The type of vehicle you drive can ease both the expense and pain of a long commute, according to the American Automobile Association. Mindful of how wearing commuting can be on drivers, the auto club evaluated hundreds of vehicle models and compiled a list of autos that make good cars for commuters. It evaluated vehicles on practicality, safety, comfort, fuel efficiency and affordability. • Nationally, the average motorist spends about 41 minutes a day traveling about 22.5 miles round trip to and from work. Here are the auto club's picks for vehicles that work well on long commutes. Los Angeles Times
Honda Insight: Among the best in fuel economy while being reasonably comfortable for the driver and front-seat passenger. AAA says it's also less costly and more fun to drive than some of its hybrid competitors.
Ford Fusion: Four-cylinder versions have a good combination of power, comfort and handling competence, the AAA says. The hybrid offers great fuel economy but comes with a higher purchase price.
Volkswagen Jetta TDI: A fine-running modern diesel that "is every bit as economical as the most miserly hybrids" and "fun to drive," the AAA says.
Hyundai Elantra: Good fuel efficiency combined with an interior that accommodates a driver and three passengers. AAA notes that the 10-year/100,000-mile warranty is a plus for high-mile commuting.
Subaru Legacy/Outback: These new models with four-cylinder engines perform well and offer enhanced rear seat legroom.
Honda Civic: Affordable, dependable, economical and comfortable, the Civic is one of the better performing compacts for a wide range of uses, including commuting, AAA says. The sporty 197-horsepower Si sedan also deserves consideration.
Chevrolet Malibu: Nicely styled competent performer. The four-cylinder models offer enough power for the daily commute and promise decent fuel economy. The passenger cabin is nicely finished and roomy, both in the front and rear, making it a good choice for carpooling.
Honda Accord: Good for the commute and good for family transportation, the Accord is roomy, solid and economical when equipped with the four-cylinder engine.
Mazda3: Crisp handling and above average power for the compact field. Fuel economy also is good. The ride can be a little flinty, so commuters facing long stretches of neglected urban highways may want to look elsewhere.
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If you want a bit more in luxury and styling, the auto club suggested:
BMW 3-Series: The first sports sedan remains the best by many measures. AAA said its engine choices "are impressive for their power and refinement, the handling is top notch and the build quality is excellent."
Mini Cooper: A premium subcompact, the Mini is both sporty and economical with fuel. Few cars are as much fun to drive and few small cars offer as many safety features.
Chevrolet Corvette: Here's one way to spice up the commute. The surprise is that when a Corvette is "driven appropriately, it can even return near-compact car fuel economy of around 26 mpg on the highway," AAA said.
Buick Enclave: Handling the commute for as many as eight people, the Enclave combines what the auto club called an exceptionally quiet ride with competent handling and surprising room in all three rows.
Mercedes-Benz GL: Roomy seating for seven, unexcelled refinement, all-wheel drive and the option of a surprisingly economical (for the vehicle size) diesel engine make this a highly desirable commuter for multi-adult carpools.
Volkswagen GTI: Sporty, fun to drive and able to return mid- to upper-20s mpg fuel economy results with the 200-horsepower turbocharged engine. Two adults can fit in the rear seat.