Any vehicle can be a daily driver, that is, if you are willing to put up with a certain level of punishment. A great daily driver should be reliable, comfortable, economical (or at least decent on gas), and ideally offer a touch of luxury or some fun-to-drive characteristic. There is no perfect car for everyone, but there are some that stand above the others, at all price points. No matter what category you’re shopping, take a long look at these top daily drivers.
Bigger isn’t always better. Tiny cars like the Honda CRX Si used to be super affordable, achieve impressive gas mileage, and make everyday driving fun. While the CRX is long gone, the Ford Fiesta is its spiritual successor, packing huge fun into a small and light package. The Fiesta actually looks good for a small car, which is a pretty shocking achievement in this class. The interior is well appointed too, and of course, it’ll save you money with up to 41 MPG highway. Despite the tiny 1.6-liter four cylinder engine, the Fiesta zips around town, pretending it’s a little race car. Want even more bang for the buck? Look to the ST version with an upgraded engine and suspension.
Midsize sedans are still around after all this time due to functionality and practicality. The ability to cart around four real-sized adults in silence and comfort has plenty of real-world applications, and adding good gas mileage to the mix makes mid-sizers like the Mazda6 a winner. While competitors like the Honda Accord deliver similar five-seat passenger space and mid-30s gas mileage, the Mazda wins on two additional points. First, with Mazda’s crisp “Soul of Motion” design, there’s nothing else as attractive in this class. The Ford Fusion is close, but the 6 wins the day with its driver-focused feedback. The steering wheel and rack seem borrowed from the MX-5 Miata sports car, and turn grocery runs into a fun jaunt. The 6 is the mid-size vehicle you will actually want to drive.
Full-size in the ’60s meant big style and big comfort. Chevy quietly reminds us of those classic luxury cars with the new Impala. A gorgeous ground breaking design in 2014, the interior and engineering were equally refreshed. At over 200 inches in length, it’s not small, but can score up to 35 MPG highway. The real treat is inside though, with acres of contemporary furniture better than your living room, and the comforting quiet of a stately ride. Speaking of ride, Chevy did their homework on the front suspension, which somehow manages to have responsive and sporty steering, but soaks up bumps without any sport-tuned harshness. This big Chevy is better than it should be.
Most SUVs are adequate. They go, turn, stop, and haul your junk, and that’s about the best you can say of driving them. Not so with the Honda CR-V. While it has the standard tough guy SUV looks and can haul five adults and all their stuff, it’s the details that matter. The fit and finish are best in class, visibility is excellent, the seats rock for long drives, and everything you touch feels like quality. The 2.5-liter four cylinder is built to Honda’s Swiss watch level of precision, and will give you 30 MPG highway for decades to come. While it’s no Jeep Wrangler off-road, the CR-V is the king of on-road.
Need something awesome for your Instagram backgrounds? It’s hard to beat the Lexus RX 350. Rather than slapping some leather on a base Toyota and calling it a day, Lexus dedicated this segment 20 years ago with this focused luxury SUV. This class is crowded with newcomers, but the RX 350 still sells well because of its flawless interior and perfect driving dynamics. Lexus went crazy on the ergonomics, and everything from interior lighting to the feel of the steering wheel just feels right. It’s safe too, as the RX 350 defeated the IIHS’s brutal frontal offset crash test with four stars. Go ahead, drive the competition. With 270 horsepower, a shiftable 6-speed auto, and Lexus quality, you’ll be back.
Sure, Ford sells a bazillion F-Series trucks each year, but that’s no reason to follow the herd. You can score a great truck for even less cash, if you’re willing to look into the Ram 1500. From base Express to the lux’ed up Laramie, there’s a truck for every buyer. The stats make for an impressive read: six passenger capacity, four-wheel drive, a 395 horsepower Hemi V8, a six-speed auto, and 23 MPG highway. Get the eight-speed auto in the Big Horn and gain an impressive 4 MPG highway. Ram scores a win over the competition with their exclusive for the class RamBox bed storage and diesel engine. The 3.0-liter EcoDiesel can tow 9,000 lbs., or return an insane 29 MPG highway. Sell your house and live in this. The Ram is that good.