Need a commuter vehicle, what would you buy?

I currently drive a 2003 Jeep Wrangler, which might get 17mpg on the highway. I’m looking at a commute of 35 miles each way, mostly highway (admittedly a bad-traffic highway, so I won’t be driving that fast most of the time), and bad mileage aside I just don’t think I want to commute in the Jeep (except maybe if it snows).

I’ve been thinking a Ford Focus Electric would be a fun forward-looking choice, and I’ve read the Ford Fusion Hybrid is a great commuter (I’m a little Ford-biased because there’s a Ford dealer in town which would make servicing convenient). But maybe a motorcycle would be worth considering-- I could drive it in the carpool lane and speed the journey!

Anyway, I’m looking for and am open to suggestions from those who know. Thank you.

In view of rising gas prices in the future, I would get the smallest vehicle with good seats. Almost any vehicle will have a much better ride than the Wrangler. I would forget about hybrid, a Ford Fiesta with the economy option will do better, at less cost.

My choice would be a Ford Fiesta or Mazda 2, both are good cars and will get about twice the gas mileage of your Wrangler.

I’d buy (and did buy) the one that soothed my aching back.

If I were young again I’d buy a motorcycle.

If I were rich I’d buy a 2012 Morgan 3-wheeler. They’re making them again.

I wouldn’t go for the electric with a 70 mile round trip, you’ll be suffering from ‘range anxiety’ day in, day out. I have a MKZ hybrid (same as the Fusion), get 38 mpg average, and I’ve had no problems.

Kids? Wife? Girlfriend? Standup bass player? 2-door? 4-door? Hatchback? Climate?

I like Fords and would recommend the Fusion (hybrid or not) or any Focus. I personally would not get an all-electric in your situation, because with 70 miles of the 100 mile range used up by your commute, you really couldn’t go anywhere after work without going home to change cars. And that assumes you get the advertised range, which by the way will be severely reduced if you live someplace that has hot summers or cold winters.

But, all-electric would certainly give you something to talk about over coffee.

If your 35 mile commute is mostly highway, you won’t get much benefit from a hybrid.

I would start by choosing the size class you want, then narrow it down by whichever factors are most important (mileage, comfort, styling, price, dealer convenience, etc) until you have a reasonable number to test drive.

Edit: All wheel drive gives you lower mileage than front-wheel alone. I drive a V6 AWD Fusion because my wife is insecure in the snow; I would have been just as happy with the 4 cyl FWD but that’s marriage for you. Depending on where you live, of course.

If I was commuting 70 miles a day, I’d want to enjoy the ride as much as I could. A 3-4 year-old BMW 3 Series would be my first choice. Put on four real snow tires for winter and you will be good to go.

Honda Fit.

Of the choices on your list , I like the Fusion best.

So many of these similar questions ( which one to buy ) are answered with the usual list knowledgeable technical data from most posters.
It seems that I’m the only one who stresses the importance of servicing ( in warranty and beyond ) when considering several equally acceptable choices.
( or at least no one else expounds on the subject after I bring it up )

So I’m glad to see you aware of your service options and mention it as a deal maker before buying.

I have to agree with twotone. It’s not all about fuel economy. I had a similar commute for years that I made with a full-sized Bronco that got about 10 MPG. even when gas was over $4 a gallon. I liked the seats in the Bronco, I liked the ice cold A/C, and I liked the nice sound system I had in it. I would recommend finding a car you like first and foremost, fuel economy should take a back seat to driving pleasure IMHO. I for one would be miserable if I had to drive a car I didn’t like every day for the sake of saving a fuel bucks on gas.

I Agree. Life Is Short. Get Something Comfortable And Quiet. Buy Something Safe ! I Commute In A Bonneville, The Wife In An Impala. We Each Get About 30 MPG. If Your Commuter Job Doesn’t Pay Well Enough To Buy What You’d Like, Change Jobs, Not Cars.


You can get a lot of car for the price of an electric or hybrid vehicle. I’d put them at the bottom of the list because of the premium you pay for those types of vehicles. And there’s no way I’d drive an electric unless you can charge it at work. You’ll be lucky to get both directions on a single charge.

If you still want a hybrid, a 2WD Ford Escape/Mercury Mariner/Mazda Tribute hybrid (same trucks basically) get 34 MPG city and 31 MPG highway. That’s far better than your Jeep. A Toyota Highlander hybrid is rated at 28 city and 28 highway. You can double your mileage and still have a SUV if you want. Check prices for the hybrid and nonhybrid models, EPA mileage, and see how long it will take to pay the difference in purchase price with gas savings.

An hour long commute, or more, comfort should be higher on the list than MPG alone. If you’re comfortable in a car that gets 27mpg then it’s a good thing. If you’re getting 40+mpg, but are so cramped you’re using your hands to push the pedals and are steering with your feet, that’s a BAD thing.

Close to 40 years ago a guy told me to buy the biggest and most comfortable car I could for my 100 mile round trip commute. I’ve always driven full size or mid size for the comfort and never regretted it. Just about any reasonably sized GM vehicle at least will approach 30 MPG. What good is saving gas if you’re squashed by a truck or your back is shot.

“If you’re comfortable in a car that gets 27mpg then it’s a good thing. If you’re getting 40+mpg, but are so cramped you’re using your hands to push the pedals and are steering with your feet, that’s a BAD thing.”

That’s the nice thing with the Fusion hybrid - 38 mpg and comfortable, plenty of room for 4.

Thank you, everyone, for your replies, they’re very useful for use in my considerations. I’ll update this thread when it is all sorted out.