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With the weather cooling off in fall and winter, you might reevaluate your current daily driver car. Well, there are plenty of options out there. Still, making a decision hinges on defining your requirements for a commute-friendly car. So, can a cheap used car or AWD ride make a perfect daily driver in 2023? Or is a vehicle’s day-to-day dependability a matter of factors like tires and technology? 

What is considered a daily driver?

A “daily driver” is any vehicle a person purchases or assigns for regular driving duties, like commuting, running errands, and making it to appointments. For many drivers, that means something dependable, efficient, and spacious enough for their articles and groceries. 

As a result, the term is more subjective than established terminology in the automotive sphere, like station wagon or minivan. Indeed, anything can be a daily driver, from a large pickup truck to a high-dollar luxury sedan. However, some factors make life in your daily driver much easier, like cars with AWD, seasonally appropriate tires, seat heaters, and remote start. 

What should you look for in a commuter?

A white 2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid, a capable AWD car and daily driver, drives on a city street.
A 2023 Toyota Corolla is a drama-free commuter | Toyota

Drivers should evaluate their regular needs and budget before deciding on a daily driver. For instance, if you intend to drive with large quantities of cargo, like delivery driving for Instacart, you may opt for a larger trunk or usable back seat. The 2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata’s 4.6 cubic feet of cargo volume might not cut it. 

Furthermore, your local weather trends and climate should inform your choice of daily driver. While a cheap used car with all-season tires and front-wheel drive (FWD) might be a tempting and wallet-friendly option, it will be less sure-footed and dependable in inclement weather like snow and ice. As a result, if you live in a region with severe winter weather, a winter-ready AWD car or 4X4 truck with dedicated winter tires is a much safer and more reliable way to battle the elements.

A cheap AWD car with four doors, modern technology, and budget-friendly fuel economy could be the right recipe for a drama-free daily driver. The 2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid LE won’t be as fun to commute in as a 2023 Ford Mustang GT. But with its four-door hybrid platform and 50 mpg combined, it’s a much better bet for your daily grind. 

What is a fun daily driver?

Fun daily drivers can be anything from small, fun roadsters to big, brutish muscle cars and performance sedans. However, drivers often trade practicality for fun in their regular rides. For instance, a voracious, V8-powered 2023 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack gets as little as 14 mpg in the city.

However, a fun daily driver could be your ticket to weekly whimsy if you shop smart or live somewhere with light traffic density. A Dodge Challenger GT is quite a bit larger and heavier than a comparable Ford Mustang EcoBoost. Still, its grippy AWD, integrated Apple CarPlay, and more generous trunk space make for an apt grocery-getter. 

Can a vintage car be a daily driver?


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A vintage or classic car is an admittedly tempting prospect for regular use. However, while possible, it is far from prudent. Unforeseen issues, unrefined platforms, and stone-age tech could make commuting in traffic or bad weather frustrating or impossible. 

I drove a 1967 Chevrolet Camaro in Southern California for three years until I shifted my daily duties to a motorcycle. While it adds life to an otherwise miserable task like driving on I-5, compromise was the name of the game. Mind you, my same manageable commute would have been untenable in other parts of the country. Still, adding modern touches like fuel injection and modern rubber can transform a classic car’s daily usability.   

What do you look for in a daily driver? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!