What Does it Mean When a Car is a Good Daily Driver?

The phrase “daily driver” is quite common in the car community, and the phrase itself is relatively self-explanatory. The car that you drive every day, or mostly every day when it comes to the ins-and-outs of your weekly routine, is your daily driver. So, when it comes to talking about whether or not a car is a ‘good’ daily driver, it makes sense that the answer is relatively subjective. Still, there are some key factors many people take into consideration when it comes to what makes any car a ‘good’ daily driver.

Do you actually want to be here?

Modern cars offer every comfort you could possibly need. Air conditioning, Bluetooth music, and seats with lumbar support. It’s easy to forget that older cars and some sports cars don’t come with all of these minor luxuries, and if you’ve ever been stuck in traffic on a hot Florida day in a car without any of these features, you’ll be asking yourself why you’re in that car, to begin with.

So for the most basic needs of having a daily driver, could you imagine being stuck in 5 o’clock traffic for an unfortunately long period of time? Can you tolerate hungry, tired kids in the back seat yelling on the way home from soccer practice? The needs of every driver might be different, but when you’re sitting behind the wheel of a test drive, just imagine the worst-case scenario of being stuck in that car for hours and ask, do you really want to be there?

The front 3/4 overhead view of a gray 2022 Acura MDX Advance
2022 Acura MDX Advance overhead front 3/4 | Acura

The car outweighs the costs

Driving a car every day or using it for a long commute means that wearable items like tires and oil need to be changed at a more frequent interval. In this case, you don’t want to look at cars that are ridiculously expensive every time you need general maintenance — the most extreme cases would be cars like the Bugatti Veyron (but hey, if you can afford to pay the maintenance on that, by all means, we’d love to see it going through morning traffic!).

Another budget-crusher to keep in mind is fuel economy. Chances are, if you’re driving your car long distances, you won’t want to see the fuel gauge drop drastically every time you accelerate from a red light — like our Dodge Viper, which gets an abysmal 6mpg (thanks to tuning and a performance camshaft). Having a responsible fuel economy can make a big difference in a daily driver, but like always, there are plenty of people who would rather drive a sports car anyways.

2021 Tesla Model S refresh | Tesla

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Does the car offer what the average driver needs on a daily basis?

This question seems pretty obvious but can change depending on each person or family. While SUVs often offer more space for excessive luggage like groceries, soccer bags, and other things, there are plenty of sedans and coupes that can provide the right amount of cargo space. While some families or drivers will need more or less, there are some vehicles that come with barely useable trunk space, making them a stressful option for a daily driver.

For the most part, that means a lot of the more exotic sports cars on the market. While the Ford Mustang and Hellcat have usable backseat space and a surprisingly ample amount of trunk, other odd options for daily drivers, like the Lotus Elise or BMW I8, offer almost no space for anything more than a to-go bag from your lunch break. While this is a less important need for some people, the ideal daily drivers offer at least some trunk space, and typically back seats — but, of course, there are plenty exceptions for sports-car enthusiasts.

A woman and a child loading luggage in the trunk of a red Subaru Ascent.
A 2021 Subaru Ascent at the rear The 2021 | Subaru

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Just like with any car, it is up to each driver’s personal needs and preference when it comes to picking out a daily driver. Weighing pros and cons of each car means looking introspectively at what is going to make you happy without being completely impractical for what you need. But, if you’re like me, you’ll find yourself squeeze your groceries into the passenger seat of a Lotus Elise and going about my day without a care in the world.