For those who use their vehicle on a daily basis, having a well-rounded, commuter-friendly option is of paramount importance. Thankfully, these days the auto market is filled with choices, all of which offer a potent mix of fuel economy, power and reliability. Why is having a such a vehicle important? Most people live in an area that sees a perpetual change in seasons, and having a car, truck or SUV that can handle any type of weather is imperative.
It’s a good time to look at your options now, as winter is quickly approaching for those who live in the northern latitudes. So, what are the most important factors to look at when trying to pick out a new vehicle? For daily commuters, obviously fuel efficiency is a big one. Starting price is also very important, as working men and women need the most bang for their buck. Reliability and toughness are also pretty important as well, because you never know when you’ll get stuck in a freak snow storm, or a perpetual downpour.
Luckily, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to select eight vehicles that are ideal for any season, and that hit upon all of those necessary qualifications. If you need a vehicle that is relatively inexpensive, reliable, and won’t absolutely wreck your fuel budget, these vehicles are for you. Read on to see our eight recommendations for commuter vehicles that will get you by, no matter the season.
1. Volvo XC70
Everybody likes Volvo, and though they can be a bit expensive — starting at $35,850, in this case — they still offer the total package that commuters want. The Volvo XC70, a well-rounded wagon, comes standard with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, making 240 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. That’s the kind of power you know you can depend on when the weather takes a turn for the worse. But you also get decent gas mileage, 24 miles per gallon in the city, and 31 on the highway, plus the all-wheel drive makes the XC70 one for all kinds of weather.
2. Acura TLX
The Acura TLX is actively proving that Honda’s luxury brand still has what it takes, and it starts with a relatively low price tag of $30,995. The TLX comes with a few different powertrain options, but most people should be able to get by just fine with the standard 2.4-liter four cylinder engine, offering 206 horsepower. For a price bump, you can upgrade to a 3.5-liter V6 and all-wheel drive, which may be preferable for those in colder climates. Also, the TLX is rated at 28 miles per gallon combined, ideal for longer drives.
3. Subaru XV Crosstrek
There’s a reason those new Subaru wagons are so popular, and it’s because they really offer one of the most complete packages on the auto market. Subaru’s XV Crosstrek not only features cool aesthetics, but it’s mechanical performance is noteworthy as well. The Crosstrek is rated at 29 miles per gallon combined for the eco-conscious, and is outfitted with a 2.0-liter Subaru Boxer four-cylinder engine. That delivers 148 horsepower, a bit less than the other models on this list, but the asking price is significantly lower as well, at $21,995. Of course, all-wheel capabilities come standard.
4. Tesla Model S 85D
Have nearly $90,000 on hand? Opt for Tesla’s Model S 85D, provided your average daily commute is less than 295 miles — which it likely will be. It’s comfortable, all-wheel drive, quiet, doesn’t require gas or oil changes, and is ridiculously quick. The second motor actually adds to the 85 kWh battery pack’s range, bringing the Tesla close to 300 miles on a single charge, so range anxiety issues can be largely dispelled. Is it expensive? Yeah. But it’ll be among the most comfortable commutes available, and the cheapest per mile, too.
5. Honda CR-V
Few compact SUVs are as popular as Honda’s CR-V, and it’s this vehicle’s ability to blend price-effectiveness with performance that keeps customers lining up. The new CR-V starts at a price of $23,320, just barely under the RAV4, and also manages to beat its Toyota rival in terms of fuel efficiency. The CR-V is rated at 27 miles per gallon in the city, and 34 on the highway, for 30 miles per gallon combined. There are eight different model configurations to choose from, the least expensive of which comes with a 185-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder motor.
6. Ford Edge
What’s Ford’s response to its competition from across the Pacific? There are a few options, but the Ford Edge looks like the best bet for commuters. The Edge is a bit pricier than it’s competitors, starting at $28,100 for a 2015 model. For that price, you get an Edge equipped with a 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder motor, but with options that range up to a much more powerful 3.5-liter V6 with all-wheel drive. Ford also loaded up the new Edge with optional features, so if you’re willing to spend a bit more money, the Edge provides a roomier, and perhaps more comfortable alternative to the Japanese. We heavily recommend spending the extra $600 for the Sport model, which comes with Ford’s excellent 2.0 liter EcoBoost engine.
7. Volkswagen Golf GTI
Few small cars are as popular or versatile as Volkswagen’s Golf. Not only is it small and efficient, but it retains an element of sportiness that most other cars in its segment lack. The all-new Golf GTI has an asking price of $24,397, which is significantly more than the standard Golf model, but it also has plenty more guts to it as well. The GTI comes with a 210-horsepower turbocharged engine, that is rated at around 30 miles per gallon combined, and might offer the most fun you can have for under $25,000.
8. Jeep Cherokee
Following a recent redesign, Jeep’s classic Cherokee SUV has really been driving in the customers. New models start at just under $23,000, and a four-wheel drive model at a couple thousand dollars more than that. Similar to its competitors, the Cherokee comes with options under the hood, the cheapest of which is a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine. The Cherokee doesn’t offer any earth-shattering advantages over its rivals, but does have a clean, sleek physique and gas mileage rated at around 27 or 28 miles per gallon combined.
9. Volkswagen Passat TDI
At $26,825, the Passat TDI is a bit of an expensive proposition against other sedans like the Camry or Fusion, but it has a few aces up its sleeve that set it apart and make it worth the cost. The primary factor is fuel economy: The diesel powertrain allows the Passat, which is one of the larger midsize sedans, to achieve 30 miles per gallon around town and 44 on the highway, but without the complexity of a hybrid drivetrain. It’s also exceptionally roomy inside, and its fit and finish and build quality is virtually unmatched in the segment.
10. Honda Accord Hybrid
If diesel isn’t really your thing, there are other higher-mileage alternatives. It’s hard to deny that Honda’s Accord is among the most respected commuter sedans in North America, and the hybrid version (at $29,305) is in every way the reliable and capable sedan that its conventional brethren is — except it gets 50 miles per gallon in the city, and 45 miles per gallon on the highway. Other than that, it’s got all the ingredients that make the Accord so popular: well-mannered, intuitive, easy to get along with, and good at just about everything. Additionally, the extra weight from the hybrid systems will help with traction in icy conditions.