Finding a commuter car that is reliable, fun to drive, and comfortable can be a challenge. This is especially true if you need an SUV to keep multiple passengers happy. To make the search easier, U.S. News compiled a list of the best commuter SUVs for daily driving, each with a solid overall score of 7.3.
The GMC Terrain SUV
The GMC Terrain isn’t the most popular SUV, possibly due to its high price compared with others in the segment. It also has an underpowered base engine, but it can cruise around town just fine. The 170-hp four-cylinder is also highly efficient, averaging 26 mpg on city roads.
A four-cylinder with 252 hp is also on tap, but this one only gets 22 mpg in the city. Whatever engine you choose, the steering is well-weighted, and the SUV can handle winding roads with grace. The base engine comes with standard front-wheel drive.
Besides a few hard plastics, the interior of the GMC Terrain looks very upscale. It can seat up to five passengers on either cloth or leather upholstery, and the legroom is plentiful in the rear seat. However, this also means that there’s not as much space in the back for cargo.
The infotainment setup is very user-friendly, equipped with smartphone integration and a Wi-Fi hotspot. The GMC Terrain also has many standard safety offerings, including a Teen Driver system. Additionally, this SUV also has great crash test scores from both the IIHS and NHTSA. The only area where it scored below average was the headlights test.
The Chevrolet Equinox
The Chevy Equinox has the same base engine as the GMC Terrain. It feels underpowered under heavy throttle and some critics also felt that the transmission is constantly jumping to higher gears. Edmunds wasn’t pleased with the fact that you can’t deactivate the stop-start function.
While it may be a nuisance to use, the stop-start technology definitely enhances the Chevy Equinox’s fuel economy. An Equinox with the optional turbo-four is significantly more exciting to drive and still gets decent mileage. During real-world testing, Edmunds managed to average over 34 mpg driving around town and on the highway. It has good handling, but it struggles to park in tight spots because it turns wide.
The Chevy Equinox comes with plenty of standard technology to keep everyone entertained on daily commutes. Bluetooth, smartphone integration, and a few USB ports are all included. It also has good safety scores and an excellent predicted reliability rating.
However, the interior quality itself isn’t quite up to par with some of its rivals. The seats are supportive enough for longer trips, but opting for the optional sunroof can restrict headroom in the second row.
The Buick Encore luxury SUV
In contrast, the Buick Encore’s cabin is filled with premium materials, as well as plenty of room for adult passengers in both rows. The seats are pillowy soft, but Consumer Reports said that there’s not enough thigh support.
The Buick Encore has many standard tech features, but no safety features are included. Additionally, some critics think that the ample amount of knobs and buttons on the center stack create a cluttered appearance.
Still, its compact dimensions make it an excellent car for a city dweller. It drives quietly in any situation thanks to its noise reduction technology, and its suspension can absorb most hard bumps. Unlike some SUVs in its class, critics reported no problems squeezing the Buick Encore into tight parking spaces.
However, its base engine is very weak, so it may not be the best car to take on the highway. It makes up for its lack of power with good gas mileage, averaging 25 mpg on city roads.