THe 2012 Chevrolet Volt. Photo by Don Bain

The six most overlooked cars for commuters

Here are six overlooked cars that could make our daily drive better, but generally don't just because they are new, somehow different or don’t fit the image we want.

Though we can’t completely avoid an emotional connection with what we drive, it makes sense to approach buying a car with a little common sense and an open heart.

Consequently, here is our list of cars that deserve a little more consideration, in our humble opinion. Most people spend between 5 and 30 hours per week just commuting to and from work or simply chauffeuring kids about. The car you drive can greatly add to or detract from your overall quality of life.

Chevy Volt
Perhaps the most advanced car on the road for under $40K, the Chevy Volt has failed to sell for reasons beyond comprehension. It is new technology, but seems just like the cars you’re used to. It does not need any new infrastructure and has an unlimited range just like a gasoline car, but it burns the fuel much more efficiently.

At an Chevrolet press dinner last week, Christi Landy, Chevrolet Product Marketing Director for Volt, Sonic and Spark, told the assembly the average Volt owner gets 900 miles between fill-ups, seeing a gas station only once a month.

All you need to charge it is a standard electrical outlet within 12 feet of where you park. One acquaintance told us of a friend who works in areas where no electricity is available for charging. He drives 32 miles to his workplace, unfolds a solar panel on the roof and plugs it into the car, thus gaining enough power during the day to drive back home via clean, free solar energy. If it’s cloudy, he used less than a gallon of gas to get back home and recharge.

Perhaps a little technical for some of us, but everyone understands a $7500 tax deduction. In Colorado, you can add a $6000 state credit to that one. In simple terms, the Chevy Volt makes perfect sense for a lot of people completely unaware of that fact.

Nissan Leaf
Though a car for those willing to make the leap to new technology, it’s not that new since hybrids have been using batteries for 15 years, with a failure rate far less than one percent. It just not good for long trips, but it is well suited to the average commuter with a 100-mile range.

It is a lifestyle change – like a cell phone is a lifestyle change – liberating you from big fuel bills. You will quickly learn where to plug in outside of home and that the only reason you haven’t noticed the growing EV infrastructure is not looking for it. The Leaf owner can actually save enough to pay for another car to drive on those long trips across the plains or over the mountains. Or just fly to visit family or friends with the money you save on gas.

Toyota Venza
For the commuter that needs a bit more room and all wheel drive, the Toyota Venza delivers the definitive combination of car and SUV, without compromising fuel economy.

With a base price of $27,425, EPA estimated 24-mpg combined, seating for five and 70.2 cubic feet of cargo space, the Toyota Venza is the vehicle for the busy family on the grow.

Great safety, comfort and all weather versatility in a demurely attractive package, and now available over the next three week at zero percent interest up to 60 months, with Toyota Care covering all warranty mandated maintenance for 2 years or 25,000 miles.

Despite this, only 38,904 sold in the U.S. last year even though many buyers would be delighted to own one and just don’t know it.


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