2009 Toyota Corolla
Price: Starting at $25,000
Mileage: 24 city/31 highway
The average person spends 9.2 days a year commuting to and from work. Take a moment to absorb that number and remember that this doesn't even take into account the poor souls we all hear about who spend something ridiculous like four hours a day commuting. So why do so many people drive boring cars to and from work just in hopes to get semi-decent fuel economy? I fear that driving a hum-drum commuter may be one of the leading causes of workplace violence. And why not? Have you ever driven a Corolla for a week?
With fuel economy ratings not far off of a much slower Corolla or Civic, the VW GTI is also truly underrated as an efficient commuter vehicle. Perhaps that is because it is so riotously fun to drive. With a pretty extensive interior and exterior overhaul for 2010, the VW GTI is starting to feel a lot more like an Audi (especially on the inside) than a car this price has any right to be.
While the supple yet sporting suspension and torque rich 2.0 liter turbo engine (which carries over from 2009 essentially unchanged) may bring driving thrills, it will no doubt be the stylish new interior that will keep you happiest over the long haul. Of special interest is the incredibly tactile new flat bottom steering wheel. Why is it that VW seems to make the nicest feeling steering wheels in the industry? A small point but consider how many hours a week your hands will be touching it.
So this hot hatch is a blast to drive and gets good fuel economy but many people are put off on VWs because of high running costs. Well, VW has taken care of that issue by offering 3 years/36,000 miles free maintenance on all of its vehicles. How very generous of them. I guess you no longer need to be able to afford BMW prices in order to get a free maintenance program with your new German car.
One final bonus? The GTI is available with a highly practical and exceedingly spacious 4 door design. This four door design is even more practical as the hatch opens to a vast utilitarian load space perfect for those monthly trips to Costco or those nightmarish trips to Ikea. See? Just because you have kids, a dog and a long commute doesn't mean your life is over.
And I want one desperately.