Best cars for long commutes

Faced with a long commute and want the best car for the job to cut the trip down to size? Check out these top value options

Gavin Braithwaite-Smith Craig Hale
Jun 11, 2021

The average UK daily commute is 59 minutes, although some people spend up to two hours or more getting to work every weekday. And then, at the end of a tiresome day, it's time to face that same trip in reverse. If you commute by car and face a long trip twice a day, you’re going to need a vehicle that’s fit for purpose.

But what should you look for when searching for a car to tackle a lengthy drive to work? Comfort is a big consideration, as are low running costs. In the past, this would have meant buying a diesel car, but the modern breed of economical petrol cars are more than up to the task, too. You can check out our list of the best motorway cars for the most economical options for high-speed trips.

You’re probably going to want a few toys to make the long commute more enjoyable, too. Sat-nav, smartphone connectivity, air-conditioning and a digital radio are all big selling points, while heated seats would be a nice touch. Oh, and don’t forget a cup holder so you can safely cart around a flask of industrial-strength coffee to get you going in the morning.

The BuyaCar website features a range of mile-munchers that are more than up to the challenge of a long commute. Here, we reveal eight cars that represent the smart way to tackle the motorway. Keep reading for our top low-cost long commute machines.

Best cars for long commutes

1. Vauxhall Insignia

Used Vauxhall Insignia deals from £9,500
Monthly finance from £162*

The Vauxhall Insignia might be as exciting as watching paint dry with your accountant, but it’s one of the best commuting cars you can buy. It helps that it was designed for Europe’s company car drivers, so you can expect serious long-distance comfort, low running costs and a long list of standard equipment.

BuyaCar has 106 examples of the latest generation, which we think looks much smarter than the version it replaced in 2018 thanks to its sleeker coupe-esque design, which consists of a raked roofline, long bonnet and upright grille. The 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine promises upwards of 50mpg for those who prefer to stay away from diesel, but the 1.6-litre diesel suits this car's commuting style a little better.

If you're on a budget, later versions of the previous generation are equipped with the 1.6-litre diesel engine, and may represent a better saving.

VAUXHALL INSIGNIA BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Citroen C4 Cactus

Used Citroen C4 Cactus deals from £8,246
Monthly finance from £148*

You don’t have to buy a large upmarket car to tackle a long commute. For something smaller, with a generous helping of French flair, try the Citroen C4 Cactus. Following an update in 2018, the family hatchback has a more upmarket feel, with one or two tricks up its sleeve.

We’ll spare you the technical details, but the appeal of the C4 Cactus can be summarised in one word: comfort. The suspension has been set up to iron out all but the worst creases on Britain’s lumpy, bumpy and scarred roads, while the seats offer the most comfort this side of the DFS sale.

Cornering isn’t a C4 Cactus strong point, due to its soft suspension, but when the main bends you encounter are the entry to the motorway services, this isn’t a big problem. With low used prices you can pick up a Cactus for a lot less than a magic carpet - the next most comfortable mode of transport.

CITROEN C4 CACTUS BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Peugeot 508

Used Peugeot 508 deals from £16,103
Monthly finance from £228*

The Peugeot 508 is one of the most striking looking cars you can buy at any price. Like the Insignia, it has been designed with company car drivers in mind, so you can expect low emissions, high fuel economy, supreme comfort and plenty of toys.

If it looks distinctive on the outside, things are even better on the inside. The dashboard design and cabin quality are a match for the 508’s more expensive rivals, with frameless windows adding a touch of class.

The current Peugeot 508 was introduced in 2018 and is the one to buy if you want to turn heads on the daily commute, especially in GT Line trim with its large alloy wheels. The estate adds a touch more practicality and arguably even better looks. A plug-in hybrid model was later introduced in 2020, and while it can travel over 30 miles on electric power alone, it'll cost you from  to buy on BuyaCar (still far cheaper than a brand new example).

PEUGEOT 508 BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Skoda Superb

Used Skoda Superb deals from £9,696
Monthly finance from £182*

'You don’t need a Mercedes if you have a Skoda Superb.' That’s how we summarised Skoda’s big family car when we reviewed it on BuyaCar. It offers Mercedes-matching levels of comfort and equipment for the price of a Ford Mondeo.

Regardless of whether you opt for the spacious hatchback or the cavernous estate (and it really is cavernous), the Superb is a comfortable long distance commuter vehicle with a range of efficient petrol and diesel engines to choose from, as well as a slick dual-clutch automatic gearbox.

The top-spec models are as luxurious as any German saloon, while the diesel engines are economical enough - and the fuel tank large enough - to ensure you’ll spend less time filling up with fuel.

SKODA SUPERB HATCHBACK BUYERS' GUIDE
SKODA SUPERB ESTATE BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Honda Civic

Used Honda Civic deals from £10,399
Monthly finance from £164*

For something a little different, the Honda Civic is worth a look. Not only does it offer excellent long distance comfort, but it’s also available with one of the most impressive small petrol engines on sale today.

The 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine offers punchy performance, a surprisingly sporty soundtrack, while offering up to 63mpg. On a commute, hitting around 55mpg shouldn't be too difficult if you drive carefully.

The styling won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but the British-built Civic is likely to be super reliable. So whether you pick one up with much warranty left or not, you shouldn't have to worry about it failing to start in the morning.

HONDA CIVIC BUYERS' GUIDE

6. BMW 5 Series

Used Lexus IS deals from £11,995
Monthly finance from £213*

Very little comes close to the 5 Series when it comes to getting comfortable behind the wheel on a long journey. Its range of punchy petrol and diesel engines make it fun to drive, too, despite its super-relaxing automatic transmission. The manual transmission that came as standard on lower spec models doesn't quite suit the car's nature.

The pick of the bunch is the 520d - its 2.0-litre diesel is punchy enough in most circumstances, and is the most efficient. If you want power, maybe the 530d would be better. Equally, the 2.0-litre 520i and 530i models are a much more sensible choice over the 540i's 3.0-litre engine. To look the part, go for a widely available M Sport trim.

2010-2017 BMW 5 SERIES BUYERS' GUIDE

2017-PRESENT BMW 5 SERIES BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Hyundai Ioniq

Used Nissan Leaf deals from £17,995
Monthly finance from £259*

If, by long commute, you mean a short distance that takes a lot of time, something like the Hyundai Ioniq would be a suitable contender. Its 193-mile range is ample for city workers commuting in from the suburbs.

The Ioniq is spacious inside, and comes with a lot of standard equipment. It also comes in plug-in or self-charging hybrid forms for those who aren't ready to make the leap to electric power. Regardless of version, look for top-spec Premium SE trim for all the gadgets and gizmos.

HYUNDAI IONIQ ELECTRIC BUYERS' GUIDE

HYUNDAI IONIQ BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Mercedes C-Class

Used deals from £9,390
Monthly finance from £178*

If you’ve ever travelled along the M4 corridor during rush hour, you’d swear blind that every second car was a Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Thanks to affordable finance, the C-Class is a popular executive saloon, which means there’s plenty of choice on the used car market - meaning even better value and that you should be able to find a model in the colour you want.

In fact, buying second-hand means you’ll get much more for your money full stop. Especially if you find one loaded with desirable optional extras that would have cost thousands new, but add much less to the price second-hand. Along with the saloon, there are also estate, coupe and cabriolet versions available, depending whether style or practicality tops your wish list.

It’s not the most exciting car to drive, but for sheer relaxed cruising and a dash of prestige, the C-Class is hard to ignore. Especially as used prices are far less than you might expect, considering that Mercedes badge on the bonnet.

MERCEDES C-CLASS BUYERS' GUIDE

*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

Buyacar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.

 

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