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ORLANDO, Fla. — As drivers spend more and more time going to and from work each day, AAA unveiled a list Wednesday of what it considers to be the top vehicle picks for commuters.

Basically, AAA Auto Buying experts — who conducted test drives and evaluations of hundreds of vehicles for the AAA Auto Maker vehicle research Web site — created this list based on such attributes as practicality, safety, comfort, fuel efficiency and affordability.

As such, the AAA's Top Picks for Commuter Vehicles are the following, with AAA commentary included:

Honda Insight

"This car is among the ultimate in gasoline fuel economy while being reasonably comfortable for the driver and front-seat passenger. It's also less costly and more fun to drive than some of its hybrid competitors."

Ford Fusion

"Four-cylinder versions offer an appealing combination of power, riding comfort and handling competence. The Hybrid offers even more economy, but the fuel savings come with a major bump in the purchase price."

Volkswagen Jetta TDI

"Everything that you ever hated about diesels has been exorcised in this latest version of the Volkswagen diesel engine. It is quiet, with just a trace of diesel clatter at idle; peppy, especially when underway; and every bit as economical as the most miserly hybrids. It also is great fun to drive. Comfortable front seats are a plus."

Hyundai Elantra

"The new Blue edition is good for 35 miles per gallon. This fourth generation Elantra also is reasonably accommodating for a driver and three passengers with the interior nicely done. The 10-year/100,000-mile warranty suggests that you could keep this car in the daily commuting grind for years."

Subaru Legacy/Outback

"These new models with their horizontally opposed four-cylinder engines perform very well, and with their redesign for 2010, they now offer much better fuel economy and enhanced rear seat leg room. And for commuters facing snowy rides to work, the all-wheel drive helps ensure they will make it to work every time."

Honda Civic

"Affordable, dependable, economical and comfortable, the Civic is one of the better performing compacts for a wide range of uses, including commuting. For drivers who want to enjoy the trip even more, the 197 horsepower Si sedan deserves a careful look."

Chevrolet Malibu

"Stylish inside and out, the Malibu also is a competent performer on the road. Four-cylinder models offer more than enough power for the daily commute and promise decent fuel economy. The passenger cabin is nicely finished and roomy, both in the front and rear, making it a good choice for carpooling."

Honda Accord

"Good for the commute and good for family transportation, the Accord is roomy, solid and economical when equipped with the four-cylinder engine. It also offers road manners that are beyond reproach."


"The body for 2010 may not be to everyone's taste, but there is no arguing with its crisp handling and above average power for the compact field. Fuel economy also is good. The ride can be a little flinty, so commuters facing long stretches of neglected urban highways may want to look elsewhere. However, for people who enjoy driving, the handling will more than make up for a few abrupt ride motions."

Continuing on, AAA pointed out that some consumers may want vehicles that not only are efficient commuter models, but also fulfill shoppers' "secondary needs." For example, some consumers may want an efficient commuter model that is also a family vehicle. Or they may want a ride that is good for long commutes, but is also built for recreation. They may even want a commuter car that also happens to be a luxury vehicle.

With this in mind, AAA shared their choices for vehicles that "address consumers' secondary needs while still providing a smart choice for long commutes."

These are the picks, with commentary included:

Mini Cooper

"A premium subcompact, the Mini is both sporty and economical with fuel. Few cars are as much fun to drive. Commuters will be able to take one passenger only and the purchase price is higher than you might expect, based on size alone. However, few cars are as enjoyable on the road or offer as many safety features. Commuters might even choose to take the long way home."

Chevrolet Corvette

"Who says the drive to work has to be boring? The Corvette is anything but, and when driven appropriately, it can even return near-compact car fuel economy of around 26 mpg on the highway."

Buick Enclave

"Handling the commute for up to eight people, the Enclave combines an exceptionally quiet ride with competent handling and surprising room in all three rows. It makes for a smart choice for those seeking a large family vehicle on the weekends." 

Mercedes-Benz GL

"Roomy seating for seven, unexcelled refinement, all-wheel drive and the option of a surprisingly economical (for the vehicle size) diesel engine make this a highly desirable commuter for multi-adult carpools."

Volkswagen GTI

"Sporty, fun to drive and able to return mid- to upper-20 mile per gallon fuel economy results with the 200-horsepower turbocharged engine, the GTI is full of surprises. Even the rear seat is good for two adults and the cargo area is surprisingly roomy. Four workers can easily store large laptop carrying briefcases in the rear and then be quite comfortable for the ride to and from work." 

BMW 3-Series

"The first sports sedan remains the best by many measures. What more enjoyable way to get to work and then return home? The engines are impressive for their power and refinement, the handling is top notch and the build quality is excellent, as would be expected for the price."