Best cars for commuters 2012
Elon Musk could save the world. Or at least revolutionize your morning drive.
The Tesla and SpaceX founder released his $109,000 electric Roadster last year, but a new project, the Model S sedan, could be the perfect thing for eco-minded commuters: its 85 kWh motor has a range of 300 miles on one charge and will go 0-60mph in 4.4 seconds, he says.
Add in a plush Nappa leather interior, seven-speaker sound system and 17-inch center console (it looks like an iPad), and you might even start to look forward to those mornings spent enduring exhaust fumes on the 405.
Musk, for his part, says the car itself will be much more than just endurable.
"You want people to buy the car because it is the best car," he says. "You don't want them saying, I'm going to accept something else just because it's electric."
The best part about it? After tax rebates, the base version Model S will cost less than $50,000, with the performance version costing $79,900.
Unfortunately, it won't be available until later this year—and there's a considerable waiting list. Until then, consider the Toyota Prius, Chevrolet Volt, or Ford Fusion for weekday jaunts. Along with six others, they made our list of the year's best cars for commuting.
Behind the Numbers
To determine our list we started with new vehicles listed as Consumer Reports "Recommended Picks" for this year. Recommended Picks are models that have average or better predicted reliability and that meet Consumer Reports' safety standards; they also had to have performed well in accelerating, braking, handling, comfort and other user-oriented tests.
Then we selected from that group those vehicles that earned the "Most Reliable" distinction for this year—and crosschecked them with CR's "Most Fuel-Efficient" winners as well. Nine vehicles, including hybrids, sedans and even a couple SUVs, made the final cut.
One interesting note: We didn't put a price limit on the contenders, since there are cars at any MSRP that will facilitate a decent drive to work—and, let's face it, we'd all rather drive a fly ride than a bargain-basement beater. Interestingly enough, all of our finalists cost well under $40,000. And if you remove the hybrids, which carry a hefty premium for their advanced technology, they all cost less than $23,000.