When most of us buy a car, its primary purpose is for use in the daily commute. This means that when we’re shopping for a new vehicle, we should look for features that make the day-to-day drive as smooth and comfortable as possible. Those features may not be fun or flashy, but they’re the things that make sitting in rush-hour traffic a little easier to tolerate.
Here are a few things to look for when you’re buying a commuter car:
1. Automatic Transmission (or a tall first gear)
Most popular cars these days have an automatic transmission, and this is a good choice for the stop-start traffic that you’re likely to encounter during the daily commute. If, however, you’re buying an older vehicle, or price constraints force you to look for cheaper manual cars, try to get one with a tall first gear and enough torque to let you navigate slow, stop-start traffic without having to change up and down all the time.
2. Comfortable Seating
What makes a comfortable car seat is rather subjective. Some people like lumbar support, other people find that it gets in the way. Some people like to sit fairly upright, others prefer a bit more of an angle to their seat. Whatever you prefer, pay careful attention to how you sit while you’re going for the test drive. Are you sure that you’ll enjoy driving this car for more than a few minutes? If you have any doubts, spend a few minutes adjusting the seat to see if you can make it more comfortable. If you’re still not happy, don’t buy.
3. Low Vibrations
A noisy, bumpy commute is not a good way to start the day. If you’re bothered by noise, or do a lot of driving and don’t want to have to deal with feeling every bump in the road, then choose a car with a softly sprung suspension and smaller wheels. Note that soft suspension doesn’t handle as well as sport-tuned suspension. Most car makers try to offer a compromise between confident handling and a gentle ride. Experiment until you find what feels best for you.
4. Fuel Economy
Hybrid cars are a good choice for people that want to keep running costs down, but most well-looked after newer vehicles should offer decent mileage. Don’t underestimate the importance of that BMW service appointment in keeping your car in top condition, though. Fuel efficiency can decrease massively with general wear and tear.
5. Interior Features
Don’t underestimate the little things. A well designed cup-holder, a place to store your key-cards and work mobile phone, and a good radio will make life a lot easier while you’re on the road. Sat Navs are standard on many new cars so try and negotiate one to be specified if you are buying new. If you like listening to the radio, try to get a car with steering-wheel mounted controls for the stereo. This will let you turn the volume up and down without taking your hands off the wheel, or your eyes off the road.