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Best Cars for Commuters 2017

By Joe Bruzek
January 3, 2017
img1033988096 1478882006651 jpg 2017 Subaru Outback | photo by Evan Sears

Best Car for Commuters

Workaday stiffs need reliable cars that offer comfort and good mileage. We pick from coupes, sedans, hatches, wagons, minivans, pickups and SUVs.

A great commuter is worried about more than just fuel economy. The Outback makes quick work of city driving with its supreme maneuverability and tight turning circle, especially compared with competing mid-size SUVs. Fuel economy is still pretty good at an EPA-rated 25/32/28 mpg city/highway/combined, even with standard all-wheel drive that's capable of tackling slippery roads on the way to work. And with wagon utility, the Outback doubles as a family ride. The optional EyeSight safety system has forward collision warning with automatic braking plus an alert when the car ahead in traffic or at a stoplight starts moving.

img1493321242 1478883479807 jpg 2017 Subaru Crosstrek | Manufacturer image

Best Deal for Commuters

The Crosstrek excels as a commuter for many of the same reasons as the Outback. Its ride quality isn't punishing, and improvements to quiet wind and road noise have made the Crosstrek much more pleasant to drive than when it debuted. The higher ride height, compared with an Impreza hatchback, creates a seating position with much better visibility. Like the Outback, the Crosstrek's optional EyeSight precollision system is loaded with important features including lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control and rear cross-traffic alert. Budget-minded car poolers will also appreciate the Crosstrek's roominess for its $22,570 starting price (includes destination) with a spacious backseat.

img1448516757 1478892839915 jpg 2016 BMW 750i | photo by Evan Sears

Recommended for Commuters

The 7 Series takes the pain out of commuting by kind of driving itself. BMW's semiautonomous technology in the 7 Series is one of the most seamless driving assistance systems we've tested. At highway speeds, a 7 Series with the optional Active Driving Assistant uses cameras and radar to sense road lines and applies steering assistance to follow the lane and vehicle ahead. In stop-and-go traffic, the system paces traffic and can bring the sedan to a complete stop before resuming driving automatically when traffic starts flowing. Not hurting the 7 Series' case as a commuter is its supreme luxuriousness, near-silent road and wind noise, and comfy ride.

img765619601 1478902118948 jpg 2016 Chevrolet Impala; | Ma

Recommended for Commuters

The Impala has the quietness and comfort of a luxury car with a much more affordable price tag. It's not particularly fuel efficient, but it excels when you have to spend a great deal of time in the car, as we did for a year slogging through Chicago's heavy traffic in our long-term test Impala. The optional Bose stereo is sure to bring a bright spot in the worst commute, and with standard Apple CarPlay, it's easy to pipe your favorite political podcast and sports news apps through the stereo.

img 586301984 1478892063502 jpg 2017 Ford Fusion Hybrid | photo by Brian Wong

Recommended for Commuters

The Fusion Hybrid's greatest strength is that it doesn't drive like most hybrids. Refined ride quality and a quiet engine that make the Fusion Hybrid so pleasant to drive aren't common traits of mid-size sedan hybrids. The engine doesn't harshly shut off or turn on in traffic and the transition as the gasoline engine ramps up is near seamless. When it comes to ending your commute, the Fusion simplifies parking with an optional parking assist that steers itself into a parallel parking space.

img1526130614 1478892468468 jpg 2017 Kia Optima | Manufacturer image

Recommended for Commuters

The mid-size sedan class is a cutthroat collection and the Optima spans from frugal to sporty with its engine lineup. Efficiency-minded folk will want to check out the turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder with its impressive ratings of 28/37/31 mpg city/highway/combined, which it accomplishes without the typical sap in acceleration from many economy-oriented packages. The 1.6-liter pairs with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that could use refining, but the pair's fuel economy speaks for itself. City commuters will appreciate the Optima's optional 360-degree camera that gives a top-down view of the car to make parallel and close-quarter parking a breeze.

img 1058705578 1478891955929 jpg 2017 Nissan Murano | photo by Evan Sears

Recommended for Commuters

The Murano won's 2016 Midsize SUV Challenge thanks to luxuriousness that's off the chart for the money and comfort that has the meter pegged as well. Sitting in the soft leather seats is like plopping your butt on a worn-in family-room recliner but with heated and ventilated cushioning. The Murano's suspension pairs perfectly with the seating comfort and absorbs bumps quietly with the suppleness of a luxury car.

img 191244492 1478881913666 jpg 2017 Nissan Rogue | Manufacturer image

Recommended for Commuters

Much like its bigger brother Murano, the Rogue is the epitome of comfort for the class. Similar seats using Nissan's "zero-gravity" technology are suited for spending a lot of time in the SUV. The Rogue has standard seating for five and optional seating for seven, though those extra two people will need to be tiny considering the dinky size of the optional third row. Regardless, the Rogue's people-carrying ability is uncommon in the compact SUV class, as is the available 360-degree parking camera for top-down views of the Rogue that lets you park in the tightest of spots with confidence.

img1643257448 1478886182158 jpg 2017 Toyota Highlander Hybrid | photo by Brian Wong

Recommended for Commuters

Hybrid SUVs are a rare breed, let alone seven-passenger, non-luxury SUVs like the Highlander Hybrid. The 2017 addresses one of our big misgivings now that there are more affordable variants, making the 28 mpg combined ride (29/27/28 mpg city/highway/combined) more accessible to a wider audience instead of just available on the priciest trim levels. The 28 mpg combined rating is as good as many mid-size sedans but with the uncompromised utility of a three-row SUV to fill up with little and big commuters on the way to school or the office.

img980183445 1478883252064 jpg 2017 Toyota Prius | Manufacturer image

Recommended for Commuters

The Prius is a much more pleasant car to log commuting hours in after its recent redesign. Chassis-wide improvements make it handle more confidently, with less body roll and an overall less sloppy experience on rough roads. It also doesn't hurt that the Prius is one of the most fuel-efficient hybrids without a plug at an impressive 58/53/56 mpg city/highway/combined in Eco trim, which adds aerodynamic goodies and weight-saving measures to boost fuel economy over the base trim's 54/50/52 mpg rating.

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