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
Dec 10, 2020

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 turning around and repeating the trip at the end of the day. 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, climate control 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 £6,395
Monthly finance from £125*

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.

If you’re on a budget, the previous-generation Insignia built between 2008 and 2017 is a great choice. Many Insignias would have led a stress-free life whizzing up and down the motorways and A-roads of Britain - and mostly avoiding the heavy wear and tear of a life in stop-start traffic - while ex-company cars are unlikely to have missed a service.

This means you're unlikely to come across a bad example and with finance costs starting from well under £200 per month it's a very good value option. Not to mention diesel engines capable of clearing 60mpg. Sometimes dull is just sensible.


2. Citroen C4 Cactus

Used Citroen C4 Cactus deals from £7,990
Monthly finance from £145*

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.


3. Peugeot 508

Used Peugeot 508 deals from £15,320
Monthly finance from £218*

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. The estate adds a touch more practicality and arguably even better looks.


4. Skoda Superb

Used Skoda Superb deals from £9,400
Monthly finance from £172*

'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, the Superb is a comfortable long distance commuter vehicle with a range of efficient petrol and diesel engines to choose from.

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.


5. Honda Civic

Used Honda Civic deals from £10,500
Monthly finance from £159*

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 62.8mpg. On a commute, hitting around 60mpg 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.


6. Lexus IS

Used Lexus IS deals from £16,750
Monthly finance from £233*

The Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class are likely to be three of the most common cars you see on your commute, but what if you fancied something a little different? Step forward the striking Lexus IS.

Thanks to its 2.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid, the Lexus IS could prove cheaper to run than a comparative BMW 320d, offering figures of 104g/km CO2 and 61.4mpg. Those are seriously impressive numbers for a car of this size, but be aware that while the Lexus will prove more economical around town thanks to its small electric motor and battery pack, the frugal diesel engine of the BMW is likely to make it the more economical motorway car.

The Lexus is also loaded with the latest technology and a host of safety systems, making this a standout performer. Throw into the mix Lexus’s legendary reputation for reliability and you’ll wonder why this is such a niche proposition. If you do lots of driving around town and on slower roads, the IS could be a great choice.


7. Nissan Leaf

Used Nissan Leaf deals from £17,991
Monthly finance from £228*

If your commute takes a long time but doesn't cover a super-long distance, an electric car could present a very cost effective – and quiet – alternative to a petrol or diesel car. If you can park up and charge at home, you don't need to worry about regular visits to the petrol station, either.

The Nissan Leaf offers the best blend of affordability and range out of the current batch of electric cars. In standard 40kWh form, the Leaf offers 168 miles of range, which should be enough for all but the longest commutes. If you can charge at work, then the Leaf could be an even more sensible choice.

And if the range of the standard car isn't enough for you, the 62kWh version, introduced in 2019, offers a more substantial 239 miles of electric motoring. that means that even a 100-mile commute should be possible with this Leaf - whether you can charge at work or not. Simply plug in overnight and you can leave for work in the morning with a full battery.


8. Mercedes C-Class

Used deals from £8,999
Monthly finance from £180*

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.


*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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