Key takeaways

  • The average American spent nearly an hour each workday commuting in 2022.
  • Our top pick commuter cars offer comfort, safety and fuel efficiency.
  • A growing number of increasingly affordable EVs and hybrids can make your commute greener.

In 2022, Americans spent an average of 26.4 minutes driving one-way on their commute to work, according to the most recent data from U.S. Census Bureau. That adds up to around four and a half hours in your car for a five-day workweek. This makes your ride, the amount your daily commute costs you and available features essential considerations when selecting a new car.

Finding the right car for you and your needs requires you to consider your monthly budget, preferred style and necessary features. For a commuter car, the fuel economy and safety features are also important.

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.

Best gas cars for commuting

A traditional gas-powered car comes with a less expensive upfront cost 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.

2023 Honda Civic

Courtesy of Honda

Topping our list for the second year in a row, the Honda Civic is one of the best-selling passenger cars in the U.S. The 2023 Civic boasts a 7-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.

  • Vehicle price: from $23,750
  • KBB expert rating: 4.7/5
  • NHTSA safety rating: 5/5
  • Fuel economy: 36 combined mpg
  • Our score: 4.5/5

2022 Nissan Sentra

Courtesy of Nissan

The Nissan Sentra is another great budget-friendly sedan for your daily commute. The 2022 model is the least expensive on our list but still comes outfitted with ergonomic seats and intelligent cruise control. While the technology and power are not the highest available, the price makes the Sentra an excellent choice for drivers hoping not to break the bank.

  • Vehicle price: from $19,950
  • KBB expert rating: 4.1/5
  • NHTSA safety rating: 5/5
  • Fuel economy: 33 combined mpg
  • Our score: 3.8/5

Best electric cars for commuting

Interest in driving electric vehicles is growing. Around one in 10 cars sold in 2023 was an EV, according to EV Hub. Choosing an EV for your commute may carry a higher upfront cost but can save you money in the long run. Besides avoiding the gas station, you will save money at the mechanic for oil changes and basic inspections.

2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV

Courtesy of Chevrolet

With an approachable price tag, the Bolt ranks 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. The Bolt’s technology enhances daily driving with its “super cruise” hands-free drive assist tech — though you must pay extra for that feature.

  • Vehicle price: $33,500
  • KBB expert rating: 4.6/5
  • NHTSA safety rating: 5/5
  • Fuel economy: 115 combined miles per gallon of gasoline equivalent (mpge); 247-mile range
  • Our score: 4/5

2023 Hyundai Kona Electric

Courtesy of Hyundai

The Hyundai Kona is a sleek option for drivers who prefer a small crossover style. The vehicle has built-in navigation on a 10.3-inch display standard in both the SEL and Limited models. The long vehicle range combined with the competitive price is a great option for those looking to drive green to work.

  • Vehicle price: $33,550
  • KBB expert rating: 4.1/5
  • NHTSA safety rating: 5/5
  • Fuel economy: 120 combined mpge; 258-mile range
  • Our score: 4/5

Best hybrid cars for commuting

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

2023 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid

Courtesy of Hyundai

The 2023 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid offers competitive fuel economy at a manageable price. The vehicle scores high for both safety and overall driving performance. New technology in the 2023 model, like a wireless charging pad and heated mirrors, makes for an enjoyable ride to and from the office.

  • Vehicle price: $25,665
  • KBB expert rating: 4.6/5
  • NHTSA safety rating: 5/5
  • Fuel economy: 50 combined mpg; 550-mile range
  • Our score: 4.3/5

2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid

Courtesy of Toyota

Winning for its second consecutive year, the Toyota Corolla Hybrid also carries a perfect safety rating. It offers a comfortable size combined with Toyota’s recognizable reliability. It comes with a suite of driver assistance features, including adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking, that could make stop-and-go traffic more bearable.

  • Vehicle price: $22,800
  • KBB expert rating: 4.4/5
  • NHTSA safety rating: 5/5
  • Fuel economy: 47 combined mpg; 570-mile range
  • Our score: 3.8/5

Best SUVs for commuting

If you want more space, consider Bankrate’s picks for the best SUVs for commuting. While SUVs’ fuel economy tends to be lower than other vehicle styles, these two options rank well in other categories and boast higher fuel efficiency than competitors.

2023 Honda CR-V

Courtesy of Honda

The compact 2023 Honda CR-V is in its 6th generation and comes with competitive gas mileage and new features. Responsive handling, comfortable seats and lane-keeping assistance bring ease to the daily drive. The backseat boasts reclining seats, a perk that carpoolers will especially appreciate.

  • Vehicle price: $28,410
  • KBB expert rating: 4.8/5
  • NHTSA safety rating: Not rated; the 2022 model received 5/5
  • Fuel economy: 40 combined mpg
  • Our score: 3.8/5

2024 Toyota Venza

Courtesy of Toyota

The midsize 2024 Toyota Venza, a hybrid, offers drivers a comfortable experience with the perk of compact parking. The driver enjoys a 12.3-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Its perfect safety score pushes it over the edge in the SUV category.

  • Vehicle price: $33,595
  • KBB expert rating: 4.4/5
  • NHTSA safety rating: 5/5
  • Fuel economy: 39 combined mpg
  • Our score: 3.8/5

Best luxury cars for commuting

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

2023 Volvo XC60

Courtesy of Volvo

Recognized for its sleek appearance, the 2023 Volvo XC60 has a minimalist interior outfitted with a Google entertainment interface. The extra cost of the Plus trim comes with fancier interior leather, rear parking sensors and a 360-degree camera.

  • Vehicle price: $43,450
  • KBB expert rating: 4.4/5
  • NHTSA safety rating: 5/5
  • Fuel economy: 26 combined mpg
  • Our score: 3.5/5

2023 Acura RDX

Courtesy of Acura

With a slightly lower price tag than the Volvo, the 2023 Acura RDX offers a fun drive, spacious interior and high safety marks. The standard trim comes with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a Wi-Fi hotspot, perfect for moments stuck in traffic.

  • Vehicle price: $41,550
  • KBB expert rating: 4.6/5
  • NHTSA safety rating: 5/5
  • Fuel economy: 24 combined mpg
  • Our score: 3.8/5


To determine the best vehicles for commuting, Bankrate considered four main aspects: combined fuel economy, Kelley Blue Book’s expert rating, NHTSA’s safety rating and 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. When considering electric vehicles, it is important to understand the vehicle’s range and whether you can charge up at work. Although EVs and hybrids cost less to fill up, factor in your driving needs before switching over to electric.


While higher-priced luxury options exist, we only considered cars with an MSRP under $60,000. The out-the-door price you will be met with may slightly differ from our number depending on the 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 in insurance and depreciation.

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, understand that you may

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 can 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. If you have a long commute, leasing might not be the best option.

The bottom line

American drivers spend an average of $8,189 each year 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.