What's the best car for frequent travel

I recently got a new job that requires 80% travel with an average of 150miles per day driving. I need to get a used car that is safe, has good mileage, and won’t break the bank. Any suggestions??

A Crown Vic…Your home away from home…

what is your budget? This will help us help you a bit better, though Caddyman gave a great choice.
Take extended test drives of whatever you are looking at; it’ll do you no good if the car you’re driving is getting 40mpg but leaves you feeling crippled with a bad back at the end of the day.
I will add that, if you can, get heated seats. This can allieviate some minor discomfort, even in summer time

The “best” car for you is the one that fits YOU the best. Cars are like shoes – what fits me, many not fit you. Hit as many new car dealers as possible and drive as many models as you can (kind of like my girlfriend’s shoe shopping).

When you decide on “the one”, start looking for a 3 - 4 year-old, one owner used car with low miles and all the service records. Have a PPI done and buy it for 1/2 - 1/3 MSRP.

Good luck!

To echo the others, the most important thing is the seats. Discomfort turns to pain rather quickly and that can jeopardize your job performance. Consider the car an investment. Drive any potential candidate for 2 hours straight before you buy. The second thing is noise. A noisy car can also hamper your job performance. You can, if necessary, wear ear plugs or ear muffs while driving.

If you don’t want to break the bank with repair bills, stay away from Volvo, VW, BMW, Audi, and MB. With that kind of daily mileage you don’t want something too old, which will involve more frequent repairs. You might want to look at rental companies (Hertz, Enterprise) that are selling cars from their rental fleets. Most should be good for a few years of relatively trouble free driving.

Thanks for the comments, everyone. I do not want to spend more than $15k and I want it to be used.

With that many miles per day you need a reasonably comfortable car with good seats and good relaibility. The Ford Fusion, Mazda 6, Honda Accord, and Toyota Camry come to mind. The Crown Victoria is OK, but consumes a lot more gas. Four cylinder models in the above are more economical and cost less to maintain.

Stay away from AWD or 4WD vehicles; they’ll cost you more in fuel and maintenance.

A Volkswagen Passat is comfortable, but I don’t like to see you buried in expensive repairs after one year.

Take a look at a Chevy Cruze LS or 1LT. The only year used is 2011. The LS is definitely less than $15,000 and you might find a 1LT on a dealer’s lot for $15,000. You can save more with a 2010 Cobalt SS. It’s around $15,000 at the dealer and around $13,000 from a private seller.

Most Vics will deliver 23-26 mpg on the highway…Around town, somewhat less, 16-18…But at least, after 150 miles, you don’t need help getting out of the car…For $15K, you can upgrade to a Grand Marq…

Fuel cost is usually one of the smaller expenses associated with vehicle ownership…

A basic Camry can give youover 35 mpg highway with comfort equal to most cars on the road. It’s reliability is exemplary making it’s long term ownership,cost very good. IMO it’s a sound recommendation someone could make for your use.

“Stay away from AWD or 4WD vehicles; they’ll cost you more in fuel and maintenance.”

Well that is true but, if your driving conditions call for it, then for for AWD or 4WD. It is a matter of your driving requirements. If you have a job that requires your travel no matter what the conditions (as it does for a couple of my neighbors who are medical professionals) then that is the cost to having a car that is more likely to be able to get through the snow and ice.

Note AWD or 4WD does not equate to additional safety.  It does mean that if you survive the events that get you stuck in the snow or ice, you will be more likely to drive yourself out. AWS or 4WD  will not keep you from loosing control and sliding off the road

I would not recomend an awd car because of any inherent problems in them, but you’ll never get the best bang for the buck unless you drive on slippery roads most days out of the winter. Then yes, they will help keep you on the road.
In the $15k range, you will give up significant economy over the long haul. I advise against them for high mileage travel you intend doing for that price.
Btw, Joseph. I feel that being " able to get you through snow and ice" but “not keep you from loosing control and sliding off the road” could be construed as contradictory statements. :=) You maybe slowly coming around !

For $15000, there are a large number of used 4-cylinder midsize and compact sedans that are comfortable, reliable, and get at least 30mpg highway. Like others have said, test them out and pay attention to the seat comfort. Don’t just fall for a soft cushy seat; they can lose support after an hour behind the wheel and become very uncomfortable. And make sure the driving position fits you; once you are the right distance from the pedals, is the steering wheel more of a stretch than you would like? Is there a nice dead pedal to rest your left foot on while cruising down the highway? Does the seat sit too high or low to the floor? A telescoping steering wheel and height adjustable from seat will help here, and a lot of this will depend on personal preference.

Also pay attention to road noise; this is easily overlooked on a test drives and becomes very apparent once on the highway. The Honda Accord and Civic have very supportive front seats but loud road noise.

I’ll bet you can get a nice Chevy Malibu, Ford Fusion, Nissan Altima, or Chevy Cruze within your range, all of which are comfortable, quiet, and efficient.

As an owner of two of the cars mentioned (Toyota Camry and Mazda6), I would wholeheartedly recommend NOT picking the Camry of the vehicles listed by others, based on my experiences and those of family members with other model years (1996, 1998, 2002). Are they reliable? Generally, yes. Would I want to spend 150 miles per day in one? Shoot me. They’re deathly boring vehicles with questionable steering feedback - it feels like a wet noodle is part of the steering linkage. Even my 1997 Taurus felt sporty by comparison, and that is by no means a sporty car.

But you should REALLY consider renting a car before buying, and driving it for a few days. The Fusion was second on our purchase list when we picked up our 2010 Mazda6, and the Accord a very VERY distant third (didn’t like its handling as much, the tester had a transmission flare, and the dealers were incredibly obnoxious, refusing to even allow us to test drive on non-perfect roads or ANY highways). Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to drive a Fusion on extended drives as well. It would be a good car for me around town, but I found its seats to lack thigh support for long drives. Of course, I’m 6’6", so someone of more average height might be fine. But the last thing you would ever want to do is buy a car that you’ll be spending a lot of time in based on a 10 minute test drive at a dealership.

The sportiness of the car may be irrelevant for the poster. Some people couldn’t care less about steering feel or a suspension lean. The type of driving also matters; if this is a 150 mile interstate slog in traffic, a creamy smooth isolating Camry might be just the ticket. To me, the importance of steering feel diminishes in that type of driving. My problem with the Camry is long distance seat comfort; I like more support and longer bottom cushions.

"But you should REALLY consider renting a car before buying, and driving it for a few days. " Great advice.

While my choice of cars would certainly not be the same as eraser1998 and I don’t know what your’s would be, but putting a few miles on a prospective purchase is a very good idea no matter what you needs and wants are.

emajor - that’s a valid point that people’s opinions might differ.

But I firmly believe that a car that feels like its skating on ice even on dry pavement because of a complete lack of steering feedback makes driving dangerous when conditions do get iffy, as you can’t tell how the vehicle is really performing because of the lack of feedback.

And for handling, even if you don’t push the handling limits of a car on a regular basis, it is a positive for safety to have good handling. I’ve never received a ticket for a moving violation or been in an accident, and I intend to keep it that way. I drive very conservatively, but sometimes that handling is needed to keep things safe. Such as the time a truck ahead of me on the freeway started dropping improperly secured chairs on the road. The vehicle behind me was tailgating (badly), so it wasn’t safe for me to brake too hard, but the Mazda easily took me through that obstacle course. I don’t think the Camry would have been able to. Or the time a semi decided to change lanes into my lane without looking as I was passing him. The Mazda had no problems handling the maneuvers needed to avoid an accident, and I don’t believe the Camry would have been able to.

And you don’t have to sacrifice comfort - I find the Mazda to be very comfortable on long trips, with an adequately smooth ride (not as isolated as the Camry, but you’d be hard pressed to say it was significantly rougher except on the absolute worst roads). In fact, I’ve been able to drive it 14 hours at a time, whereas the Camry has my back in pain within 2-3.

Honestly, I think it’s impossible to successfully recommend a commuting vehicle for another person. The best you can do is get a rating magazine, CR perhaps, scour the local market for ine that looks like it’d be a good bet for reliability, test drive any that do, and have whatever one(s) you select as suiting you checked over thoroughly by your own shop before buying.

Comfort is critcal on a commute, and what you find comfortable may be totally entirely different from what I find comfortable. Buying a car is like buying a suit, and the odds of my perfect choice fitting you are about the same as the odds of my suit fitting you. Caddyman’s Crown Vic is no doubt perfect for him, but I wouldn’t want to spend 5 miles in one. Way too big for me.

Good luck.