Whether you engage in routine commuting or spend the vast amount of your time in your car, there’s something that most of us can agree on: we all appreciate a comfortable ride. Sure, race-tuned cars with stiff suspension and bucket seats are wicked good fun, but in small doses. For the rest of the time, if you know you’ll be in the car for a while, why not have the most comfortable vehicle available?
The Kelley Blue Book did a little research last month to determine what cars available now are the most comfortable for under $30,000 (some turned out to exceed that threshold, so for our purposes, we’re changing that to ‘around $30,000?). From Volkswagen to Volvo and Chevy to Chrysler, here are 10 vehicles that offer a wide array of fuel-efficiency, performance, and styles, but count on one constant: they’re all pretty damn comfortable.
“Luxury cars are doing very well for themselves, but they haven’t cornered the market on comfort,” the KBB said. “Today’s mainstream money can buy some of the quietest cabins on the road, along with many of the comfort-oriented features that debuted upmarket just a few years ago.” Read on after the jump to see what made the KBB’s cut.
10. 2015 Volkswagen Golf
The Golf is the smallest car the Volkswagen offers in the United States, but don’t let that throw you — it’s one of the most premium-trimmed compacts on the market. The materials are decidedly upscale for its segment, and even in the fully loaded SEL trim, it still falls about $4,000 shy of $30,000. Don’t let its stature fool you, though — the Golf is misleadingly roomy inside, its road manners are quiet and reserved, and the ride quality is arguably the best you can get in the compact class.
9. 2014 Buick Verano
Buick’s smallest sedan doesn’t mean it’s any less comfortable than the larger ones, and you could do a lot worse for less than $30,000. The Verano starts at just $23,700 and is arguably as comfortable as the entry-level ATS from Cadillac in its higher trims. Buick is working hard to shed its image as a geriatric brand, and cars like the Verano are key to that strategy; Buick is now being positioned as a soft-luxury brand to catch those who are looking for more comfort than a Chevy, but can’t afford a Caddy.
8. 2014 Volkswagen Passat
Its understated exterior styling seems to have hurt the Volkswagen Passat’s chances in the U.S., but overall, it’s an extremely formidable sedan that offers exceptional comfort at an exceptional price. The KBB commended its “connected steering feel” and “terrific front seats,” but it’s more than a one-trick pony: the back seat is also one of the most generous that you can get for the price, and the refined TDI model comes in under $30,000 and can net 44 miles per gallon on the highway.
7. 2014 Honda Accord
“Peace of mind is comfortable, too, and the Honda Accord has built one of the best reputations in the entire industry,” KBB said, adding that there are quieter and softer-riding midsize sedans, but “the Accord’s all-encompassing refinement makes it incredibly satisfying to drive around town or across country.” Americans have responded well to the new model — in August, it was the second best-selling vehicle in the U.S., ahead of Chevrolet’s Silverado.
6. Nissan Altima
Like the Accord, the Nissan Altima is a frequent flier on the best-sellers list. Reportedly, “Nissan leveraged NASA research in designing the Altima’s “zero gravity inspired” front seats,” KBB said. “It only sounds like marketing fluff until you spend some time in these notably comfortable front buckets,” it added. A best-selling car wouldn’t be uncomfortable, right?
5. Toyota Avalon
The Toyota Avalon might be one of the largest sedans for the money — notably, however, the 2014.5 model runs a hair over at $31,340. But if you can afford the extra thousand and change, you can have a car that’s very much near Lexus-grade quality and interior fit-and-finish. Coupled with a spacious cabin that offers plenty of occupant mobility, the Avalon is an often overlooked option in the $30,000 range.
4. Buick Regal
This is not the Regal of 10 or 20 years ago. The new model is far more poised, and in the GS trim, far more sporty. It’s still a Buick at heart, though, and in the best way; it retains the brand’s penchant for comfort. Sturdy, supportive seats are a mainstay in the Regal’s interior, and with all the optional tech gadgets and add-ons, a quick badge-swap could leave many thinking they’re sitting in a high-end Cadillac.
3. Chrysler 300
The Chrysler 300 just barely brushes past $30,000 by about $995, but it’s well worth the extra investment. Like Buick, Chrysler is a sort of soft-luxury brand that bridges between the utilitarian models and the higher-end vehicles like BMW or Mercedes. The 300 is arguably the most refined sedan in this class, with heated eight-way power seats featuring four-way power lumbar support for the driver and front passenger.
2. Volvo S60
“Outstanding seats, natural driving feel, and a luxuriously minimalist interior design combine to make the Volvo S60 a uniquely comfortable entry-luxury sedan that’s also fun to drive,” KBB says. Volvo’s design recently has set a new benchmark for understated elegance, and the S60 is no different. It’s a bit pricer, though, as it starts at over $33,000 for an entry-level model, but is that a decent price for the best Sweden has to offer?
1. Chevrolet Impala
The Impala is a hallowed nameplate that, for the last several years, has unfortunately been dragged through the mud as fleet-filler while American consumers turned to options from Europe, Korea, and Japan. No longer, however; the Impala is back, and arguably better than ever before. Coming off its 2014 redesign, “the big, comfortable, affordable American sedan is alive and well, but now it’s stylish and modern, too,” KBB notes.