Buying a commuter car is not different from buying any other type of car for any other sort of purpose. In all cases you’re going to need to know your budget, make sure you get all the important bits checked, test drive it, get it insured and everything else.

But, if we’re honest, as a commuter you should know a few things before you take the plunge. That’s why we’ve put together these expert tips to help you find the perfect car for commuting.

For all the other practical information about purchasing a car, check out our complete car buyer’s guide. It’s got everything you need in one place.

1. Used or new?

Call us biased but we think a used car is ideal for commuting. Once a car is older than 2 or 3 years old it’s already taken the biggest depreciation hit. This means you could find a great used car with not too many miles and in excellent condition to take you on your daily commute. Plus, the cheaper price tag of a used car will give you plenty more choice than if you were to buy a new one.

If you prefer a new car for your daily commute, that’s also a great idea, but you may be a bit more constrained by the budget and options it affords you.

2. Fuel economy

Fuel economy is one of the most important factors to think about when you put a lot of miles on your car every day. The best cars for commuting are those with great fuel economy – anything over 50mpg. Think the Seat Leon 1.6 TDI 110 Ecomotive’s 56.0mpg or the Toyota Yaris 1.5 Hybrid‘s 59.3mpg.

What type of driving will you do on your commute? Is it mostly city driving? Or you’ll need to get on the motorway for a big chunk of the drive? Make sure you read the fuel-economy estimates for the model you’ve got your eyes set on and check they make sense.

Overall, diesel cars are more fuel-efficient than petrol vehicles, but they will only make up for their higher price tag if you drive them on the motorway and over long distances. Petrol cars, on the other hand, are better for urban driving where you often sit in traffic. Although, if you’re only going to use the car for city driving, then the most fuel-efficient choice will be a hybrid or even an electric car.

3. Maintenance costs

Commuters cars get driven a lot, that’s a fact. And you want them to be reliable and relatively affordable to maintain. Firstly, because when you need the car for your daily commute having it tied up several days for repairs is less than ideal. Secondly, because you don’t want it to be a money pit.

If you’re unsure how much a car will cost to maintain, check how much it will cost to insure and service. You can use websites like HPI to check car running costs to find the best fit for your needs.

4. Type of car

Technically any car could be a commuter vehicle, as long as it takes you to and from work and fits your needs. But some cars are better than others for the daily grind of travelling to your job. That may be because they are more fuel-efficient, pollute less or are just easier to park.

Most commuter cars are hatchback city cars or superminis like the Ford Fiesta or the MINI, or saloons like the BMW 3 or the Audi A3. In recent years, crossovers have become quite popular as cars for commuting thanks to their high and comfortable driving position, great visibility and good fusion of rugged looks and great handling. But that doesn’t mean you need to stick to these.

Buy the car that fells right for your commute. For example, if you work in a city and parking spaces are tight it would make sense to go for a small hatchback that’s easy to fit in any spot and doesn’t guzzle a lot of petrol. Even a hybrid or electric hatchback like the Renault Zoe or the Nissan Leaf would fit the bill if you can charge them easily.

If your commute involves driving on the motorway for more than 30 minutes each way then you may want to invest in a bigger and more spacious ride. Maybe the 55.2mpg and high driving position of the Renault Kadjar will be perfect. Or why not commute in style on an eco-friendly Tesla. The choice is yours.

5. Comfort

You’re going to spend quite some time inside of your car, so pick one that’s comfortable to drive and to sit in. Whether your commute is 20 minutes or more than 1 hour, you want to sit comfortably. Luckily, most modern cars are packed with great features that will make them almost as comfy as your favourite couch.

First, make sure the seats can be adjusted to fit your body best. Second, does the cushioning feel snug and is your back supported? Check how it feels when you’re sitting behind the wheel and adjust the headrest to the right height. Third, ensure you reach the pedals and all controls easily and nicely all the time.

Another thing to consider when you’re thinking about comfort is heated or cooled seats. Depending on where you live, you may appreciate this extra that will keep you warm in a wet and cold winter commute back home. If your part of the world gets very hot in summer, then nothing will feel better than not sitting in a seat that’s hotter than burning coals.

And lastly, choose the right suspension. As exciting as a sporty suspension feels on a racetrack, it may not be that comfortable on a long commute or in a city full of cobbled streets. Test a few cars and pick what feels best for your body and the roads you’ll drive on.

Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

6. Safety

Safety is always key, especially if you’re going to use your car every single day to take you on your commute. Thankfully most modern cars come packed with plenty of safety features to keep you safe on the road. Check Euro NCAP ratings and look for useful features such as forward-collision warning systems, blind-spot monitoring or lane-assist technology.

7. Car entertainment

Since you’re going to spend part of your day in it, why not make your commute an entertaining experience? Cars these days have plenty of infotainment and tech to add that extra pizzazz, to well-known itineraries.

Think about SatNav; Apple CarPlay or Android Auto to have your favourite music and audiobooks with you; voice command so you can pick up the phone without distraction; cup holders right where you need them for your takeaway morning coffee; somewhere to charge your batteries. Just because it’s a commute it doesn’t need to be dull.

Check out the best economical cars for commuters or our choice of best executive cars for commuting. Which one will be yours?