My Brutal Commute Is Killing My Cars! What Should I Buy?

Image: Volkswagen
Image: Volkswagen

John lives in Annapolis and has to survive a brutal daily commute around the Baltimore/DC Beltway. His plans on trading his two cars into one that can handle the drive in comfort and hopefully keep his fuel costs down. What car should he buy?

(Welcome back to What Car Should You Buy? Where we give real people real advice about buying cars. Do you want us to help you find a car? Submit your story on our form.)

Here is the scenario.

I have a brutal commute, 75 miles one-way, around the Capital Beltway. I am killing new cars at a rapid clip. I currently am splitting miles between my 2019 Volkswagen Alltrack (58,000 miles) and my 2017 Mini Cooper 2-door Hardtop S (38,000 miles). I am planning on selling them both and buying one car that can cost-effectively handle this commute for a long time.

I need Fuel Efficient, or a large gas tank, or electric. Comfortable to sit in for long periods. Good tech (Android Auto, Heated Seats, Backup cameras, Adaptive Cruise Control)

The car must have decent pep. We have a hidden driveway, so we need to hit the gas hard to avoid getting smushed by people flying around the corner in front of our house. Also I am a larger fellow, 6 foot, 225, so it needs to fit me comfortably. Budget us anywhere between $40-$65k

Quick Facts:

Budget: $40,000 - $65,000


Location: Annapolis, MD

Daily Driver: Yes

Wants: Comfort, Tech, Good MPG

Doesn’t want: Something too slow

Expert 1- Tom McParland: Fit For A King


John, I can’t imagine driving the hellscape that is the Beltway on a daily basis. While your Alltrack and Mini Cooper are certainly fun cars, they are better suited for zooming around and carving turns. You need an isolation chamber to keep you comfortable in that traffic mess. You also want something that is durable to keep your running costs low.

The all-new Camry could be a compelling choice, but it likely lacks the pep you are looking for. However, the Toyota Crown might be the upgrade you need. With a higher ride height and a bit more room the Crown was made for cruising in comfort. You will want the fully loaded Platinum trim that gets you the 2.4-liter Turbo Hybrid Max motor which pumps out around 340 horsepower. These aren’t cheap, as a top-spec Crown will put you in Lexus pricing territory with an MSRP of about $58,000.

The good news is that the Crown is one of the few Toyotas that you can take advantage of some used car depreciation. A market scan of your area reveals several lightly used models in the low-mid $40,000 range.

Expert 2: Collin Woodard - An Air Of Superiority

Photo: Land Rover Redwood City
Photo: Land Rover Redwood City

John, I’ll be honest, when I first read your submission, my initial response was that you should just move either closer to work or closer to a train station. Driving 150 miles a day in DC traffic sounds like absolute hell. Then again, something tells me you’ve probably already thought of that at some point during your, what, four-hour commute? More? So let’s find a car that might make the commute from hell a little more enjoyable.

The obvious answer is, of course, a Lexus hybrid, but I say we should think outside the box on this one. You said you’re open to going electric, so why not go with a Lucid Air? If you want technology, it’s got technology. It’s also one of the best EVs we’ve ever tested, and thanks to the magic of depreciation you can actually find an Air Pure in your price range with 410 miles of range. In theory, that would be enough for you to get away with charging every other day, although you’ll probably still want to top off every night just to ensure you have plenty of cushion if something unexpected happens.

The downside is that there aren’t a ton of used Lucid Airs on the market, so you’ll probably have to have one shipped to you. Here’s what looks like a great deal on a 2023 Air Pure with only 2,106 miles on it for less than $60,000. It’ll be easier to just walk into the closest Lexus dealer and buy whatever hybrid you like best, but did you really ask Jalopnik for car-buying advice hoping to be told to buy a Lexus? Get the Lucid, John. You know you want to.

Expert 2: Bradley Brownell - Long Name, Good Wagon

Image: CarGurus
Image: CarGurus

I thought we were enthusiasts around here? Where’s the fun in a lux hybrid Toyota? I will admit I like Lucid a lot, but it doesn’t have the verve that you want to live with every day. No, you need a Volvo V60 T8 Recharge Polestar Engineered eAWD to get you through the boredom and monotony of your ridiculous commute.

The 2024 version of the V60 hybrid is a bit better with more electric range and improved power, but it’s out of your budget, so grab a used one. Why wouldn’t you want an all-wheel drive wagon with 22 miles of battery range, 415 horsepower, and adjustable Ohlins dampers? It’s the ultimate commuter.

There are half a dozen of them available at any time. This one has 20,000 miles on it and it’ll run you $54,904.

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