blue Book’s expert rating, NHTSA’s safety rating and the price. From these factors custom scores were developed for each category. A total of 50 cars were considered across categories.

Fuel efficiency

When it comes to commuting, fuel efficiency is the top priority. If considering electric vehicles it is important to understand the vehicle’s range and available charging stations on your commute. Although EVs and hybrids cost less to fill up, factor in your driving needs before switching over to electric.

Price

While the cost of vehicles ranges by make and style, vehicles considered had MSRPs of no greater than $60,000, in line with current vehicle trends. The out-the-door price you will be met with may slightly differ from our number depending on features selected and where you get the vehicle.

Driving features

Our winners were scored based on each vehicle’s NHTSA rating. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives ratings based on front crash, side barrier crash, side pole crash and rollover resistance testing. The NHTSA also considers driver assistance technologies, which many of our winners had in its base models.

Additional considerations

Outside of the gas station, initial vehicle cost and the choice between technology options, vehicle ownership requires some other considerations. Costs associated with your new set of wheels can add up to thousands so factor how insurance, impending depreciation and the option to lease come into play.

Cost to insure

While one’s insurance rates are based on factors like the type of vehicle, state and driving habits, the use of the vehicle can impact the type of insurance and premiums you must pay. When insuring your vehicle consider the use when working to find the best rate.

Resale value

While you will be in love with your vehicle when driving off the lot, it is likely that down the road you may want to sell your car for a newer model. While it is true that all vehicles depreciate — some more than others, knowing how much yours will help you financially prepare. To find this number use Kelley Blue Book or similar tools.

Leasing options

For some drivers leasing a vehicle for the daily drive to work may be a smart option. Leasing can mean a more affordable monthly payment and the option to drive a more expensive vehicle. But leasing does come with added restrictions on how many miles you can log. So if you have a long commute leasing might not be the best option.

The bottom line

American drivers can spend over $700 each month just on their commute to and from work, according to data from Clever Real Estate. This price can be lowered if you shop smart and consider a vehicle’s price, fuel economy, safety features and cost to insure before heading to the dealership. And as with any car purchase be sure to compare different auto loan rates before signing off.

Written by
Rebecca Betterton
Auto Loans Reporter
Rebecca Betterton is the auto loans reporter for Bankrate. She specializes in assisting readers in navigating the ins and outs of securely borrowing money to purchase a car.
Edited by
Auto loans editor