Commuter cars are the bread-and-butter of the UK’s motoring world. They’re the vehicles which get us safe and securely from home to work and back again. However, the best commuter cars still need to be practical, usable and comfortable so that when you’re not darting to the workplace, you’re still left with a car that helps out each and every day.

Fortunately, there are loads of superb options when it comes to commuter cars in the used market. With such variety, we’re able to pick out the cream of the crop while taking into account a variety of factors including efficiency, comfort and spaciousness. Let’s take a look at some of the best used commuter cars:

1. BMW 3 Series (2012-2019)

The BMW 3 Series is a car which has commuting at its very core. You could almost see it as the original business car, sweeping effortlessly along vast stretches of motorway without any hesitation. These days, the 3 Series is more accomplished than ever and while the latest generation does bring more tech, we’re fans of this sixth-generation car as it’s got all of the equipment you need but at a more affordable price.

It’s available as a more practical estate model, too, and thanks to a range of efficient yet punchy engines, the 3 Series isn’t going to cost the earth to run. Fan-favourite 320d models are particularly frugal, while the plug-in hybrid 330e is a great option for those drivers who are able to charge up at home.

Best Features

  • Comfortable and refined, the 3 Series is great for longer commutes
  • All versions get plenty of equipment and a high level of build quality
  • Frugal engine choices can help reduce fuel costs
  • Things to consider

    • Expect routine repairs to be more costly than with cheaper cars
    • Ride can be quite firm on M Sport models due to large wheels
    • Used 3 Series cars can often be high-mileage

    2. Volkswagen Golf (2013-2020)

    The Volkswagen Golf is a safe choice as a used commuter car. It’s the Golf’s all-rounder character which makes it ideal in this area as it’s just as well suited to travelling up the motorway as it is slotting into a space at a busy train station car park. The Golf’s unending popularity means that there’s loads of choice in the used market, too, with this seventh-generation car representing a good blend of must-have tech and value-for-money.

    It’s comfortable and quiet inside, too, while five-door versions bring extra accessibility – handy if you’re dropping kids off at school on your way to work. A great variety of engines – including a very frugal GTE plug-in – make the Golf a sure-fire option for those after low running costs.

    Best Features

  • Loads of availability on the used market
  • Good choice of engines, specifications and colours
  • Versions with smaller wheels are incredibly comfortable and good over potholes
  • Things to consider

    • They can often have a hard life so check for car park scrapes and damage inside
    • Lower-spec versions can often feel quite spartan inside
    • Diesel-powered Golfs can feel agricultural – particularly when cold

    3. Nissan Qashqai (2014-2021)

    The original crossover, the Qashqai was the car which showed drivers they didn’t just need to be driving a standard hatchback anymore. In fact, the Qashqai has been a massive success, appealing to motorists who like to sit a little higher up. And though it does have a family-friendly focus, the Qashqai is still great for commuters – it’s not overly large and thanks to its good range of engines it’s not expensive to run, either.

    The Qashqai is a hard-wearing car, too, with solid interior materials – though the odd plastic section can feel a bit cheap. As with most cars popular with families, make sure you check out any used Qashqai for damage both inside and out. However, for commuting it makes a fine choice and provides great levels of space and practicality.

    Best Features

  • Versatile and comfortable, the Qashqai has a pleasant cabin and well-sized boot
  • The Qashqai is great over long distances, ideal for if your commute is further afield
  • Loads of availability in the used market
  • Things to consider

    • Qashqais can have a hard life – look over any example for wear and tear
    • Reliability isn’t the best – look out for lots of service history and receipts to ensure you’re getting a cared-for example
    • Big-wheeled versions can be quite firm

    4. Volkswagen Passat (2015-2022)

    Though it isn’t often seen as the most inspiring of cars, you cannot fault the Volkswagen Passat for how effective it is. Comfortable, spacious and very refined, it’s a car which can take the edge off the longest and dreariest of commutes.

    Being a Volkswagen means that the Passat feels very solidly built with decent materials used throughout. You’re also able to get it as a roomier estate version if you’re after a little extra boot space, though luggage capacity in the standard version is respectable. However, it’s the Passat’s fuss-free driving experience that’ll really appeal to commuters, while its well-padded chairs, decent sound system and plentiful equipment mean it’s a fine place to be – even if you’re stuck in traffic on the M1.

    Best Features

  • The Passat feels really solid and well made throughout
  • Good levels of equipment on all versions
  • Impressively frugal, with the diesel engines being particularly fuel-sipping
  • Things to consider

    • Popular with long-distance drivers, used Passats are often accompanied by high mileage
    • They can be quite plain in lower specs
    • Lower-powered diesels can feel lacklustre in terms of performance

    5. Seat Ateca (2016-present)

    While a lot of people will see the Volkswagen Tiguan as the go-to mid-size SUV, we’d argue that its sister car – the Seat Ateca – makes for a smarter choice. Despite being identical underneath, the Ateca is often cheaper than its German cousin yet brings the same excellent driving experience and well-made interior.

    If you’re a commuter looking to stand out then you’ll appreciate the vibrant colour palette available on the Ateca, with oranges and reds being particularly strong in this area. The Ateca also offers the confidence-inspiring raised driving position which has helped to make SUVs so popular. A well-specified interior with lots of standard equipment should also help to take the edge off even the dreariest of commutes.

    Best Features

  • Sharp looks and pleasantly built interior
  • Lots of good engines to choose from with both manual and automatic gearboxes
  • Neat handling makes the Ateca more fun to drive than you might expect
  • Things to consider

    • Some interior materials feel cheap
    • Diesel engines are superbly efficient but can be noisy under acceleration
    • Sportier versions bring a firmer ride

    6. Volvo V60 (2018-2023)

    If you think of an estate car, we’d bet it’s a Volvo you’re picturing. This Swedish brand has been ingrained in the estate car segment for decades. While it has stepped back from this area, its back catalogue means there are loads of great used Volvo estates to choose from – and the V60 is one of our favourites.

    This latest generation of V60 is one of the most accomplished with great levels of technology but a spacious interior which feels classic ‘Volvo’. Plus, it’s impressively comfortable over longer distances with well-managed suspension which takes the worst out of the lumps and bumps in the road. It’s a classy and refined way to commute, that’s for sure.

    Best Features

  • The V60’s design is timeless, so used examples still look fresh
  • Solid build quality means that used versions shouldn’t feel tired inside
  • All versions get lots of tech and an intuitive main touchscreen
  • Things to consider

    • The V60 is a popular long-distance car so look out for high-mileage examples
    • Lower-spec versions can feel a bit plain inside with uninspiring colours
    • Lower-powered diesels can feel like they need a bit more punch

    7. Mercedes A-Class (2018-present)

    The Mercedes A-Class broke new ground by become a ‘regular’ hatchback which delivered a more upmarket, premium experience. As a result, it has been something of a hit and this makes it a widespread option on the used market. A great range of engines – including some particularly efficient diesels – ensure there’s something for all drivers.

    For commuters, the A-Class fits the bill. It’s comfortable, efficient and reasonably compact, making it an easy car to thread into smaller parking spaces or through tighter car parks. It’s also got lots of user-friendly technology inside, with even earlier A-Class examples incorporating a clever widescreen infotainment system. It was, in fact, one of the first cars in the Mercedes range to get this high-tech setup.

    Best Features

  • The A-Class is one of the most tech-packed cars of its type
  • Classy with an upmarket, rounded design
  • Reasonable boot space and a well-sized cabin make it a good choice practicality-wise
  • Things to consider

    • Some interior plastics weren’t up to the usual Mercedes standard and feel quite cheap
    • AMG Line versions do suffer from poor ride quality due to larger alloys
    • Some of the smaller diesels can feel quite clattery when at lower speeds

    8. Jaguar I-Pace (2018-present)

    Considering going electric for your next commuter car? The Jaguar I-Pace could be a great way to go about it. Used prices for the I-Pace have fallen considerably making this once premium-priced electric SUV far more affordable than you might expect.

    It’s packed with features, too, with many examples sporting a pleasant full-length panoramic sunroof. This allows you to see more of the outdoors – particularly when you’re stuck in traffic. However, with a range of around 250 miles, it should have more than enough battery power to get your daily commute done on a single charge. In fact, switching to an EV could be a surefire way to lower commuting costs overall.

    Best Features

  • The I-Pace is brimmed with technology – it’s still Jaguar’s range-topping EV
  • A comfortable setup makes the I-Pace a relaxing way to get around
  • Despite being very large, the I-Pace is easy to drive
  • Things to consider

    • You’ll need to shop around to get the best-value I-Pace out there
    • Remember, home charging is the easiest way to run an EV – so see what your options are in this regard
    • Lack of a rear windscreen wiper is a pain

    9. Audi A5 (2016-present)

    A sleek, sportscar-esque car can help add a bit of drama to your commute and the A5 is a great way of doing just that. Available as both a standard coupe or a more practical five-door Sportback, the A5 has all of the usual Audi trademarks. Great materials, solid construction and an assured driving style are all present in this good-looking car.

    Refinement is a real plus-point with the A5, too, and if you’ve got a longer commute then this a fine car to get it done in. Low levels of wind and road noise ensure that the A5’s cabin remains reassuringly hushed. At the same time, good sound systems across the board allow you to enjoy your favourite songs or podcasts.

    Best Features

  • Refined and comfortable to drive
  • Engine line-up offers a good blend of efficiency and performance
  • Five-door Sportback model offers more in the way of spaciousness
  • Things to consider

    • Often accompanied by a premium price tag
    • Repairs and servicing can be expensive.
    • Rear-seat space isn’t the best in the standard Coupe

    10. Alfa Romeo Giulia (2016-present)

    If a little extra character and flair is what you’re after from your next commuter car, then the Alfa Romeo Giulia nails the brief. Arguably one of the most stylish saloons available today, it’s a car which encapsulates everything people love about Alfa Romeo. It’s great to drive and is a car you’ll never tire of walking up to each day.

    While the range-topping V6-powered Quadrifoglio grabs the headlines, it’s not the the most efficient. However, more ‘regular’ Veloce versions bring all the same flamboyance but with running costs which are far easier to deal with, particularly when commuting. You’ll also be able to brighten up the darkest of winter drives with the Giulia’s excellent range of exterior colours, including stand-out reds and greens.

    Best features

    Best Features

  • Regardless of which model you opt for, the Giulia is great to drive
  • Very few cars have the same exciting design as the Giulia
  • Variety of engine choices available
  • Things to consider

    • Some interior materials aren’t of the same standard as those from German rivals
    • Reliability issues have been known to present themselves in used models
    • Rear seat space isn’t the best

    What to consider when choosing a commuter car

    There are a couple of things to consider when looking at a commuter car. For one, you’re going to want to find a car which you feel is comfortable. Well-padded seats, a good driving position and decent adjustability can all ensure that a car is relaxing to get into at the end of a busy day.

    You might also want to think about the size of your next car. Some office car parks are tight and if you want to leave your car in a train station parking area then a large, cumbersome car is only going to cause stress. It’s another thing to consider before buying.

    Petrol, Diesel or Electric?

    This really depends on your situation. If you’ve got an average commute and can charge at home – or have off-street parking that allows you to install a charger – then electric is a no-brainer. You won’t have to pay any road tax, while the overall fuel savings when using an EV-specific tariff will be considerable compared with a petrol or diesel car. However, if you’ve not got access to home charging then this option isn’t that viable.

    If charging isn’t an option – but your commute is still relatively short – then consider opting for a petrol vehicle. They deliver better efficiency levels over shorter distances than diesel cars and still bring good fuel consumption levels overall.

    However, if you’ve got a very long commute – or you often need to travel further afield for work – then a diesel car could still be a great option. Diesel cars need long drives at relatively high speeds to work at their cleanest and most efficient. So work out how far you’re travelling day-to-day to see if a diesel could fit your routine.