The number of people spending more than 2 hours getting to and from work each weekday has gone up by almost a third since 2011, according to government statistics. With more than two-thirds of all commutes made by car, Brits are spending a lot of hours behind the wheel in order to make a living.
Are you one of the millions using A-roads and motorways daily? If so, you’ll want to be driving a car that’s reliable, comfortable and doesn’t guzzle fuel. If your commute starts or ends in the city centre, the creation of Clean Air Zones – such as London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone – means you face restrictions and have to pay a daily fee if you drive an older car that doesn’t meet current emissions standards.
The good news is there’s no shortage of used cars that fit the bill in terms of performance and emissions, so here are 10 of the best cars for long commutes.
As a commuting option, the Ford Mondeo was arguably a game-changer when it first emerged in the mid-90s – so much so that it came to define a specific section of society. It’s long since shaken off that unhelpful association, but the Mondeo’s appeal lives on.
If you’re thinking about getting a used Mondeo, the Mk5 (2015-) is great value – especially if it’s a Euro 6 diesel, which are exempt from the Clean Air Zones being established in city centres to help tackle air pollution. The 1.5 TDCi, for example, has an official MPG figure of 78.5. Other plus points of the Mondeo are how it handles on motorways (and in towns), the huge boot and its spacious, comfortable interior.
For parents, you’ll need a vehicle that doubles up as a family-friendly option – as well as dealing with the rigours of a long daily commute. For all-round versatility, the Nissan Qashqai is up there with the best cars for long distance driving.
Features of this crossover include the comfortable front seats, which are a must for anyone spending a lot of time driving. The 1.5-litre dCi diesel is the pick of the bunch for fuel economy (74.3mpg), which will likely be lower in the real world depending on your driving style – but is still incredibly economical.
Ford Focus ST
When you’re racking up the miles doing the same journey getting to and from work every week, the experience can quickly become dull and repetitive. The Ford Focus ST should be the option you look at if an injection of vitality is what you want when weighing up the best cars for long commutes.
The Focus ST’s 2015 facelift gave it a much sharper drive. Precise steering and firm front suspension make it excellent at coping with twisting, turning A and B roads. Plus, the 2.0 TDCi boasts an official fuel economy of 67.3mpg.
Like the Focus ST, the Peugeot 2018 benefited from a 2015 facelift – and now stands out as one of the most economical non-hybrids around. The 1.6 BlueHDI 100bhp diesel has official fuel economy figures of 94mpg. Even taking into account real world variances, it’ll take some beating.
Not only does the 208 keep your fuel costs down, but low emission figures mean many used models first registered before April 2017 are exempt from car tax. It’s not all about affordability though. The 208 is attractive both outside and in, as well as having composed handling and the ride comfort you need if driving long distances.
The effortlessly classy Volvo V90 turns commuting long distances into a distinctly laid-back affair. If luxury and comfort are going to be big factors in deciding what to buy, the Swedish manufacturer is well worth a look. The diesel engine is quiet too, so it won’t give you a headache.
Its light, airy and stylish interior aside, the S90 isn’t a drain on your finances either. Its entry-level D4 model has an official economy of 64.2mpg – the best of the diesel-engine options. You’ll get more than 100mpg from the T8 AWD plug-in hybrid, although used versions aren’t widely available just yet.
There’s a reason the Toyota Prius is the car of choice for thousands of private hire drivers across the UK. Incredibly reliable and equally as efficient, the Prius holds its own as one of the best cars for long commutes and can easily help you overcome any fears you might have about running out of juice.
The latest edition of the Prius has an official economy of 83.1mpg, or even 235mpg if you choose the plug-in hybrid and can charge it regularly. Inside, the Prius can deliver a comfortable ride and a well-equipped cabin for those long journeys.
If first impressions count in your line of work, the BMW 520D could be the best car for long distance driving for you. It looks the part on the outside, but – crucially – it produces in terms of performance too. The ride is very comfortable, while handling is first-class on motorways and back roads alike.
One of the best features of the 520D is how it combines all the luxury touches you’d expect from the German car maker with surprising efficiency and affordability. The fuel economy and CO2 emissions figures are impressive – officially returning 69mpg and emitting 108g/km of CO2.
With the Hyundai i30, you have one of the best long-distance commuter cars if you’re more focused on what’s under the bonnet than how it looks. It makes light work of long-distance driving, offering a comfortable and easy-going experience.
The i30 is a cost-effective choice, not least if you need to balance the demands of family life with the daily commute. The 1.6 diesel engine is the one for driving long distances, officially pushing 70mpg – though more likely coming in around 50mpg.
Range Rover Evoque
The sleek design and strong appeal of the Range Rover Evoque (2011) should leave you in no doubt that it’s up there with the best cars for long commutes. Anyone who’s more familiar with coupés or hatchbacks won’t feel too out of place with this SUV, which draws on the best of both.
The Evoque is a superb long-distance cruiser, which is essential for drivers who spend much of their commute on motorways and dual carriageways. The 2.0 TD4 has a reasonable official fuel economy of up to 58mpg and packs a punch too, which makes it one of the most popular versions to buy.
Tesla Model S
A 2016 survey billed the Tesla Model S as the world’s “most satisfying consumer car”, which means it has a lot to live up to. Fortunately, the Model S strikes all the right notes if you need a vehicle that can go the distance on a daily basis – more than 300 miles from one charge, being the quoted figure.
Yes, the initial cost is more for those with a higher budget. But, there’s much to be said for the running costs, while its quiet and relaxing drive will prepare you for another busy day at the office – or calm you down as you embark on the journey back home.
If your journey to and from work is a time-consuming one, hopefully our guide to the best cars for long distance driving has inspired you. You can find a fantastic deal on each option listed here by searching our used cars for sale. And if you’re set on a particular one, why not see if you’re eligible for car finance and make your trip to work a much more enjoyable one?
Image courtesy of iStock.