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Top Picks for Commuters

Lower on the corporate ladder are the workaday stiffs, ourselves included. From a pool that included our Best Bets and all the newer cars we've driven since, we considered coupes, sedans, hatchbacks, station wagons, minivans, pickups and SUVs — anything that gets you to the office with a reasonable dose of style and comfort. We pared things down by looking at safety features, gas mileage, reliability and driving comfort.

 Best New Car for Commuters
2014 Volkswagen Passat
Starting MSRP $21,665

Imagine your favorite sofa with four wheels and you'd get an idea of what driving a Volkswagen Passat to work every day feels like. The Passat may not get you there the fastest, or in the most style, but its smooth ride and quiet cabin mean it's easy to walk away from a painful commute and still be in a Zen-like state. Carpoolers will appreciate the Passat's massive backseat, one of the largest this side of an extended-wheelbase luxury sedan, and TDI trims with VW's diesel engine get 40-plus mpg highway ratings.

   
 
 Best Deal for Commuters
2013 Hyundai Elantra
Starting MSRP $17,760

While other compact cars vie to be the sportiest and most fun-to-drive small car, Hyundai's Elantra is the commuter champion with its comfortable ride, budget-friendly price and competitive gas mileage. The Elantra is roomy on the inside with enough tech and comfort to keep you occupied and comfortable during long commutes. A USB/iPod input and satellite radio are included in the Elantra's $17,760 starting price with a six-speed manual transmission and a $795 destination charge. A six-speed automatic transmission changes the price by an additional $1,000, but not the gas mileage of 28/38/32 mpg city/highway/combined.

   
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Suggestions for Commuters
2014 Chevrolet Volt  Recommended for Commuters Chevrolet Volt (2014)
Starting MSRP $34,995

We spent nearly two years commuting in a Chevrolet Volt and grew fond of the high-quality ride and electric-only driving experience. Now, the gas-electric hatchback with an EPA-estimated 38 miles of electric range costs $5,000 less than last year.

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2014 Chrysler 300  Recommended for Commuters Chrysler 300 (2014)
Starting MSRP $31,540

Chrysler's 300 full-size sedan is a commuter with attitude. It's sizable but not a land yacht, with suspension tuning that's sporty and comfortable. An eight-speed automatic transmission and 3.6-liter V-6 are smooth and efficient with EPA ratings of 19/31/23 mpg.

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2014 Honda Accord  Recommended for Commuters Honda Accord (2014)
Starting MSRP $22,785

The Honda Accord's fuel economy was competitive before its 2013 redesign when Honda bumped the four-cylinder's fuel-economy ratings to 27/36/30 mpg with the help of a continuously variable automatic transmission. Generous audio tech includes USB/iPod integration, Pandora internet radio app and Bluetooth streaming audio.

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2013 Honda Civic  Recommended for Commuters Honda Civic (2013)
Starting MSRP $18,755

Like the larger Accord, Honda's compact Civic is loaded with audio tech — standard USB/iPod integration, Pandora internet radio app and Bluetooth streaming audio — to keep commuters' ears happy. Gas mileage is also commuter friendly at 28/39/32 mpg ratings with a five-speed automatic transmission.

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2013 Lexus ES 300h  Recommended for Commuters Lexus ES 300h (2013)
Starting MSRP $40,260

The Lexus ES 300h luxury hybrid demonstrates frugal commuting doesn't have to be pedestrian. Want cooled seats, a panoramic roof and great gas mileage' The ES 300h hybrid has it and a four-cylinder engine paired to electric motors that deliver 40 mpg combined city/highway, a 16 mpg bump over the V-6 ES 350.

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2014 Mazda CX-5  Recommended for Commuters Mazda CX-5 (2014)
Starting MSRP $22,190

The 2014 Mazda CX-5 compact SUV can haul hardware on the weekends and get to work sipping fuel with class-competitive fuel economy. That's dandy, but the CX-5 does all the above while being fun to drive and oozing style.

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2013 Nissan Leaf  Recommended for Commuters Nissan Leaf (2013)
Starting MSRP $29,650

The all-electric Nissan Leaf makes the list for more reasons than simply not using gasoline, though that's a big one. Commuting is easy with a comfortable, quiet ride and a 75-mile EPA-estimated range, plus the natural-feeling brakes are a step up from those on many hybrids and electric vehicles.

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