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When you’re part of the rat race and commute every day, you need a decent car to make the daily journey easier. Lots of cars are out there willing and able to oblige, too, from the trusty Ford Focus St through to the eco-friendly Nissan LEAF. They all shoo the dread of the commute out of your mind and turn the experience into a pleasure. Just load up your favourite playlist, start the engine and crack on.

 

What kind of things do you want from a commuter car?

If you’re going to be out on the road for long periods of time, your car’s got to be comfortable.

Ideally, you also want to arrive today, not tomorrow, so the car should have decent acceleration, rather than feel as if time stands still whenever you start driving.

Ultimately, you want to enjoy the drive. If the car leaves your personal finances relatively intact, that’s another box to tick off.

 

The best cars for a long commute

Now we’ve covered the essentials, let’s get down to the nitty gritty and see what vehicles will serve you well for commuting. We start with the ever reliable Ford Focus ST.

1. FORD FOCUS ST

The 1.5 L EcoBoost petrol engine in the ST line’s X edition gives you mileage bang for your buck with a potential 64.2 per gallon (mpg). Choose its diesel counterpart and you could get some 54.3 mpg out of it, plus the bonus of an automatic transmission… those smooth gearshifts always welcome on a long drive. The same engine delivers 118 hp (120 PS) but is a little slow out of the blocks with 0 to 62 mph in 10 to 10.8 seconds, depending on your engine.

 

This five-door family car is big on entertainment, with Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto so you can get your Beyoncé on from behind the wheel. Meanwhile, the drive itself is generally comfortable. Racing car seating has inspired the seating for comfort, the steering is precise and the suspension rolls well with the punches. You’re off to a good start to your day in this car.

Best features:

  • Cheap to run
  • Comfortable driving
  • Choice of automatic or manual transmission

USED PRICE FROM £1,000

2. HONDA CIVIC

A Honda Civic five-door hatchback in the SE trim with a 1.6 diesel engine will give you as many as 62.8 mpg overall, whereas a turbo engine with manual gearshift, would serve up around 47.9 or, with a 1.0 litre engine in the S trim, slightly more before it’s game over for the gallon. That being said… the 1.0 litre engines sacrifice acceleration, with 0 to 62 mph in the 10 to 11 seconds bracket, whereas the 1.6 litre engines create a 9.5 to 10.1 second scenario (save the Sport, which spoils you with 8.3 seconds).

The engine is quiet throughout the drive, with 118 hp (120 PS) and 221 lb ft (Nm) of torque pulling the car smoothly and swiftly along. The car steers confidently and the suspension copes competently with bumps and bobbles. It’s spacious so you can ride in comfort, with the Honda Connect infotainment system allowing you to tune into Apple CarPlay or Android Auto to keep your spirits high while you drive.

Best features:

  • Cheap to run with a diesel engine
  • Spacious inside
  • Honda Connect infotainment system while you drive

USED PRICE FROM £400

3. VOLVO S90

The Volvo S90 supplies you with around 43 miles to the gallon or more, overall, although it’s capable of more, depending on the engine. The S90 redeems itself with admirable acceleration, though, dishing out 0 to 62 mph in anything between 6 and 8 seconds. Not to be sniffed at on a commute.

Inside, drivers or passengers can enjoy little luxuries such as heated seats on this five-door treasure. The seating is designed for comfort and there’s plenty of leg space for long journeys. You might feel the bumps slightly, since it’s a firm ride, but the vehicle wins its way instantly back into your affections with tidy handling that makes the S90 a relaxing place to be on a long journey.

Best features:

  • Excellent handling
  • Admirable acceleration
  • Handy extras such as heated seats

USED PRICE FROM £5,000

4. MERCEDES BENZ C-CLASS

The 2 litre 220 d engine in a C-class saloon rewards you with up to 55.4 mpg and the car has a decent acceleration of 0 to 62 mph in 6.9 seconds.  The same sized 300d will shave off a second and add an extra 6 mph to the 220’s top speed of 149,  but will sacrifice a few miles per gallon for the trouble.

 

It’s all about how the car feels, though, with a Mercedes C-class. These saloons are comfortable. These saloons are refined. The steering is responsive and the car coasts along without making much of a sound. The optional Airmatic suspension system takes the edge right off bumps in the road, especially at higher speeds. Upgrade from a basic C-class spec and the car’s dials are highly customisable. You can also connect to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for any frustrating hours you spend stuck in traffic.

Best features:

  • Comfortable and refined
  • Responsive steering
  • Customisable dials beyond the basic speccs

USED PRICE FROM £450

5. NISSAN QASHQAI

The 1.3 L dCi engine of the Qashqai with dual clutch transmission (DCT) proffers up as many as 54.3 4 miles to the gallon. The acceleration is leisurely, taking 13 seconds to go from 0 to 62 mph and the vehicle reaches a top speed of 114 mph.

 

The car is spritely for its size and the engine is unfussy, coping with the vehicle’s bulky body well as it moves down the motorway. The ride is reasonably smooth and the car deals with the motorways neatly. The steering itself feels almost inconspicuous … it’s just so quick and direct and contributes firmly to the Qashqai’s overall easiness to drive. On those exceptionally hard days that we all have, features such as lane assist and cruise control help you stay on the ball behind the wheel and the smartphone integration means you can relax with some tunes from Apple CarPlay or Android Auto while you drive.

Best features:

  • High mileage per gallon
  • Spritely for a large vehicle
  • Easy to drive

USED PRICE FROM £1,600

6. CITROËN C4 Cactus

The Citroën C4 Cactus is all about comfort and convenience, with standard tech such as smartphone integration for entertainment and exceptionally soft seats in which you could sit all day if you had to. This hatchback is enjoyable to drive, thanks to the light steering, the car’s general agility and a suspension that soaks up the road’s imperfections relatively well, rather than forcing you to do it.

Fuel economy? There’s plenty of that. The BlueHDI 1.0 L SS engine will put 62.77 mpg your way. The mild 93 hp (94 PS) and 184 lb ft (250 Nm)of torque pulling power lend a hand with this, not to the mention the fact the vehicle is a few 100 kilos lighter than one or two vehicles of its ilk out there from Ford and Volkswagen. Good times.

Best features:

  • High mileage per gallon
  • High focus on comfort and convenience
  • Enjoyable to drive

USED PRICE FROM £3,300

7. LEXUS IS

The Lexus IS basic spec engine, the 300h, is a 2.5 litre petrol hybrid that transports you from 0 to 62 mph in 8.4 secs and reaches a top speed of 125 mph, so it’s that little bit slower than the car’s sporty bodywork might suggest. The pulling power from the 163 lb ft (221 Nm) of torque and 181 hp (184 PS) still inject respectable oomph into the proceedings, however. In terms of fuel economy, you’re looking at 48.7 mpg tops.

So how about the drive? Well, you’ll look forward to it. It feels natural and satisfying. The steering is crisp and the vehicle feels well-balanced when turning. Inside, the controls are slick, the surfaces are coordinated with precision and you have an infotainment system to break up the monotony of any traffic jams or dull stretches of road with some music.

Best features:

  • Natural, satisfying driving
  • Crisp steering
  • Slick, well-coordinated interior

USED PRICE FROM £595

8. PEUGEOT 508

The Peugeot 508 SW with the 1.5 L diesel BlueHDI engine with 8-speed automatic transmission will reward your investment with as many as 62 mpg. Lose the comfort of the automatic transmission and you can eek out an extra 1.6 on top of that with the manual one. The vehicle hits 129 mph and goes from 0 to 62 mph in 10.1 seconds. Top stuff from the 221 lb ft (300 Nm) and the 131 hp (133 PS) pulling power.

 

Pop your seat into a decent driving position and you’re away on the open road. This is a calm vehicle with quick steering that softens the edges of any hard day when you’re at the controls. The automatic gear box is smooth, responsive and warms to the long stretches of road while you drive. The adaptive suspension is firm but deals suitably enough with imperfections in the road. All the while, you can stay entertained with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which are standard in the vehicle.

Best features:

  • High mileage per gallon
  • Takes to open roads quickly
  • Calm with quick steering

USED PRICE FROM £2,600

9. VAUXHALL INSIGNIA

Go for a 1.5 litre turbo diesel or a 2.0 litre one — it’s all the same with this serial thriller which treats you to an overall 60.1 mpg. This is a big deal compared to the 32.5 to 37.7 mpg some of the petrol ones will give you. If you’re looking for acceleration, you’ll want the diesel engines at the heavier end of the scale, which have higher horsepower and hit 0 to 62 mph between 8.2 and 8.4 seconds. The 2 litre turbo petrol engines trump this with 7 to 7.2 seconds, but then there’s that low mpg of theirs….

The inside is spacious, functional and you won’t mind spending more time in the vehicle if you have to. The driving performance is clean and refined, with a suspension that adjusts to your driving and the road for a more comfortable journey. Couple this with Vauxhall’s improvements to the steering, plus generally smooth gear shifting, and you have a delightful commuter car on your hands.

Best features:

  • Turbo diesels for the fuel economy win
  • Clean, refined performance on the road
  • Improved handling

USED PRICE FROM £150

10. NISSAN LEAF

The Nissan LEAF e+ will be a faithful ally for longer commutes. The larger 62 KWh battery of this zippy electricity-powered hatchback allows the car to cover up to 239 miles before needing its next charge. Put your foot down and you’ll reach 0 to 62 mph in 6.9 seconds and a top speed of 98 mph, with the engine’s 214 hp (217 PS) and 251 lb ft of torque pulling power helping the LEAF on its way. That being said… smooth, steady driving is the way. Blitz the battery at every opportunity and you’ll soon have to charge it back up again.

The LEAF’s eco-friendly nature isn’t the only thing to make you feel all the feels. This heroic hatchback is lively out on the motorways and, overall, handles well. The steering is precise, relatively responsive and the car feels generally stable on the road. Inside, it’s plush, practical and offers apps such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for in-vehicle entertainment so that feel-good vibe never really goes away.

Best features:

  • Range of 239 miles
  • Accelerates well
  • Eco-friendly

USED PRICE FROM £4,900

Make those commutes comfortable and reliable. Find your next car on Motors.co.uk

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