The 7 Best Commuter Cars and SUVs Deliver in These Categories

Did you know that the average one-way commute in the United States increased to a new high of nearly 28 minutes in 2019? There’s no denying that’s a good amount of time to be spending behind the wheel. The good news is that if you’re in the market for a new commuter car, these new cars are among the best commuter cars out there. They’re not only among the most affordable new cars on the road today, but they’re also fuel-efficient, reliable, safe, and stocked with features. What’s not to like about that?

The best commuter cars and SUVs

A Black Toyota Camry driving down a city street, the Toyota Camry is one of the best commuter cars
Toyota Camry | Toyota

This list of the best commuter cars and SUVs includes a range of affordable new cars. From the highly-rated 2021 Mazda CX-5 to the perennial favorite the 2021 Toyota Camry, Consumer Reports ranks these vehicles as some of the most reliable new cars. Additionally, each of these vehicles is among the safest and most fuel-efficient new cars. And when it comes to features? These commuter cars know just how to please. 

Without further ado, these are the best commuter cars and SUVs:

7. 2021 Mazda CX-5
6. 2021 Kia Soul
5. 2021 Subaru Forester
4. 2021 Hyundai Kona
3. 2021 Honda Accord
2. 2021 Toyota Prius
1. 2021 Toyota Camry

7. The 2021 Mazda CX-5 is a new SUV and one of the best commuter cars

Price: $25,370 – $37,505
Fuel Economy: 28 Combined City/Highway MPG
Safety: IIHS Top Safety Pick+, 5-Star NHTSA Safety Rating

If you’re shopping for the best commuter cars and would prefer a new SUV, it’s hard to beat what the 2021 Mazda CX-5 has to offer. This year’s new CX-5 starts at $25,370. At its highest price, it will have you spending $37,505.

The 2021 Mazda CX-5 isn’t just an affordable new SUV. While its low starting price is certainly appealing, the CX-5 is also a reliable SUV. In fact, Consumer Reports gave it a five out of five predicted reliability rating. Meanwhile, J.D. Power gave it an Average reliability rating.

This year’s new CX-5 certainly delivers when it comes to features too. It’s well-stocked with standard driver-assist safety features like radar cruise control, blindspot monitoring, a lane departure warning system, and more. It’s also standard with features such as a 6-way manual adjustable driver’s seat, Bluetooth hands-free, and a 10.25-inch touchscreen display featuring Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

6. The 2021 Kia Soul is one of the best budget-friendly cars commuter cars

A red 2021 Kia Soul seen driving, the 2021 Kia Soul is an affordable new car and one of the best cars for commuting
2021 Kia Soul | Kia

Price: $19,190 – $27,790
Fuel Economy: 30 Combined City/Highway MPG
Safety: IIHS Top Safety Pick, 4-Star NHTSA Safety Rating

The 2021 Kia Soul is also among the best commuter cars. For a few reasons too. Much like the Mazda CX-5, the 2021 Kia Soul is an affordable SUV. In fact, this year’s model starts at $19,190. At its most expensive, the new Kia Soul will have you spending approximately $27,790. 

The Kia Soul is also a safe SUV. As a matter of fact, upgrade to the Kia Soul S, and this year’s model comes standard with Kia Drive Wise Driver Assist Technology, which includes forward collision-avoidance assist, blind-spot collision warning, rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist, lane-keeping assist, lane change assist, and driver attention warnings. With so many safety features to its name, it’s no surprise that the 2021 Kia Soul is an IIHS Top Safety Pick. The NHTSA also gave it a four-star overall safety rating.

Perhaps the only downside to the 2021 Kia Soul is that this year’s model isn’t among the most reliable new cars. Consumer Reports gave it a one out of five predicted reliability rating, which is nothing short of disappointing. The good news is that J.D. Power gave it a Great quality and reliability rating.

5. The 2021 Subaru Forester is a reliable new SUV with all-wheel drive 

Price: $24,795 – $34,895
Fuel Economy: 29 Combined City/Highway MPG
Safety: IIHS Top Safety Pick+, 5-Star NHTSA Safety Rating

There’s a lot to like about the 2021 Subaru Forester. It’s a new SUV under $25,000 and currently ranks as the best compact SUV according to Consumer Reports. It’s available in a slew of well-equipped trim levels too and, at its most expensive, won’t have you spending more than $35,000. 

Those aren’t the only reasons this year’s Forester is among the best commuter cars and SUVs either. The 2021 Subaru Forester is one of the most reliable new SUVs. In fact, Consumer Reports gave it a five out of five predicted reliability rating. Meanwhile, J.D. Power gave it a Great quality and reliability rating. 

And when it comes to safety features? The 2021 Subaru Forester comes standard with EyeSight Driver Assist Technology, which includes safety features such as adaptive cruise control, a pre-collision braking system, lane departure, and sway warning, and lane-keep assist.

4. The 2021 Hyundai Kona is one of the best new cars under $25,000

A red 2021 Hyundai Kona driving, the 2021 Hyundai Kona is one of the best commuter cars
2021 Hyundai Kona | Hyundai

Price: $20,500 – $28,150
Fuel Economy: 30 Combined City/Highway MPG
Safety: IIHS Top Safety Pick, 5-Star NHTSA Safety Rating

Buying a reliable new car for your daily commute shouldn’t break the bank. That’s what makes the 2021 Hyundai Kona one of the best commuter cars you can buy. It’s a new car under $25,000 and, even at its most expensive, won’t have you spending more than $30,000. Consumer Reports also gave it a five out of five predicted reliability rating, which is pretty hard to argue with.

What’s even most enticing about the 2021 Hyundai Kona is that it’s available as an electric vehicle (EV). In fact, the Hyundai Kona Electric ranks among the best new electric vehicles according to Consumer Reports. It even boasts an EPA-estimated range over 200-miles.

However, regardless of which Hyundai Kona model you opt for, this affordable new car also comes pretty well-outfitted with both safety and interior features. Not only is this year’s Kona well-equipped with some of the best driver-assist safety features around but it also comes standard with features such as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. 

3. The 2021 Honda Accord is one of the safest new cars for the daily commute

Price: $24,970 – $36,900
Fuel Economy: 33 Combined City/Highway MPG
Safety: Top Safety Pick+, 5-Star NHTSA Safety Rating

There’s no denying that the Honda Accord is a favorite among the midsize sedan segment. It’s also one of the best commuter cars. Though, it’s no surprise as to why. The 2021 Honda Accord is one of the most affordable new cars on the market today and starts at $24,970. It also has a reputation for being among the most reliable and most fuel-efficient new cars. 

The Honda Accord is an enjoyable car to drive too. In fact, Consumer Reports gave it an 89/100 in road tests. The organization lauded this year’s new Accord for its fuel-efficient 192-horsepower 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Its interior aims to please too. In fact, as Consumer Reports puts it, “The Accord has one of the classier cabins in the midsized sedan segment.”

And when it comes to safety? The 2021 Honda Accord is standard with Honda Sensing, which includes forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high beams. 

2. The 2021 Toyota Prius is one of the most fuel-efficient new cars

A blue Toyota Prius driving, the Prius is an affordable new car that's best for commuting
Toyota Prius | Toyota

Price: $24,525 – $32,650
Fuel Economy: 52 Combined City/Highway MPG
Safety: 5-Star NHTSA Safety Rating

Chances are, if you have a long commute, you’d prefer to buy one of the most fuel-efficient and most affordable new cars on the market. Fortunately, the 2021 Toyota Prius is among the best commuter cars according to U.S. News & World Report. In fact, this year’s model delivers an EPA-estimated 54 mpg in the city and 50 mpg on the highway. 

But this affordable new car isn’t just one of the most fuel-efficient cars on the market. The 2021 Toyota Prius is also an affordable new car. This year’s model starts at $24,525. It’s available in several additional models. At its most expensive price tag, the 2021 Toyota Prius will have you spending approximately $32,650. Meaning, if you’re in the market for a new car under $35,000, the Toyota Prius makes for an excellent choice.

Despite its affordable price tag, the 2021 Toyota Prius comes stocked with features. It’s not only standard with a slew of safety features but it also comes standard with sought-after interior features like push button start, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a smart-flow climate control system with pollen filtration.

1. The 2021 Toyota Camry is the best commuter car you can buy

A dark blue 2021 Toyota Camry driving down the street
2021 Toyota Camry | Toyota

Price: $25,045 – $35,620
Fuel Economy: 33 Combined City/Highway MPG
Safety: Top Safety Pick+, 5-Star NHTSA Safety Rating

Last but certainly not least is the 2021 Toyota Camry, the best commuter car you can buy. And don’t just take our word for it, either. U.S. News also included this year’s new Toyota Camry among its picks for the best commuter cars. Though, that shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.

After all, the 2021 Toyota Camry starts at $25,045, making it one of the most affordable new cars on the market. The Camry is also among the most reliable new cars. Consumer Reports even gave it a five out of five predicted reliability rating. And when it comes to safety? While the NHTSA gave it a 5-star overall safety rating, the IIHS recognized it as a Top Safety Pick+.

And if the 2021 Toyota Camry isn’t the best commuter car for you? Not to worry. From the 2021 Mazda CX-5 to the 2021 Honda Accord, the best commuter cars include plenty of reliable and safe options that are worth your consideration.

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